Post 3 – Great Plains

I want to apologize for being so sporadic and sparse lately on my updates.  Ask Jeff, Steve, Femi, Dubi, or anyone else that has traveled with me and they will tell you I am fanatical about getting the blog updated.  It kills me everyday that I feel it’s overdue.  It’s been 3 weeks since my last update.  The reason it has taken so long is mainly because we suck at relaxing and are always on the go.  The few times we stop somewhere with wifi, it is usually bogged down with 30 laptops all streaming music and uploading photos.  Which means nobody gets anything done because the internet is so slow.  I’ve conferred with strangers and they too couldn’t run AOL 95 on their machines.  Frustrating.  It will be nice when data transfer speed catches up with the applications or programs or whatever.  I feel better now that we’ve cleared things up.


I almost ran over a zombie.

I forgot to mention this in the last post.  We were heading into Indiana for the night (this is before the all-nighter in Denny’s) and driving through an urban area in the southern part of the state.  It’s about 11pm and we just left a Laundromat, where I slept and Jeff washed some clothes.  I’m still a little groggy as I wind the van under bridges on the three lane highway in the industrial part of downtown.  I catch something moving from the left, toward my lane through the headlight periphery.  What I think were white sneakers, blue jeans, a sweat shirt, and a 5-oclock shadow strided across the van’s path, about 45 feet in front.  I was doing about 55 and jerked the wheel to the left, missing the pedestrian by about a chair length.  He had a really good bigfoot arm swing going and didn’t look up from the road for a second.  Now I was a awake, but still forgot to write about this at Denny’s from focusing on the blog and conversation with the waitress.  I was on terminator mode, half asleep, on a mission to finish the next post.


Des Moines is a really, really cool town.  Really clean and what looked like a good sized young crowd.  Lot’s of microbrewing (El Bait Shop had like 84 local beers on tap) and the bridges reminded me of northern Europe.  If you are into cities, the indie scene, beer, or bridges at all, you’ll appreciate a visit.

So stoked I got to hang out with my uncle.  I finally got in touch with him an hour after we’d passed the turn to Cedar Rapids, IA.  He was in South Dakota heading to Sioux Falls for a drop off.  After going back and forth with him about a meetup scheme, I decided to just haul ass to Sioux Falls.  I might have driven a bit over the speed limit, but when’s the next time I’ll be in Iowa to see him.  Besides, it’s Iowa.  There’s hardly anyone on the road here.
The prices are pretty sweet in SD.
Weak food, weak attitude.
Humans might just eat to nourish our emotions.  We have big brains and looking at other animals, we eat a lot of really intensely flavored food.  When I am craving a particular flavor, it haunts me until I satisfy it.  I’ve just spoiled myself, that’s all.  They have some awesome comfort food in this part of the country.  Food has become a serious passion of mine.I’m gonna be fat as hell after I hit 30 J  

The Black Hills (dark green)


A cool chick at a gas station refers us to Wanblee, an Indian reservation because we want some culture shock.  She gave a brief introduction of the people, which basically said they are living off of the government and because of strong traditionalism, are not adapting well to the “real world”.  This is one side of the story and the only information we had at the time.  With limited information, we as humans develop strong preconceptions. 
We stopped at the first store we saw in the land of the red man.  I wanted to talk to some of the locals and ask some questions or something.  I was confused and sheepish.  I think what I really wanted to do was interview some intelligent people of a different culture, but in the pinnacle of my culture shock, I just ended up making a jackass out of myself.  I walked into this store and couldn’t keep eye contact with anyone.  I’ve never been in a grocery store completely filled with native Americans.  They wore the same clothes as me, spoke English with an Indian accent, and just carried on like normal people.  With the ugly behavioral descriptions planted in my brain by the chick from that morning, I attempted to explain to the young girl working the register that we were traveling and talking to people all over the country to show that people think the same.  I’m not sure what rambling came out, but it must have been entertaining because she just laughed and laughed at me.  I deserved it for sure.  I got back in the van and said, “go.”

They love walking. Maybe they don’t, but they casually walk 10 or 15 miles.  We picked up an older native American lady walking down a really long stretch between towns when we went to check out the Indian reservation in southern South Dakota.  I think it is the Nakota tribe down there, but can’t be certain.  There was at least 5 miles of pure nothingness in each direction of the woman who was walking on the shoulder of the highway.  At around 4:30PM, with the wind steadily blowing 20-25 mph, we knew it was gonna get cold soon and she was wearing a t-shirt.  I think we baffled her at first and possibly terrified her when we randomly stopped in the middle of the road to talk to her.   After 20 seconds or so of trying to explain that we were offering a ride, she got in.  She was overly sweet and quiet.  I couldn’t hear a word she was saying to Jeff from the back of the truck, so just played guitar softly to let her know I wasn’t doing something conniving.  It is a blank white van with no windows on the side.  A little sketchy, especially for a couple white devils in red land.   She was walking to get gas for her son who ran out a few miles back.  Jeff talked to her about family and asked if she concerned herself with national or global politics.  As a stay at home mom of nine kids, she said she didn’t focus on much outside of her home.  Probably an awesome mother.  We dropped her off in the next town, where she said she would get gas for her son and walk back to his truck.  She smiled at our offer to chauffeur her back to the truck, and said she would take care of some things in town first.

About  15 miles further, on our way to the town Wanblee, we see a young native American couple walking with a small dog, again on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere.  They did not hesitate to jump in the van baring those bright native smiles.  They liked our van and mission and we gave them a couple beers.  They said we were cool, which we thought was really cool.  Never been told I was cool by an Indian before.  We talked about music and whatnot and dropped them off at the next town.  All in all we saved a total of about 30 miles of walking today.  5 hitch hikers so far.

 the west is with the times


The whole goal of the trip so far has been to make it as far Northwest as possible before the weather fell apart.  The main reason we shot through IN, IL, and IA so fast was because locals kept telling us it usually doesn’t stay nice this long.  We cross the Montana border in the middle of the night and sleep on a scenic pull off.  It’s pitch black outside.  In the morning we open the side doors.

We got there just in time.

The views just never get old.
I am annoyed by my unrelenting tendency to gawk at and photograph the views in this part of the country.  It’s just big.  Big fields.  Big sky.  Big hills.  And it keeps getting bigger and more interesting.  I’m glad we saw the gradual change from east to west, because flying in or going the opposite direction would be more temporary and disappointing, respectively.  I say whoooooooaaaaa, and then take a picture.  I look away for A SECOND and then look back and say whooooooaaaaaa, and take the same picture.  I noticed how frequent I do this after going through my pictures and deleting all of the duplicates.

Like I’ve said a hundred times, I’m gonna get better about updating more frequently.  I have 2 more posts in queue already.  Just gotta get some more solid wifi.  It’s late now, an we’re about to leave for Vegas.  Haha yeah, think about what’s happened between the snow and now!


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