Monday, August 4, 2008

Don’t Call It A Comeback!/Sweet Southern Woman Sit On My Lap

I’ve done a lot of sightseeing in the last few days.

From Grand Teton I drove to Salt Lake City. I spent most of my time wandering around the Mormon center. It wasn’t as weird and creepy as I’d thought it would be. My friend Ben is from Salt Lake City and he doesn’t speak highly of the area; in fact, I’m pretty sure he hates Salt Lake City and the entire state of Utah. I think it satisfied him to hear I didn’t have the time of my life there.

It wasn’t a bad city, and like I said, the Mormon church headquarters wasn’t as weird as I’d thought it would be, but nothing really happened there. Many of the Mormons watched me closely as I took pictures of their church and the surrounding buildings, but none of them talked to me, not even the ones in clothing from the 19th century (orthodox Mormons?) who’d obviously been strategically placed to help visitors.

I swam in the Great Salt Lake. The area surrounding it smells of really stank methane, but your toes stick out of the water when you float on your back.

From there I drove to southern Wyoming.

I camped just outside of Cheyenne in a KOA campground (despite their unsettling practice of spelling every C word with a K—Kampgrounds of America). All the sites surrounding mine were taken up by bikers. A couple of them sat at their picnic tables reading novels until dark.

I cooked my dinner at the communal stove (KOAs are a little less rustic than state parks) next to a French speaking family who were laughing about the fact that the mother had forgotten to bring lots of things they needed on their United States trip. I made tuna and rice and they sat their watching me cook and eat with bemused expressions on their faces.

The next day I drove to the Rocky Mountain National Park and camped in a private campground pretty high up in the Mountains. The park ranger told me to watch out for bears. They’ve been particularly active in the area this year. The ranger said he’s seen bear 12 times this summer.

I had no phone service in the park and left the next morning in time to meet Danielle’s plane. I arrived in a small town at the foot of the mountains and saw that I had a few phone messages. Danielle’s flight had been changed, but her Expedia tickets hadn’t been updated. By the time the problem got fixed it was too late and she had to buy new tickets from JetBlue. She’s pretty sure she’ll be reimbursed for the second set of tickets.

When she finally arrived we went out to eat and explored Denver a little bit. We camped in the Rockies again, in a different site, and received the same warning about bears. The ranger didn’t remember me.

We slept without the rain fly and saw more stars than either of us has seen in a while, including four or five shooting stars.

The next morning we ate at Waffle House and washed up in the bathroom there (there were no showers at our Rockies campsite.

For lunch we ate at a Sonic. I’d never eaten there before and Danielle had promised to show me how it’s done. About a month ago I drove into a Sonic, determined to add yet another new fast food joint to my growing list, but I got freaked out by the ordering stations and intercom system and sped off in the Odyssey before actually ordering any food. I feel kind of silly about this after seeing how easy it is to get Sonic food, but I still don’t understand why a person would prefer to eat in the car.

From there we drove to Cheyenne where we talked to a woman wearing an eye patch. She complained about not being able to walk very well and about having poor vision in one eye, the eye not covered by the eye patch. She gave us a map and told us all about the various free museums in Cheyenne (we told her we were pretty strapped for cash). I told her about my trip and she seemed pretty amazed at the amount of gas I’m using.

Walking through Cheyenne felt like taking a few steps backwards, at least as far as this trip goes. The city feels rather southern. All the restaurants and stores play country music and there are many boot and cowboy hat stores, in addition to a huge Wrangler outlet. We browsed through some thrift stores and flea markets. I’d love to go back sometime when I have more money.

From there we went to Wounded Knee in South Dakota. I didn’t know much about the story of the massacre at Wounded Knee, but Danielle insisted we go.

The town is within a reservation, as is the Badlands where we camped that night. Most of the Indians we saw lived in trailer homes and the land surrounding them doesn’t seem good for much. It’s dry earth with parched grass and odd outcroppings of sandstone that look as though they’ve been punched up through the surface of the earth.

The hand painted sign off to the side of the road tells the story of The Massacre at Wounded Knee. The word Massacre is painted on a separate piece of wood that’s been nailed over whatever word is underneath, and both of us wondered what the old word is.

Across the street from the sign a dirt road curls past a gift shop (with a sign that says Open, although it doesn’t look like it’s been open in years) and up to the cemetery on a hill.

A female dog who’d just had pups was guarding the cemetery. Except for her, no one else was within sight. She sniffed us and let us scratch her for a minute (her skin was very bumpy and her fur very coarse), then she showed us around the graves and led us up to the church at the far end. In addition to the mass grave from the massacre, there are other more recent tombstones (and wooden cross markers) on the hill.

The place doesn’t look as though it receives many visitors, and aside from a few flowers placed on some of the graves (one of them a young man who died in the early 1900s), everything appears neglected and forgotten.

Before leaving, Danielle insisted we give the dog some water. So we put out a bowl for her and gave her a hot dog. She swallowed it without chewing.

We camped in the badlands that night, in the first free campground I’ve stayed at. The campground was full of grasshoppers and prairie dogs and not many other people stayed there.

Danielle got very sick, either from bad food (bison jerky), a lot of heat and sun, or both. She vomited on several prairie dogs and had a rough night in the Badlands.

We took a hike through the Notch trail, and despite taking a wrong turn and climbing halfway up a semi-treacherous slope, we finished in less than the time it was supposed to take. The hills there are made of something that feels as though it’s halfway between sand and rock.


liljames said...

I want that phrase on my tombstone.

(I also want pepperoni on my tombstone)

Gina said...

Re: The title of this entry

I find it funny you chose this, especially after you seemed so worried about titling an entry "Bustin' makes me feel good".

daniel trask said...

I'll get some Tombstones at BJs before moving in September.

And what's so bad about the title of this blog entry? It's not nearly so bad as a title that could possibly be referring to ejaculation.

Gina said...

Nothing wrong with it, but I dunno, "Sweet Southern woman sit on my lap" seems more suggestive than "Bustin' makes me feel good". Maybe I'm wrong, though. Ejaculate never crossed my mind when taking bustin' into account. All I know now is that I'm never going to look at Ray Parker, Jr. the same way again.

danielle said...

chronology: loveland wafflehouse, cheyenne, nebraska sonic, wounded knee, koa in interior near the badlands with the mosquito convention and your new favorite movie, badlands, hiking, naps, me vomiting.

woke up this morning with "all i wanna do is *powpowpowpow* and a *cha-ching* and take your money."