You know you're in South Dakota when you're driving down the interstate and you see roadside billboards opposing abortion and animal rights activism.
We spent a lovely, restful night in Mendota. Starbuck curled up next to me on the bed; I think Rocky spent the night on the windowsill watching the semis go by. That's where he was when I turned out the lights, and it's where he was when I woke up.
We continued north on I-39 early this morning. When we passed this sign, Rocky assured me that I had just missed our exit, but I told him we still had a ways to go yet.
I want to thank my friends and co-workers who encouraged me to go north across Wisconsin and Minnesota rather than sticking to I-80 through Iowa to Nebraska. Wisconsin, especially, was beautiful! I would like to come back someday and spend more time there. Everywhere you look, there are rolling green hills and large farms with red barns and silver silos, with lakes and streams and wetlands all over the place, and this morning's weather was bright and clear. Fantastic.
It rained quite a lot as we came across Minnesota, but the traffic was very light so we made pretty good time. The cats are just doing great. When I took out the kennel this morning in Illinois, Rocky just hopped right in and was ready to go. They spent the entire day snuggled together, with no "accidents" or complaining. Rocky meowed a few times, but it was more of a conversational "Hi" sort of meow, rather than "Let me out!" They've totally gotten the hang of it.
I am still irritated with this dumb FM transmitter. I didn't get the iTrip because a friend of mine said he had one to give me, but it was for first-generation iPods so I couldn't use it. The one I got at Borders in New Jersey is the Belkin knockoff. It was still stuck on 102.3 this morning, which has stations on it through most of Illinois and Wisconsin. In Minnesota I had some luck for a while, and then just before we got to South Dakota, somewhere around Luverne, it suddenly switched itself to 88.1, and I got a clear signal from it, which was great until we crossed into Sioux Falls when it became NPR. It is a genuine piece of crap.
South Dakota so far is beautiful. I thought it would be flat like Kansas, but there are hills and meandering wooded creeks all over the place, and at least for now, it's very green. I think they gave us the special pet suite here at the motel; it smells like dog. The cats don't seem to mind.
Because I am getting tired of the steady diet of Burger King and McDonald's, I went to the "fancy" restaurant at the Holiday Inn just up the street. Here is the transcript of the dinner:
Waitress: What can I get for you this evening?
Andy: I'll have the chicken fried steak.
Waitress: Okay, wouldjall like something to drink with that?
Andy: (looking around to see whom else she might be referring to) Yes, I would like a glass of the pinot noir.
Waitress: The what now?
Andy: The pinot noir.
Waitress: (pause) 'Kay.
(about a minute later)
Waitress: I'm sorry, which wine did you want?
Andy: The pinot noir?
Waitress: Right. Okay.
(another 45 seconds later)
Waitress: (holding the wine list) I'm sorry, coudjall point to which one it is?
Andy: This one here.
Waitress: Oh. How'd you pronounce that again?
Andy: Pee-no nwa.
Waitress: Wow, I'm going to have to remember that.
And here I was worried she'd think chicken fried steak and pinot noir was an odd combination, or that it would betray me as a liberal. Having left Minnesota, I am in solidly Red territory for the next 1,200 miles, until we arrive Thursday night in that hot gay mecca, Spokane.