So I up and splurged a little bit, got myself a cabin at the KOA in Sioux Falls, because I figured I deserved it, and because it was only twenty bucks more than setting up a tent in the dark. So I have real light tonight, not just the computer white, and I have a bed with a mattress on which to put my sleeping bag. My back hurt this morning, another reason to splurge. The cabin smells like conifers, there are two windows with matching curtains, and it’s impeccably clean. All in all, I’m happy with my decision.
Where was I?
Right, so Wyoming. Sheridan. Sheridan is a Wyoming town. That’s all I can say about it. It’s like any other poor-ish small town, I guess, but set in the mountains, which gives it a distinctly rugged feel. If by rugged you mean stupid. One main street, a couple of old buildings, motorcycle repair shops, gas stations, population 15,000-something. Extremely hostile seeming, so I gave the Shriners guys in front of the gas station a dollar–they were both in their seventies, shiny maroon jackets, with those even shinier conical hats–to, you know, give a gift to the gods and shit, so they wouldn’t strike me down on the highway. The calculation was simple: give the Shriners guys a dollar and don’t get smitten, or don’t give the Shriners guys a dollar and have your ass handed to you in the middle of South Dakota.
As I said, simple.
But this is an example of the logic of your brain when you’re driving across the country in an untenable automobile: you are inclined to make bargains with the gods. You will try to trick them into thinking that one dollar for Shriners was the appropriate price to pay for another day on planet earth. And when it works, you keep right on doing it. And that’s how religions are formed, dummy…
Or so I thought somewhere in the middle of South Dakota, going insane. I was absolutely going madly insane in motherfucking South Dakota. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Black Hills are pretty and all, but unless you like to go to boring oddities-type shit, you’re going to go insane in South Dakota, too.
So first I skipped Mount Rushmore. I was driving along and considering going–really thinking hard about it. And then the sign came and said, like, “Mount Rushmore. Take this exit. This is the one to take for Mount Rushmore. Unless you want to go some roundabout way later on, take this one.” And I just watched it go by. And that was that. That was what Mount Rushmore was like for me.
Then there’s Wall Drug. Funny thing about Wall Drug: it’s in the town of Wall. I’d never thought about that even being a possibility. I just figured, you know, Wall Drug, you know? Like Wal-Mart, only with another L. But there you have it, and I was wrong.
Wall Drug is boring. There are lots of old people and a few German tourists. They all walk around looking to buy things with the words Wall Drug on them. They’re taking pictures on benches with wooden cowboys. They’re moseying and dilly-dallying. There are tour-buses full of them. And I was one of them today. I walked around in Wall Drug’s various stores and thought, “Huh, hell of a marketing campaign for absolutely no payoff.” Their marketing campaign is brilliant. There are hundreds and hundreds of signs for sixty miles all around talking about fifty cent coffees, homemade donuts, T-Rex memorabilia, whatever, and all doing it in a somehow cute way, while not being over the top cutesy. But then you get there and it’s just a carnival for people who want to buy useless crap. I will say that I considered buying one of those Wall Army Knives with my name on it, but they were out of Blogbytoms.
So then I left.
And then I drove and drove and drove. It rained a little bit. There were lots of dead animals on the side of the road. Um. Lots of trucks, too. Yup. A little rain–did I already mention the rain?–ah, I see that I did. Let’s see. There were thirty-something consecutive miles of two-way free way traffic. You know, when you share the same interstate with the other guys, the ones going the other way, because their side’s getting construction done on it. You know that? I don’t know what it’s called. But there was a lot of it in a row, and it was boring, just like the rest of South Dakota.
I skipped the Corn Palace and 1880 Town, too.
So now I’m sitting here in Sioux Falls with a mattress and a sleeping bag and a cabin. With electricity. I’ve got half a pack of cigarettes. I’ve got nothing but time and deadlines. See you tomorrow.