Monday, November 6

Wide open spaces

The good news is that I'm on vacation. The bad news is that my plan to blog every day this month was foiled by lack of internet access. I arrived at Stef's house last night and tried every available network, I couldn't log on to save my life. Bummer! To make matters worse I turned on my computer to find all preferences had been erased along with all contents of my iTunes Library, my photo album and bookmarks. What the hell?! I leave the state and my laptop rebels? I'm so sad.

I got over it by waking early this morning and setting out to drive across Minnesota and South Dakota with Stefanie. Stef is my travel buddy. She is one of a few friends willing and able to go on and off the beaten path with me. She's the one I trusted to go to London and Dublin with last year. We tend to get excited about the same strange things on a trip. For instance, while initially planning this trip we decided Mt. Rushmore would be a fun destination. Neither one of us had been and that was reason enough to go. Once the planning process began we found the idea of visiting Wall Drug to be almost as compelling as London.

All friends warned that we could easily die on this trip. It being November in Minnesota & South Dakota, I know it can be dangerous but hearing it over and over again was a real buzz kill. Luckily weather has been great so far.

This morning we departed at 8:00 am and planned to drive out of the Twin Cities and then find a place to eat. We were planning to avoid chain restaurants but about an hour into the trip, and searching for a place to eat we saw it. In unison Stef and I shouted excitedly "Cracker Barrel?! YEA!!!".
I've heard of Cracker Barrel but I've never been. I told a few friends at work I was planning to check one out. I'm happy to report I throughly enjoyed my breakfast there. The hash brown casserole is yummy. After breakfast Stef and I wandered around and picked up a few things. All in all it was a great kick-off to our Great Plains crossing.

Once on the road again I faithfully followed my AAA Trip Tik and planned our next stop. We eventually hit the border and were greeted with this sign:

Bummer! But I can't say that I blame them. I mean what are the odds? Stef and I picked the best day of the year to make this trip. At Luchtime it was about 72 degrees. I hear that's unusual.

Once in South Dakota we started spotting the famed Wall Drug billboards. We also notice an unparalled obsession with abortion. I've never seen so many anti-choice signs in my life. I mean seriously, it's an abnormal obsession out here. Along with this disturbing trend we saw some intriguing signs for a place called the Corn Palace. Well, sign me up! Many, many miles later we pulled off the 90 and made our way towards the famed palace. The first corner off the highway we spotted these young ladies:

Frankly, we were completely freaked out. While I'm sure Mitchell is a lovely town, that was not exactly the greeting we were looking for. We were shocked. We made our way to the palace despite this grisly send off. I didn't even step out of the car. I shot this picture
and we took off. We decided Mitchell looked exactly like the small town in Halloween. Frea-ky.

Once out of Mitchell, we put some Springsteen on and I have to say I completely understand that whole Nebraska album now. We sang along to Born to Run (we suddenly knew the feeling exactly), Thunder Road (I get it) and The River (SO completely makes sense now). Then things got really strange. We drove for hundreds of miles and didn't see any sign of civilation. There was almost a full moon but I've never seen a darker place than South Dakota at night. There was some cloud cover blocking the moon and it was spooky. It's all so wide open and I somehow felt so vulnerable. I guess I learned I really like the cover of trees. I don't know how on earth native Americas much less pioneers survived out here. There is nothing to protect one from the elements or each other. I couldn't get over it.

We eventually made it to today's final destination: Wall, South Dakota. I must say I'm very happy with the hotel we picked. We registered with a very nice motherly woman who recommended a good restaurant. When we returned after dinner, she was seated on the lobby couch next to an elderly woman. They were watching the Country Music Awards and knitting. It was so comforting.

That's pretty much the news for that day. Next stop... Mt Rushmore!

Wish me luck on getting WiFi access tomorrow.

... and don't forget to VOTE!!!

P.S. To those wondering, I voted "Absentee". You didn't think I'd skip an opportunity to voice my opinions did you?


Chris Hyde said...

I love Cracker Barrel!!! That's so great you got to eat there. It's one of my favorite restaurants...wish they had them here on the West Coast. The hash brown casserole...the apple butter...all good stuff.

The senior pastor of our church is from Sioux Falls so I am having him read your blog today. South Dakota is a one-of-a-kind place!

Dick Carey said...

I voted absentee also...afraid I might kick off before elections...had to punish Bush some again.

Looks like you are having a great time. Wish I were there...or really wish I would fly again. Oh well. If you are wonder how I got your blog...your Mother sent it to me. Sorry..

Your cuz Dick Carey