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.
I have been blessed by the weather while driving across South Dakota. All day today the clouds were like cotton balls dancing across the blue sky. The clouds seem to be so close to the ground here. Driving out of Mitchell, S.D., was like driving into a picture postcard. This forceful spirit bodes well for the Crazy Horse visit, the culmination of a rewarding trip that has incorporated wonderful food, goodwill from South Dakotans and several surprises. For example, I was told to stop at Al's Oasis (Exit 260) near Chamberlain. I was all jacked up about the 5-cent coffee I saw advertised on roadside billboards. I'm here to report that coffee is not 5 cents if you carry out. It is 50 cents.
Radio wasn't quite as good today as it has been since I left Chicago on Friday morning [did I mention how horrible the tollbooth construction is just south of Beloit, Wis.? A 45-minute delay on a Friday morning. I've driven across America — Illinois has the worst tollway system in the United States.]
Even worse than the delay was catching Harry Chapin's: "Taxi — The Segue" on satellite radio. I never knew he did an afterwards to what was a stupid song to begin with. But while listening to Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy on my all-baseball station, I learned that major league baseball goes through 300,000 baseballs a season.
If I had a cell phone, I might have been talking to someone and I would have missed that.
I also pondered some "Rules of the Road Trip" and need help in assembling a list. Like, never buy a camera at a museum gift shop ... too expensive. Or don't reach over and turn down the radio when you're in the passenger seat and your cell phone rings [this is from my last big road trip to New Orleans.] Does the driver always get to pick the music?
I'll be somewhere in a cabin tomorrow night looking for wireless access.