Westward Ho! Day 2

Interior, SD (9 AM) to Billings, MT (5:30PM).  393 miles.

I slept like the dead.  Then, the alarm on my phone went off after I thought I’d turned it off (I was pretty boo-boo faced last night after my four hour learning curve on the Microsoft laptop).  I fell out of my oh-so comfy king-sized bed trying to find the Dream-Killer.  As is inevitable after the alarm goes off, Nature called, and I slammed my head into the bathroom vanity in the dark.  Which made me use new and Technicolor swears while laughing.  So much for sleeping in.

FrostyInstead, I did the Sun Salutation until my aching back started to unknot (thank you, Jinjer) and puttered.  Before I left the Circle View Ranch, I spent some quality time with Frosty, one of the hosts.  It was nice to be claimed by an unknown cat.  Sort of validated my whole existence as a human being.

Wyatt's HideawayMy mood slid south while I pointed Corvus northwest.  I wasn’t surprised by the depression after Sunday’s giddiness; too much tension, too tired, too much of too much.  Moderation was required.  And another validation of who I am as a human being.

The Badlands became foothills, which looked like mountains to me.  At a rest stop outside Piedmont, I pondered my life as a Flatlander.

IMG_0342Here were ranches and homes tucked into the crook of these huge elbows of rock.  Didn’t people get claustrophobic?  How did they orient without a horizon?  How could they prepare for bad weather if they couldn’t see it coming?  Maybe there was a sense of safety and comfort in being nestled up against a mountain-ish thing.  I don’t think I’d like it.  I’d always be looking over my shoulder.

antelopeThe speed limit out here is 80 mph on the freeway (or “motorway,” as John calls it).  I couldn’t bring myself to go that fast.  Even 75 felt out of control and dangerous.  I’m sure a lot of colorful swears darted through the whooshing air as everyone passed me, but what with zipping up and down mountains on curvy roads, and juggling a water bottle, and maybe changing out the audiobook, I thought prudence should prevail.  Besides, I might have missed the little herds of antelope grazing on the slopes, and they were too sweet to be missed.

Tonight, my hosts, John and Coreen welcomed me into their home.  It still feels a little odd barging into someone’s home to stay the night.  I know that’s my bipolarness talking.  I know I’ve paid them to let me sleep in their pretty guest room.  We had a wonderful conversation about mental illness (Coreen’s sister has BP), Habitat for Humanity (which is John’s post-retirement job), the plight of Native Americans, and some religion thrown in for spice.  I sat in Coreen’s kitchen, slurping my Ramen noodles while she prepared their supper, and John complained about being hungry.  It all seemed so normal.

I can sit with my moments of feeling like an intruder.  They’re just another bit of bipolar not-good-enough muddying the view.  I can counter them with the warm fuzziness of meeting kind and generous folk at the end of a long day’s journey.

Depression and antelopes.  Speed and hospitality.  It all evens out.

 

Westward, Ho! Day 1

Marshalltown, IA (7 AM Central) to Interior, SD (5:30 Mountain).  575 miles.
Notable tunes: Don Henley’s Cass County.  Audiobook: Terry Pratchett’s Nation.

It was a dark and gloomy night… er… morning.

Packed UpI could barely believe that THE DAY had come.  No more lists.  No more sleepless nights (There’s a Country song in there some place), just my nosey neighbor hurrying out to snoop as I finished packing the car, her barky wiener dog in tow.  In no time, I’d shaken the Marshalltown dust off my wheels and set out in the lowering gloom.

mink1First rest stop was Sac City, where I got a whiff of Skunk as I gassed up the car.  Auspicious!  Skunk became my Animal Guide in a sweat lodge ceremony eons ago.  Her scent still makes me feel protected and in the flow.  Then, when I walked along the North Racoon River, I spotted a mink at the water’s edge.  My aunt used to raise mink, so I knew it wasn’t just a weasel.  The gifts seemed to be tumbling out of the trees!

North RacoonIt felt wonderful to squish in mud along the water’s edge, to see geese and hear the bird chatter.  I was glad to have my hat, as the wind at 34 degrees still held a bit of winter.

And who knew Sac City was the home of Barn Quilts?  The things one learns On the Road.

Barn QuiltThe next stop was Tea, South Dakota.  I mean, really, how could I not stop for a spot of Tea after being bossed around by John Cleese all day (His best bit so far has been:  “In 500 yards, bear right; beaver left.”) and listening to a fabulous Terry Pratchett audiobook, read by a lovely British baritone (yes, there are actually a few of those I don’t know or claim as Pretend Boyfriends)?Tea, anyone?

A few hours further west, the skies cleared, the snow melted and temperatures warmed into the 50s.  No more adventures, just clear sailing in the bright sunshine and on into the Badlands.  I knew those naughty bits were close by, but didn’t expect to drive through the State park.  What a feast to wind through all that topographical drama!Badlands

The sun sloped from the west as I drove through The Circle View Ranch’s gate.  A family played ring-toss in the yard.  A scrappy herder-dog watched them from the porch of the main house.  Chickens meandered and pecked along the drive.Circle View Ranch

Badland Chickens

My room is lovely with a private bathroom.  I think my cowboy nephew would like it here.

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Time to wash my Ramen bowl and call it a day.

 

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