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2002-08-20 - 1:45 a.m.

8:10 a.m. – Leaving Rapid City, South Dakota. There is a huge fire in the mountains. We can see it. It’s kind of odd to see. We just passed this huge field full of tents and fire trucks where firemen from all over are staying and regrouping in efforts to fight the fire. The smoke is huge and now we’re not even sure if they’re going to let us even get close enough to Mt. Rushmore. If we don’t get to go to Mt. Rushmore, Tim is gonna be incredibly pissed. He hasn’t even taken one picture yet. He’s been saving his camera until Rushmore. I asked him why he hasn’t taken any yet and he curtly responded “Well, everywhere we go, you two Japanese shutterbugs start going crazy and don’t even give me a chance!” Hmmm, South Dakota is really cool in the East (Sioux Falls, and the Missouri River – which we totally peed in). There were also Poisonous Snake warnings by the river. Where we were peeing. And where Ben was barefoot. We are stupid. But it was still nice. We got there right as the sun was going down so it was really nice. If we got there 5 minutes later we wouldn’t have seen anything. We’ve stopped the car on the side of the road now and Ben is taking pictures of bridges. It makes him so happy. I’m itchy.

8:25 a.m. – So we finally got to the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota yesterday around 1:30. I tried to call Fred, Monique, and Brad to gloat at all the spamminess I was enjoying but all three of them super suck and weren’t home. (We just drove under a natural rock bridge and I think Ben pissed himself). The Spam Museum was everything I hoped for and more – believe the hype!! Ben, Tim, and I could not possibly know more about Spam at this point. I was even crowned Spam Exam champion in a game show we played. It was very cool. And we bought lots of Spam Merchandise. Spam shirts, Spam cups, Spam magnets, Spam pens, Spam beer coolers, and Spam tattoos. These are not a sampling of what they carried. That is a list of things we bought. We are such suckers. We are at the base of Mt. Rushmore now and so far so good, no fire blocking our path. We just passed an Alpine Slide that had a Dairy Queen. I started to cry. People, it doesn’t get any better than that. Oh sweet – I can see Mt. Rushmore now. Ok, now I can’t – trees. But what I saw was really fucking cool. It’s hard to think that it’s really that cool – like it’s just 4 Old Men in the Mountain right? If you can think it possible – it’s much cooler that the Old Man in the Mountain. Much. Ok – we’re parking. Later.

"If the Spam Museum is wrong, I don't want to be right."

9:15 a.m. – Wow. That was amazingly beautiful (not to be confused with crazy/beautiful). Sure, the sculpture was great. And we got some real nice shots of the fire (well, keeping in mind what a horrible thing it was at the same time), but the best thing about Mount Rushmore?!?!? HANDS DOWN – THE MOUNTAIN GOATS. Wild, roaming Mountain Goats. Oh how goats freak me out – and yet I love them all the same. And these were some big, white, big horned ol’ mountain goats. And they just go wherever they please. I got several pictures of them and then Ben helped me to realize my life long dream of getting my picture with a goat. (No, I don’t believe that the Cote Family’s old goat Fritz counts). We kept getting closer and closer to it and finally I sat down in front of a mother and a baby goat (a kid if you will). This, understandably, pissed the mother goat off and she reared and snorted a bit (much like Tim for much of this trip) and just stared at me. Ben was about to take the picture but then the mommy goat went back to eating grass. So, in the interest of getting a better picture Ben instructed me “Get her pissed off again.” People, this is usually how the last scene in a Faces of Death starts. So I, like an absolute moron, made a quick start towards the goats. Like this they did not. But I sat down quick, Ben snapped the picture, and we were done with our Shenanigoats for the foreseeable future.

9:30 a.m. – We’re almost at Crazy Horse. It’s not that far from Rushmore at all. The smoke from the fire is really strong and is bothering my eyes. Perhaps I should request that they let me ride in the inside of the car for a while. When we were in Sioux Falls, there were lots of Prairie Dogs (or Prayree Dawgz in the parlance of our times). They were devilishly funny. Balancing big beach balls on their noses and so forth. Western South Dakota isn’t so bad either. It’s where we stayed last night and where Sturgis, Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and all the faux-Ghost Towns are. But what about THE MIDDLE of SOUTH DAKOTA?! Is that what you ask? Ugh. It is very very very very very long. And there are a lot of billboards. That was our entertainment. There’s a weird-ass billboard every 15 feet in South Dakota. But other than curiously named towns like Murdo, Kadoka, Oacoma, and the group favorite – WALL, the middle of South Dakota is mostly cows, bulls, buffalo, and billboards. Well, and the Corn Palace of course.

11:15 a.m. – Crazy Horse was magnificently spectacular. That’s right. It’s really hard to describe it so I will have to include a picture when I eventually post this entry tonight. Korczak Ziolkowski started working on it in 1948, and by the 50th anniversary (and 16 years after his death) only the head of Crazy Horse is done. The entire sculpture will include his upper body, and the front half of his horse. The center they built around the mountain, as well as what they plan to build in the future is extremely impressive. I bought my mom this Lakota Tribe sculpted bell. I know she doesn’t exactly have a Native American motif going on, but I think she’ll like it. This whole Black Hills area is so beautiful and unlike anything I’ve seen before. I don’t know if I’ll be parading Markarian style in a Sturgis shirt after this, but I definitely count myself as a fan of South Dakota. Slightly, ever so slightly, the trip is starting to wear me down. I think it’s mostly the odd sleeping and eating schedules and what a creature of habit I normally am. The burning sensation in my knees makes me wish I was chewing hornets, and the sharp pain in my lower back makes me yearn for Toledo again. Sure, old personalities resurface, and things that seemed to vex me in the past seem to vex me once again. But clearly, I too am guilty of some of the vexing. It is in No Way the doom patrol that people foretold would happen, but I think it’s just the result of any three people that haven’t been further than 20 feet from each other for 4 consecutive days. We’re no longer at the beginning of this trip and the end is far from here. We’re stuck in the middle. And as we get ready to cross over to Wyoming I push the basketball back over to the other side of the car, re-shift my pillow, stop the magazines from blowing around (as Tim “prefers” to drive with the windows down), and check yet again to see if my phone has any reception. It doesn’t. It hasn’t since Sioux Falls.

"My lands are where my dead lie buried."

11:30 a.m. – We just drove by a “faithful recreation” of "Bedrock: As The Flintstones Knew It". Sigh. I’m not even gonna try. We’re headed towards Hot Springs and then Wyoming. But saying you’re “headed towards” something out here is like saying Providence is on the way to Caribou.

11:40 a.m. – We just drove through Pringle, South Dakota. Pop: 97. Wow. It reminded me that we had a Pringles Vending Machine at the Best Western in Rockford. Mmmmm, Pringles. . . Fuck, the battery is gonna die again. Man, I wish this thing lasted longer. Oh well. Hopefully I’ll at least be able to get past noon before it shuts down. If not, I’ll hopefully post this up from somewhere near the Wyoming/Utah border. Sign we just passed: “Buffalo are Dangerous! Do not approach!” Oh so cool. We just spotted this coyote on the side of the road. He’s just trotting to and fro, minding his own business (or “chillin’ like a villain” as Ben phrased it). He is incredibly cute. I wanted to take him home. The prairie dogs no like him. They were squeaking at him. The coyote didn’t care. We just saw some buffalo. Well, one. Ben and I got out and went into the prairie and valleys and got as close as we felt comfortable and got some pictures. I stopped for a second and couldn’t believe I was in god damned South Dakota romping in the grass taking pictures of Buffalo. Weird. Anyway – I think this computer is done for right about now.

12:05 pm – Wow. We got a lot of buffalo shots. I am very hungry though. Not for buffalo.

1:45 pm – Lusk, Wyoming. We are about to pull over for pizza in this smallest of small towns. It is named Lusk for god sakes. I’ve already seen three people in cowboy hats. Tsk, tsk.

----------Computer Dies----------

Man, now here I am again - hours from my last entry - 11:45 pm. In a hotel - this time in Grand Junction, Colorado. I'm extremely tired. My feet hurt. My knees are on fire. Still. We're almost in Utah. We were originally never going to go into Colorado, but we cut Salt Lake City for Denver and Grand Junction, as well as more of the Rocky Mountains.

Wyoming sucked the soul out of us. We expected it to be OK. Not as evil as Ohio, but cooler than Pennsylvania. Nope. It was flat and flat and rainy and we didn't even get to go to Devil's Tower. Oh well. After Cheyenne it was straight to Denver. The cheese cooler burst open and leaked cheese water all over me - specifically my crotch. Sigh. I may look back on it and laugh. But standing on the side of the road in Denver, with a moist, cheesy crotch, while finishing my last few swigs of Souix City Sasparilla was not that thrilling.

The Rocky Mountains were unfuckingbelievable. I don't know if I've seen anything so beautiful since a NewsRadio episode. We saw most of it at dusk, but it was still great.

I'd type more but my brain is mush and Ben and Tim are both trying to sleep. And it's an early morning tomorrow - of course - and then off through Utah with hopes to get past St. George and to the Grand Canyon by tomorrow night.

It's been real,

No Name

ps - If you are cool, you should check your mailbox.

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