Alaska Sojourn!
Ian's Updates, Day 3


A Long, Strange Trip to Alaska
by Ian Schmeisser (ischmeisse@aol.com)

Day 3

Finally - some decent riding! And I always thought that South Dakota was something you just blasted through on the way to or from "better things" such as the Rockies, or home.

Tom has taken the time to write at length about the details of the ride, so I will keep with my "Long Strange Trip" theme and summarize the weirdness I saw along the way today. Suffice it to say that we took the back roads and got an up close look at the real South Dakota… not the wasteland you see just off the slab. It's simple stuff - hay, corn & cows - but it's the stuff that great rides are made of.

Today's strangeness:

The Red Man's Revenge
It's gambling. Casinos, replete with electronic blackjack and Keno are the way that Native Americans are repaying the white man for all the demeaning treatment they've dished out over the past 200 years. When you see a skinny, sallow-faced guy with a cigarette dangling & drink close at hand brainlessly poking a blinking plastic button to the electronically synthesized tune of PacMan and Handel's Messiah, you'll know what I mean.

Vermilion Odd Fellows
They do the Adopt-a-highway trash detail along Highway 50 somewhere in South Dakota… I didn't know if they were vermilion or even if they were odd… but they sure did pick up the trash real well because it was nowhere to be seen during our ride.

Just Daub It.
Does anyone know what this means? It has something to do with gambling and I haven't a clue.

Gas n' Git
Another fancy word for a gas station and convenience store. Some of the world's most, uh… unique creative work is on billboards. Often times these signs were placed close to the stockyards… where the smell was the clearest indication of how advertising is really made.

Cow Igloos
Now here is a good idea, and given that we're riding to Alaska, I thought it worth a mention. Several farms along the way had them… small plastic shelters that the calves could go in to get out of the snow. I'll bet they're heated, too. What a great idea… I always feel so bad when the cows are standing in the field in the snow and the wind.

Cow Crowds
Why in the heck is it that when the cows have about fifty bazillion acres of grass to hang out in, they all stand tightly packed in the corner of the field?

Think
There are signs all over the place in South Dakota that say "Think." When you look closely, the tagline says "X Marks the Spot" and identifies the place where some driver or passenger "bought the farm." I don't know if these are all alcohol-related accidents, but they sure do a lot of thinking in South Dakota.

Banzai Birds
Birds have this insane game of seeing how close they can fly to your motorcycle without actually hitting you. Today, one found out the hard way that you can only get so close before you become a punchline in a borrowed joke: "What's the last thing to go through a bird's mind as it hits your windshield? It's asshole!"

Talk with you all tomorrow!


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