Monday, September 26, 2005

South Dakota: A Few Reflections

I have better hiking speed, but M has better endurance.

You get drunker quicker at higher altitudes than those you're accustomed to.

Tent campers are mostly liberals. Those driving RVs are mostly conservatives. The word "conservative"” is the wrong word for them because they don't want to conserve the environment if they're driving around in those big fat gas guzzlers running their generators so they can watch satellite TV in the Badlands instead of going outside and looking at the sweet sweet sky. I have many thoughts on the subject of RV drivers, most of which I will keep to myself because they are not nice thoughts.

Lots of people from Minnesota go to South Dakota for vacation. After about two days of listening to the Minnesota accent, M and I picked it up without realizing it. Then we sounded like dopes when we came back home.

(Oh wait, we already sound like dopes)

Taco John's is manna from heaven when you've been eating a lot of camp food.

Bison are big and intimidating up close. They don't smell that great either.

It's very cold at the top of Harney Peak, which is the highest peak east of the Rockies and west of the Pyrenees. It is also very windy. And, there are chipmunks up there who want to eat your granola bars.

The sky is so clear at night in the Badlands that you can watch satellites orbiting Earth, and see the full band of the Milky Way.

M knows a lot about the cosmos. And about guns. We talked a lot about the cosmos, and about guns, and wars. He told me about theories about Red Dwarves and Black Holes and I thought about that book Hyperion.

There are some gnarsty biting flies on the shores of Lake Michigan. Also, Lake Michigan is so cold it hurts, but it's mighty purdy.

It feels awfully strange to be pulled sideways by gravity. It's kinda hard to walk. You can feel it at Cosmos Mystery Area near Rapid City.

There are no ramps between primary divided highways in Michigan. You must stop, and turn right, to go from one to the other. This is rendered more difficult when you don't know this information, and you don't know the area, and it has rained just enough to make the oil on the concrete road float on top of the water and things are all very slippery and there is an invisible patch of sand on the road blending in with the concrete. However, when you inevitably bang into the curb and go up over it and hit a metal pole at a high rate of speed, it's good to have a sheriff who can change a tire in about three minutes for a traveling partner. That M. He's a keeper.

School busses pass you when you drive at 52 mph all the way from Michigan to Cincinnati because you have a little donut of a spare tire on your car.

The bees are much more interested in water than in stinging you in the Badlands. They are thirsty bees.

It takes a forest a long time to recover from a fire.

I felt like there was a Badlands-shaped hole in my heart that was filled by the Badlands. I could live there. I could do that. I could forget all this, and I could go live there. I dropped everything there. I just put it all down and said fuck it and I existed, and that's where I was, and that's all there was. There wasn't any of this running around shit. God, that was good.

Yes, so, the trip was quite good, and I took more than 1200 pictures. Somewhere between 1200 and 1400. I lost count. It's taking an age and a day to pick which ones to put on Flickr, but I've got a few up: Here's our spontaneous side trip to Michigan, and the giddy Ben-Gay giggliness that is Mt. Rushmore.

Today I went back to work. It didn't feel that great. It reminded me why we take vacations. Why we can't let a job become who we are.

I want to hold onto this feeling just a little longer. We listened to a lot of NPR out there in South Dakota. There seem to be about five radio stations in the state. They all have NPR and South Dakota Public Radio on them. South Dakota Public Radio suits me just fine. I felt like I was taking a step back to some more innocent phase of me. Where I know less and am wide open. Like some of the dirty-soulness is going away. That's the feeling I want to hold. I don't need that back.

Get it? A few reflections. Ha ha!


At September 27, 2005 1:08 AM, Blogger suleyman said...

The promised donkey picture. excellent. I could make a bad joke using the word "ass" but I won't.

I can't believe you got to see buffalo while you were out there and I didn't. I am officially peeved.

I'm surprised your spare tire held up that long. You're lucky you got back on it.

Would you say that there was a whole lot of Mexican goin' on at Taco John's? Did you see their monkey mascot who rides around on a dog?


At September 27, 2005 1:20 AM, Blogger Jenelle said...

I could totally live there too...

At September 27, 2005 3:17 AM, Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

I have to admit that I haven't read the post...but love the pictures! Especially that last one with the donkey!

At September 27, 2005 5:55 AM, Blogger Mr. H.K. said...

You are SOOOO correct about tents vs motor homes! Hadn't occurred to me!

I adore NPR. Thanks for the reminder. I'll put on their webcast this afternoon!


Mr. H.K.
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
And I Quote Blog

At September 27, 2005 11:22 AM, Blogger Indigo said...

A sheriff as a traveling partner is a good thing. :-)

I'm in Milwaukee, *on* Lake Michigan, and I agree, totally totally cold. I don't know what they do to the Lake over on the other shore, but here? I wouldn't recommend even sticking your toe in the water. GROSS. They dump sewage in there all the time.

And now I'm trying to figure out how to go to SD from OH going through MI? Did you take the ferry across the Lake?

At September 27, 2005 12:04 PM, Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

Love your reflections! Glad you had a great trip, makes me want to go to the badlands and smell some bison up close!
Oh. And those pics of Mount Rushmore? I really enjoyed them've got quite the eye!

At September 27, 2005 12:17 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Great post! Now you have me kankering to see the badlands!

At September 27, 2005 12:51 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

Haha, reflections! Now I get it. Sounds like a great trip. I love those feelings you get on vacations that you seem to lose so soon after you get back to the real world, kinda sucks. Someday I'm gonna get to take a huge long road trip and see all the good stuff in this country... one of these days.

The lungs are fine now, thanks for asking, although I've now been assigned more medicine to take, yuuugh.

R, ehh, I don't know the answer to that one yet.

So glad to have your posts and comments back! :)

At September 27, 2005 2:00 PM, Anonymous atpanda said...

Missed you so! :-)
Have I mentioned that I can't live without NPR? I mean really, it gets me through the day, and when I'm traveling around the country I always scan to find NPR. Even listened to it online in England!
I'm so glad you had a great time. Can't wait to see the rest of the pics! Should I set aside a few hrs? ;-)

At September 27, 2005 2:33 PM, Blogger cmhl said...

what a great post!!!!! I have been to that area, but it has been a long time ago. your pictures are great. I love the donkey one too, how cute.

and I love your quote, that your job doesn't define who you are. how true that is, and how hard to remember..

At September 27, 2005 2:55 PM, Blogger mg said...

What and adorable ass~!

Loved your post today~ I so needed to be transported away from the mounds of sand outside to envision... more mounds of sand and rock. *laughs* just kidding.

I envy your vacation, especially the discussions about the cosmos.

*le sigh*

Welcome home :)


At September 27, 2005 3:20 PM, Anonymous e said...

I love this post...little bits and pieces of what sounds like a wonderful vacation. Mike and I must definitely take that trip. glad you're back, though! I've missed this wonderful perspective and awesome writing (your guest bloggers were great, btw...but, I did miss you!) Thanks for saving me this morning, too!

At September 27, 2005 10:23 PM, Anonymous annie said...

i drove through south dakota about two months ago, BOY, was it endless! can i tell you? heaven is the rapid city fuddruckers! never have i so wanted for burgers and dogs, and been so pleasantly rewarded. we got free water and heat stroke at wall drug, and stayed at the scariest, most desolate (yet inexplicably enchanting) budget inn in the continental united states. good times.

At September 29, 2005 12:21 AM, Blogger Raehan said...

Awesome photos! Glad your trip was so great.


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