Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 4 - Thursday August 25, 2011

Day 4

1899 miles
9:05 am
Got a late start since we didn't get into  Pierre, SD until midnight!
This mornings Morfar coffee index is $0 thanks to Chase the cashier at the Shell Station!

My driving rating is down to below 0 after I pulled a "duke of Hazards stunt". Sofia did not appreciate me going straight thru the stop sign giving the car some air as we jumped over the railroad tracks and landed on a  dirt road with a big thump. This all happened on a dark lonely Rt 14 road  thru SD; the road took a sharp left and I missed it. Sorry.... Car, driver and passenger are all OK - all that is gone is trust.

The sunset through South Dakota was so stunning, only to be replaced by a nights sky so bejeweled with stars everywhere. We stepped out of the car and reached our hands up to the sky to take some with us home... From horizon to horizon stars everywhere, milky, creamy beautiful milky way.

Wow...big sky, this is the prairie and it is so expansive. I get it! Rolling hills and lots of sunflowers! The wind is ever present and the smell of fresh grass far surpasses any of Yankee Candles scents.

Later... But with another free extra hour..... It's freakin' HOT today!! We are a little jealous of you guys who get to experience Hurricane Irene, especially Anna who is dying to get back on her board and hit some surf. But we've got some weather of our own here in South Dakota, USA. It's at least 95, and even the clouds look a little sweaty and bloated. That's not true. They're sweet little wispy things, serving only to add depth and contrast to our shots of the Badlands. We just drove the Badlands Loop, and it's another gigantic testament to our youth as a species, and to our puny size. At the same time, it reminds us that we're part of something so much bigger than we can fathom. Wait, are we in the Bible Belt?However you look at it,the geology of this place is amazing and we have a million photos to prove it.

We've talked with many people again today. Shocking, I know. The woman at the counter of the gas station in Philips has lived here all her life, and she was the subject of our Daily Coffee Question: "Do you drink the stuff?". She assured us that she loves the new coffee system they have at the store, and she made us a fresh pot. Good thing, too, because our "free" coffee from the Shell station was disgusting, due to a half&half gone bad. So much for winning Moofa's Cheap Coffee Index! A cup can only win if you can actually drink it! Anyway, the fresh stuff at the Philips place was $.99 for16 oz. Into dumt, eller hur, Moofa?!

Our socializing also included the coffee lady's grandpa, Walt, a seasoned farmer who wasn't sure what Anna meant by the word "crop", and who gave us a big yellow squash which he brings to the store to get rid of. "They keep coming". When Anna told him she was from Sweden he asked "Where's that?", to which she replied "Oh, you know, somewhere in Europe." A perfectly acceptable answer when the farthest east you've been is Wisconsin.

We also met a Swiss couple at Pinnacles Overlook in the Badlands National Park. We had a great conversation with them in Gerdishglish, which is a combination of German, Swedish and English. Anna and I impressed each other with our excellent fake-it techniques, taking Swedish words and spitting them out a little harder to make them sound like Deutsch. Anna is actually really good at speaking German, and I was able to use the few concepts I learned freshman year of college combined with the Swiss influence from a cute traveler from Zurich a few years ago. You gotta use what ya got!

So far for wildlife we have seen:
2 dead porcupines
7 deer (3 dead, 4 alive)
1 turkey vulture (alive)
1 blue heron (flying)
Lots of horses (so sweet)
Hundreds of cows, all sorts
Pigs in a truck (approximately 80)
Cows in a truck (still alive)
Grasshoppers (some hopping, others flattened)
1 giant spider, black with yellow spots
3 antelope (kickin' it prairie style)
1 very tiny turtle (probably dead by now; it was crossing Rt 14)
Bugs of all sizes and varieties, obliterated on our windshield, and on my bike handlebars

On the outskirts of Rapid City at Flying J's truck stop a white dirty pickup truck pulls up. The driver fumbles but quickly finds his tank top and pulls it over his head. He jumps out of the truck, his long black braid bouncing on his back, as he walks into the store. Let me introduce  you to Jay Redhawk, a ranch owner who breeds Spanish Mustangs. He just ended a long day of work building fences. He is a bit embarrassed when we ask to take his picture at the same time his bright blue eyes light up. It turns out he is no stranger to modeling since his family is filled with artists.  His body is tanned after long hours working under the sun,  chaps on his legs are their for protection when he builds fences. He is of to his own ranch, where he offers classes on how to shoot bow and arrow from the horseback. Look me up on Facebook he says as he hands us his business card. The truck pulls out and he shouts his parting farewell, "Drive safely and look out for antelopes"...

For more photos from Day 4, check out the slide show below!

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