Saturday, October 22, 2011

Road Trip 1

So yeah, I've been remiss once again about blogging. I have a good excuse, though: I got to do an interview on Evening Magazine. One of the reporters heard my album and figured I was worth a feature. I ended up having a blast with these guys. The story should air sometime in November. Of course, I'll post the exact details when I find out myself.

Before any of this happened, I took a trip. See, for the last year, the farthest I've been away from Seattle has been Snohomish. I was getting a little antsy, so I rented a car and headed east. This is the car:

It's a Mitsubishi Galant. It really wasn't a bad ride, although the handing was a little weird. In my mind, the steering was a little over-sensitive and the suspension was more on the unresponsive side. But still, it was comfortable enough and it got me there and back. What was the whole point of this? Well, I wanted to see the mammoth site in Hot Springs, SD. I'd read about it in Smithsonian Magazine and really wanted to go. Plus, I had spent all too brief of a time in SD two years ago and wanted to see more of it.

The first day was just driving. My goal was to get as far as Billings. I got as far as Big Timber, about 80 miles short of Billings. There are two things wrong with that town's name: 1. it's tiny, and; 2. there are no trees for miles in any direction, so God knows why it's called Big Timber. However, Montana is known as the Big Sky State for good reason. Have a look:

Note the bigness of sky.

The next day was packed with seeing all the roadside attractions. First up was the Little Bighorn battle site. The Indians call it Greasy Grass and since they won, that's probably what we should call it. Here's what Last Stand Hill looks like from below:

It's pretty unassuming. I mean, there's very little to indicate that one of the most famous battles in our nation's history took place here. Of course when you get to the top of the hill, it's a different story:

They put up markers wherever they found a dead guy. They go all the way down the hill and towards the river below, because the cavalry guys were retreating as fast as they could. By the way, you can see Custer's marker in the top photo; it's the one with the dark paint on it. Most of them looking like this:

Most of the dead guys couldn't be identified, so there are lots of these. There are others that have been added more recently, here are a few:

Of course, for a guy from Seattle, a sign like this was a real treat:

Rattlesnakes, how quaint! I didn't see any, by the way. Here's the Indian memorial that commemorates the tribes and individuals who took part in the battle:

My favorite name of all - and I can't remember which tribe he was from - was a warrior named Guts. You know, we've come to expect such brave fighters to be called things like Noble Eagle or Proud Bear or such like, but no, this guy was named Guts. I hope his name suited him.

I could have gone done the road to see where Major Reno hid out, but I decided to head out. I really recommend Little Bighorn (or Greasy Grass); it's well worth a visit. OK, so next stop was the Devil's Tower in Wyoming. Here it is:

It beats me why there's a post office here. I mean, it's in the middle of nowhere. Maybe the tower gets a lot of junk mail. Who knows? Anyhow, here it is again with America in the foreground:

Look at how much taller that flagpole is than the tower! I didn't stop to climb it - the Devil's Tower, not the flagpole - because that would have been insane. Instead I headed to neighboring SD. The first stop was Deadwood:

As you can see, it's a quaint enough place. It's also a total tourist trap. I took these photos out the window, which is why there are bug smudges. I really didn't want to get out, lest I fall into the trap of tourists. I was actually much more partial to neighboring Lead. It's a little more run-down and a lot less infested with casinos and fake nostalgia.

Of course, any visit to the region requires a stop at Mt. Rushmore. On the way, I took a wrong turn, but fortunately, I happened to drive through a really nice part of the Black Hills. Trees were changing colors and this is what it looked like:

Yeah, it was real scenic and all. After I got un-lost, I ended up at Mt. Rushmore towards evening. The place was almost empty. Here's what it looked like:

If it had been during the day, there would have been like a billion tourists here. But there were only about a dozen people:

And in case nobody's said anything, there isn't a house above all the heads. No, that's North by Northwest. It's a movie. It isn't true. No house.

OK, so after this, I got pretty severely lost (again). But while I was regaining my bearings, I saw three squirrels. They were small, brown/black and they wanted nothing to do with me. They weren't interested in peanuts and not at all friendly. Fair enough. I eventually made it to Hot Springs and stayed at a motel almost right next to the mammoth site.

1 comment:

triptrumpet said...

I was hoping for a picture of the Crazy Horse sculpture near Mt. Rushmore. I'm curious to know how much it's changed since I stopped through the area when moving to Seattle in 1994. I think it's scheduled to be completed in 2100 or something.