Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 34-July 4, 2011- West Bend of the Missouri-Harrold South Dakota

Dearest Readers,

Happy birthday America! The day started with a 4th of July parade through downtown Sundance Wyoming. Several high school graduating classes made pick-up truck, car and tractor floats honoring their year.

This is Ken and Joyce, class of 47. She’s wearing a nametag around her neck. The name and date is correct she said, but the picture from her yearbook is the wrong girl.

Etta and I entered South Dakota early in the day, traveling through the Black Hills that stretch across both the Wyoming and South Dakota borders. We passed a road to Mount Rushmore and a turnoff to the sad site of the massacre of Sioux families at Wounded Knee.

I whizzed by an exit to the badlands too. I glimpsed the desolate, grand canyon-like terrain and figured “bad” did not mean good. I learned my lesson at the sand hills of West Texas. Camping under trees is critical for me.

The South Dakota hills rolled out and gradually flattened as I traveled east. I exited I-90 and drove through tiny towns with straightforward names like Quinn (pop.6) Philip (pop. 880), Midland and the lovely Cottonwood, SD (pop. 4).

It was 98 degrees in Philip at 4pm when I stopped for a precious fill-up, and a windshield scrub. Locusts and grasshoppers are stuck to my grill, headlights and front window.

America’s landscape is its bounty. We drove by grain silos with wheat fields in the background, miles and miles of grasslands, some with jellyroll bales of hay. I saw a tractor pulling a device that chopped the grass and left it in flat rows. Another tractor pulled a boxy trailer that sucked up the rows of grass, and seemed to swirl the stalks on the spin cycle and plopped an occasional rolled bale out the back.

We crossed the Missouri at the state capitol, Pierre, and entered Central Time. I am still somewhat following the Lewis and Clark trail, but in the opposite direction.

Etta and I and half of South Dakota are camped at a family beachside, (but buggy site) at the West Bend of the Missouri in Harrold, SD tonight. I’m slathered in Cutters and it’s working thank God. Another campground up the river is underwater from the recent spring floods. This place is fine.

In our tent picture, the river is in the distance behind the pickups.

I'm happy with the simplicity and efficiency of my tent camping, sandwiched between RVs, boats, trailers, big pick ups, SUVs, jet-skies and all terrain 3-wheeled dirt bikes. Tonight I’m enjoying the electricity, flush toilets, a wide river view, and glorious hot showers that do not require quarters. The place even his wi-fi. All I'd like now is a laundry for my sweaty, dusty clothes.

A baby grackle tumbled down from the tree near my picnic table a few minutes ago. It’s dazed, unable to fly, totters with wings fluttering. Mom and Dad in the branches above are helplessly squawking. I shooed it away from Etta who didn’t seem very interested. Life can be harsh and cruel in the midst of so much celebration and fun.

Big thunderstorm tonight around midnight. Not too much rain, but big gusts of wind, thunder and lightening that shook Etta pants and the little tent. This is the view at dusk before the storm.

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