Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day Four: Mitchell, South Dakota to Billings, Montana - 696 miles

Ah, South Dakota, land of the hand-painted billboards. My favorites today were "WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT: Keep our Animal Population Under Control - Wear Fur!" and "Meet Buck, one of the horses who played 'Cisco' in Dances With Wolves!" I am completely serious.

I have to say, South Dakota surprised me. It is really beautiful. The landscape is varied and dramatic. Even the vast, seemingly undifferentiated prairie is breathtaking. But there's also the rolling green hills of the Missouri River Valley, the desolate, craggy Badlands and the alpine areas around Rapid City.

Today Rocky learned how to use rest stops. He's been so good in the car, but today, just outside of Mitchell, he started having a complete fit. He was yowling and trying to open the cage door and just generally making quite a fuss. I wondered if maybe he'd reached the end of his traveling tether, but then I remembered that only Starbuck had left a present in the litter box this morning. Fortunately there was a rest stop just up ahead. I took out a small roasting pan I had brought along for just this possibility, put some litter in it, and put it in the kennel. Rocky sniffed it, pawed it, and then squatted over it. Success! It worked out well, not only because I didn't end up having to drive a stinky car or clean the kennel (I just threw the contents of the roasting pan into the trash at the rest stop), but the rest area itself was perched on a high hill overlooking the Missouri River, and it was quite beautiful.

Since the time change mid-state gave us an extra hour on our journey, I decided I might as well take the detour south from Rapid City and see Mount Rushmore, since I don't plan on being in South Dakota again real soon (though, I must say, now I'd like to come back and spend more time) and the weather was absolutely spectacular.

Once we crossed into Wyoming, I started feeling very sleepy, so I took advantage of a conveniently placed rest area and took about a 20 minute nap. That was all I needed to get me through the rest of today's looooong journey. (Well, okay, I stopped in Gillette for a Dairy Queen Blizzard.) The drive across north-central Wyoming was spectacular, and it only increased in beauty as we crossed into Montana.

The late afternoon sun was a rich golden color, and the grass a vibrant spring green. Unfortunately, my windshield became plastered over with bugs, so some of the pictures are kind of gross.

After checking in and getting the cats set up, I went across the street to the local "family restaurant" for a burger. I noticed the menu said "Domestic Beers $2; Imported Beers $2.50," so I asked which domestic beers they had. "Um, which ones are those?" the waitress asked. "Anything made in America," I clarified. "Yeah, I kinda thought so, I can never remember. Umm, we have...Bud, Bud Light...umm...Coors? I think that's it." I had a Coors.

Once I made it to Wyoming I already began to feel like I was "back." Not that one would mistake Wyoming for Oregon (at least, not the Portland area), but it is definitely "the West." Two more days!


Jeremiah said...

Hello Andy

Beautiful shots of Mt. Rushmore.
I'm glad the children are behaving and all that worry was for naught!

Hang in there, almost there.

Cheers from Montreal

Jeff said...

Which cat took the photo of you in front of Mount Rushmore? Rocky or Starbuck?

Gino said...

i was wondering the same thing.

Huomiseksi said...

That t-shirt looks familiar...
When you get to Portland, young lady, the first thing you'd better do is laundry!

Thanks to these pics and your travelogue ("travelblogue?") it's really starting to dawn on me what a colossal transition this move is for you. You are truly inspiring.

I already miss you.

Jarred said...

Wait a second! I didn't see a single cat picture in this whole post. You're slipping!

Your description of this journey has been captivating. I suspect I'll be a little sad when it draws to a close.

Mark said...

OH MY GOD!!!!!!! How did I find you? Wait until I tell Alicia and Mary!!!!

(music plays - - three cardinals glide forward - - "Whereas you, Galileo Galilei, Florentine..")


LeshDogg said...

Andy -

Just got caught up. Glad to see the trip is going well.

Drop the #%&@! FM Transmitter for your iPod. Go for the good old-fashioned tape with the mini-jack on it. The wires are cumbersome, but it's much more reliable than the transmitter.

Andy said...

Jarred: Look a little closer! Rocky's in there!

Actually a very friendly park ranger helped me out. I was clumsily attempting to take a picture of myself, and it wasn't working. He just volunteered. You know you're back west when people just offer to help for no reason other than to be friendly.

Huomi, that was a totally clean t-shirt. The red shirt I had on when we were moving out got thrown away; it's a cat-hair magnet anyway. But yes, laundry is definitely in order.

Mark: small world, the internets! Praise Gore! : )

Lesh: well, the car I'm getting in Oregon doesn't have a tape deck. I'll have to figure something out.

Jarred said...

Ah yes! I missed him the first time. I stand corrected.