South Dakota to Minnesota

My last post was a tiny bit critical of Wyoming, and I feel a little bad about that because I have now seen South Dakota. I like to think of myself as a rather observant person. Whether I am or not is a completely different matter; nevertheless, let me share with you some observations I have made about certain parts of our wonderful country.  South Dakota is a state where the only things that cast shadows are the clouds and the telephone poles. Driving through South Dakota is like (as Katie aptly put) driving on a treadmill. If any of you can remember the chase scenes in any old cartoons or the opening credits of the Flintstones, where the characters pass by an endlessly recycling landscape of one house, one tree, and some shapeless blurry colors then you know what it is like to drive through South Dakota. At every slight rise in the road I found some small emotion growing inside of me. A sliver of anticipation, at first, then an ounce of hope that something on the other side of that rise would be just a weensy bit different than the last two hundred miles. But no. That ounce of hope was continually transformed into a bitter cup of disappointment. At more than one point in my drive I considered pulling off the highway because I thought we were going in circles.

What I found more disturbing about this state however, was the severe lack of a particular age group of people. I kid you not, I don’t believe I saw a single person between the ages of 16 and 35 during my three days in South Dakota. I don’t know what is going on there, but I think the government needs to look into it. There was nothing but old couples with what I am assuming were their grandchildren. An entire generation has been lost. Perhaps they flocked to a coast, or joined the military, or there is a Hunger Game’s type contest taking place. If there are any South Dakotans out there in the young adult age range, please respond to this post. We miss you.

On the other hand, some good things happened in South Dakota. We were able to shower after a week’s worth of camping and driving. The inside of the truck smells something like an old shoe soaked in a fruity sports drink. We are cleaner now and much happier. We drove about a half an hour south of Rapid City in order to visit yet another national treasure, MOUNT RUSHMORE!. I already regret those capital letters, it was okay. Mount Rushmore is one of those attractions where it always looks bigger on TV and once you get there, look at it for a while, and take a couple pictures where it looks like you are picking the presidents’ noses, you shrug to yourself and say, “now what?”.  This is exactly what we did. Then we read some plaques and watched an informational video that essentially read the plaques back to us. We did learn some interesting things. For instance, did you know that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the same Fourth of July? True patriots indeed.

Once we exhausted South Dakota of its attractions, (visited Rushmore) we continued on toward Minnesota. Minnesota was a lovely change of pace, and so far my favorite state line crossing. I swear that the fluffy white clouds manifested directly above the Minnesota state line. As we drove on the grass became greener and the sky became bluer. Everything in Minnesota vibrated with color and came to life. The whole state looked like a Midwest postcard and it seemed too good to be true. Then I realized, whenever you think something is too good to be true, it probably is. The second I realized this, Minnesota developed an indescribably eerie aura. It was beautiful and innocent, but that was after 600 miles of dark and dreary driving. Minnesota is like the innocent looking child standing at the end of a dark hallway. No matter how cute the kid looks, the context makes the cute kid look creepy and menacing. I’m sorry, Minnesota but Wyoming and South Dakota have surrounded you in a creepy hallway and now I don’t trust you. This lack of trust was complicated by the fact that we had to camp on a grassy patch with cornfields on three sides of us and the freeway on the fourth. Everyone knows that you don’t sleep near cornfields. Also, our only camping neighbor was an elderly woman with three too many dead teeth and a birth mark that made her look like Scar from the Lion King. She didn’t say anything no matter how pleasant we were, but always wore a smile plastered to her sagging face. Okay, listen up smile enthusiasts, if you hold an unflinching smile for more than ten seconds and you don’t talk, it is all sorts of discomforting to all onlookers. I won’t lie, I slept with my pocket knife in my hand in Minnesota and I didn’t even bother doing that when in Yellowstone when I knew a badger was sleeping five feet from my head.

South Dakota: You were a lovely state full of kindly old people. Dear woman at Walmart who cut my hair, one side burn is a good inch longer than the other. Superstore, my butt.

Minnesota: You are a beautiful and lovely state full of very kind and giving people but I don’t trust you.

Wisconsin: Sorry we didn’t stay. Thanks for the cheese.

Readers: Thanks for making it this far. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio to be up soon. Stay tuned.

Cheers,
Matt

 

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2 Comments

  1. Awesome!!!! Best yet.

    Reply
  2. Susan Gill

     /  August 23, 2012

    Not only did John Adams and TJ die on July 4, it was on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (1826). Adams’ last words were reported to be: “Jefferson lives!” Alas, Jefferson had already died.

    Reply

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