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June 2006 Archives

Happy Birthday Highway

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12:33 A.M. June 30

CHICAGO — There is no better way to honor the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System than trying to drive around Chicago.
Time stands still!
My week long trip is over; I drove from Chicago to St. Paul to Rapid City, South Dakota and back home through South Dakota and Iowa. Most of my driving was along I-90, the longest interstate route in America (3,020 miles from Boston to Seattle.).
Nowhere did I encounter the traffic dilemmas that I did around Chicago. And I didn't even travel the Chicago area in peak times. Of course, this is not a news flash. And the biggest city in South Dakota [Sioux Falls] has about as many people as Naperville (140,000). But I've been driving around Chicago for 30 years and I've seen 30 years of roadwork. This will be going on the rest of my life. So I jotted a few tips down while stuck in traffic yesterday to help future generations:

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

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12:02 a.m. (Central), June 29, 2006

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Is Celine Dion related to Michael Buble?
That's the kind of stuff I was thinking about on the 370th mile of the 376 trip from Custer State Park in South Dakota to Sioux City, which meant I should pull over and get some rest. I planned to hit Iowa much earlier, but fell behind doing some great interviews in South Dakota.
I also got out of my Pontiac to stretch my legs and have a beer at a country bar/museum/casino across the street from the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D. It was around 7:30 p.m. and two women next to me were eating gizzards and getting liquored up to prepare for Wednesday night Karaoke — that began at 10 p.m. This wasn't going to be pretty. I caught the Bulls draft choices on TV [I wanted Brandon Roy] and left town.

Where the Buffalo Roam

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10:34 a.m. (Mountain Time), June 28, 2006

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Surprises are the best part of any journey.
The drive from Mount Rushmore to Custer State Park should typically take 15, 20 minutes, or so I was told. It took me two hours to get to my little cabin at Legion Lake in Custer State Park.
Some kid at the Mount Rushmore concession stand gave me bum directions — or maybe I wasn't paying attention.

Crazy Horse

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11:19 p.m. June 26, 2006

RAPID CITY, S.D. — According to Mari Sandoz's fine 1942 biography "Crazy Horse (The Strange Man of the Oglalas)," the military leader of the Oglala Sioux was considered unusual and a non-conformist.

Well, I'm in good company.

It has been a lifelong dream to visit the Crazy Horse monument, which I will do tomorrow.

Sandoz traveled the Badlands in the 1930s and lived among the Native Americans. She interviewed buffalo hunters and running partners of Crazy Horse like Red Feather and Short Bull. I can't wait until tomorrow and I know I have a few crazy tricks up my sleeve in terms of people to meet.

Dakota Dave

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9:30 p.m. June 25, 2006
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — I do the majority of my road trips alone, so a blog is someone for me to talk to while driving my car. Plus, the blog never asks, "Are we lost?" My bloggin' around will be more personal than the Detours travel column I've been doing the last 15 years or 190,000 miles ago.
I'll try to share the music I'm listening to, the food I'm eating — generally in the car — scenery and the sudden roadside attractions that always seem to fall my way. Today at the Sioux City Canaries minor league baseball game I bumped into John Kouris, the team's new director of promotions. He's a former Chicagoan who performed at Second City, in '96 and '97, he played football at Notre Dame and was last seen reading poetry with Sergio at Weeds before moving out to South Dakota.

He takes chances.

That's what a good road trip is about.

I also want to solicit responses from readers that will help me find my way. I've never been to South Dakota before. It feels like Iowabraska to me. My beaten-down Cubs pal Mike Reischl has already suggested Wild Billy's Tombstone in Deadwood and Al's Truck Stop on I-90 in Oakton, S.D. Earlier tonight I wandered by a bar called the Arrow Lounge in downtown Sioux Falls. The brick dive bar had a big neon arrow above the door pointing inside. I wanted to go in, but I had to get back to my Sleep Inn here to begin my blog.

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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