Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day 8: East of the 'ssippi

Who knew Graham offered free internet?
Throughout my trip I have seen increasing numbers of motorcycles on the roads, especially as I have traveled east. In fact, more and more these motorcycles have appeared in groups of at least three, and upwards of ten sometimes. I had suspected the reason for this since my first night in Montana, and yesterday this suspicion was confirmed; Sturgis, South Dakota. The annual biker rally has been going on this entire week I have been gone, and culminates this weekend. Never in my life have I seen such a multitude of bikers accumulated in one place. Literally thousands of motorcycles (and some of those funky tri-motorcycles) cruised around the streets of Sturgis, among hundreds of booths, vendors, and venues. It reminded me of a summer music festival like Lollapalooza or Warped Tour, except 100 times crazier. I didn't spend long in Sturgis (to be honest, I felt a bit out of place in my little Civic), I drove the main drag up and down just to soak in as much as I could. I imagine that had I been involved in the motorcycle scene I would have wet myself with excitement.

After Sturgis I headed south on some local highways through Deadwood. The town was kind of interesting, but seemed very cheesy, kind of like the gambling and drinking version of Disneyland. It was pretty bustling with bikers, though (which is fairly unsurprising considering how many signs advertised free draught beer for bikers).

Just down the road from the Bush Sr. stone
Keeping on the southernly trail I ended up at Mt. Rushmore. I didn't have the cash to actually park in the official parking structure, so I ended up simply stopping by the side of the road (probably quite illegally, but I definitely wasn't alone) to snap a couple of pictures. To be honest, not terribly impressive. Maybe my expectations were just too high, but the sculptures seemed quite a bit smaller than I had imagined. Or maybe it was just further away than I realized. Either way, I'm glad I saved my money.

The rest of South Dakota was about what I had heard; that is, completely uninteresting. Maybe I just missed all the interesting things, but somehow I think that list is pretty short. For about 100 miles along I-90 there are advertisements for a place called Wall Drug, which purports itself to be a mecca of everything western. Of course I had to stop. Some of it was pretty interesting to look at, but once again the whole thing seemed so incredibly staged that I couldn't really get over the feeling of walking through "Western town" at some Disney park.

The rest of the interesting things in South Dakota
The next stop I made was Sioux Falls around 11:00 PM (which I think may have actually been 10:00 PM according to when I woke up this morning, but I'm beginning to lose track of what the current time actually is where ever I am; my cell phone can't seem to decided depending on what kind of signal it gets). I considered staying here for the night, but a quick survey of the motels proved futile (thank you Sturgis), and I couldn't find an area un-shady enough to park and sleep for the night. No worries, after two cups of coffee and a sandwich I was energized and couldn't sleep anyways, so I jumped back on I-90 and left South Dakota to those better attuned for it.

I like sunsets and don't care if they are kitsch
Entering Minnesota ended up being a good decision, as I was treated to an awesome lightning show far away on the horizon while I sped down the freeway. Unfortunately I wasn't quite close enough to get any pictures of the actual forks; hopefully I'll get another chance within the coming weeks (chances are probably pretty good).

Three cities later (all still booked), I ended up at Albert Lea. By this point I was pretty exhausted, and was only going to get a few hours sleep even if I did find a motel, so I kicked back in the parking lot of a Hy Vee, a 24 hour grocery super store.

I think I'm starting to get used to this sleeping in the car thing (by the way, my previous hypothesis of getting better sleep stretched out in the backseat is complete bunk; mostly due to "stretched out" being a very generous way to describe curling up in the fetal position just to fit). Falling asleep didn't take long, and I woke up much less than the first night. It's still overrated, though. Tonight is hopefully a motel night.

I'm already into Wisconsin now, it took quite a few stops in Minnesota and here to finally find some internets, things are looking good to push through Madison tonight, maybe even into northern Chicago.

Maybe it's because I spent so little time in South Dakota and Wyoming, but it seems like now that I am getting closer to the east coast the landscape seems to ahve drastically changed quite quickly.

Observation 2: One of the underlying similarities that all people seem to share, no matter which region of the country they are from, is that on average they completely suck at driving. Driving through South Dakota last night, there was this car that would consistently drive up behind me (nearly matching my speed), pass me very slowly, then immediately cut in front of me when they had passed even though there was absolutely zero traffic behind them. They then proceeded to lose about 10% of their speed, causing me to hit my brakes in fear of rear ending them at 70mph. Their speed would then stay below what mine had been on cruise control, so I would pass them back up at my cruising speed, and the whole process started all over again.

Seriously people, learn how the hell to drive.

Today I am: glad to be out of South Dakota.
Miles so far: 2784
Sounds of the drive:
Dustin Kensrue - Please Come Home
AFI - Decemberunderground and Sing the Sorrow
Otis Redding - The Ultimate Otis Redding
More Science Friday Podcasts

1 comment:

g said...

hahaha... heck yes I offer free internet. And continental breakfast too bitches.

I really like south dakota actually... granted, it is flat and there aren't any cities at all, yes, but it is the last part of the country that is wide open.

Its the 'end' of the west, basically.

Once you hit illinois/indiana, little cities start popping up, plus trillions of acres of corn which obscure the landscape and create misty haze that makes the land feel claustrophobic to me.

In Ohio, the little cities are all over the place. The east is so very crowded. People from here don't understand, they've never lived in the wide open west. The west is seriously where it is at - don't tell the easterners how awesome it is, or they will all come and fill it up. ! :)

Watch out for those thunderstorms man... they are nasty here man.