It was a long day driving through Wyoming but what beautiful scenery we passed through in Bighorn National Forest. It was an unbelievable landscape, glorious dirt mountain roads, badlands, cattle crossings, small towns and wide-open spaces. Half way through we pumped some sweet 90’s jams and had a dance party in the car with our stashes on.. seemed to lighten the mood and definitely gave us more than one reason to smile and laugh. It felt really good.
We managed to make it to Mount Rushmore around 5 o’clock and still had sometime to go to get to Interior, SD where Joe and Julie live (our next stop). I didn’t have much drive to get back to Mount Rushmore – considering how disappointing it was the first time but nonetheless it is a National Monument and Ted and Danta needed a photo-op. Unfortunately Danne wasn’t as impressed by it either so we took a few stash pictures and headed east to the Badlands. We stopped in at Wall Drug where I bought some of there 10 cent coffee that tasted like garbage and Danne purchased some ridiculously amazing trinkets in one of the stores. The sun was going down as we continued to head eastward. Passing antelope, cattle and deer – shining our headlights into the fields and beyond we quietly made our way to Joe and Julie’s.
When we arrived we were greeted by Joe who seemed surprised to see Danne standing there instead of Rory. I explained that Rory was still in Portland and gave him a big hug. Julie was on the couch with Lillian – their newest edition to the family. She was a beautiful baby girl who didn’t exist in the outside world just a few months before when we first met Joe and Julie. Joe told us we were about to embark on a cultural experience of some local food – which happened to be the only place in town – The Wagon Wheel which also happened to be the only bar in town. So, Danne and I joined Joe on the 2-minute walk to the bar where we picked up our pizza. I laughed. The place was absolutely perfect – with signed dollar bills adorning the walls as well as memorabilia, the thick smell of cigarettes and that genuine small town bar feeling. We met a few of the locals and headed back to indulge in some pizza and good conversation. Joe wanted to know more about the farms so I told him the story of White Buffalo in Colorado – it had been a while since I told that story. We all laughed, shuttered and reflected. I told Joe about the farm I was hoping to visit when I got back home and he was very interested in it all – it was cool. We talked for a little while longer until our eyelids grew heavy with the weight of the day.
Danne and I set up camp against the canopy of stars with the tent top off so we could enjoy the beauty and depth of the South Dakota night sky. We both slept the whole night through – it was amazing. There’s nothing better than sleeping under the starry sky and waking up to the sun coming up over the earth… But what was more amazing was yet to come … a hot shower! Neither one of us could control our excitement – it was excellent. Even having a sink to do our dishes was awesome. The morning was filled with tractor talks and thoughtful words with Joe. We yanked out the map and he showed me where he’s been and where he’s lived. I’d love to see some of the places he’s been through his eyes.
I thought how strange it must be to live in such a small town where you really are or have to become your own best friend. I don’t know if I’d be able to live with so much silence in such wide open space. I respect both Joe and Julie for the life that they live – so far away from their families and in such a remote and isolated place. It gave me something to think about… After our relaxing morning I packed up the car while Danne caught up with some friends over the telephone. I had some time to kill so I checked my email real quick and decided to check out the deals on Hawaiian flights. Turns out the deal I had read about before leaving was to end that night on Kayak. I had to decide my winter fate. I wasn’t going back east for nothing – I was going to Hawaii this winter. I had the afternoon to figure out what I was going to do… whether it be that day or later I was going to buy my ticket… but first I think I needed a piece of pie…