Sunday, September 28, 2003

Here's Part II of the cross-country trip from two years ago. Again, as you're reading, remember that this is written from Seth's perspective, not mine.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Blue Earth, Minnesota (333 miles)

I'd like to say that it was the fifty-foot tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant that made us get off the highway, but we just decided to stop for gas and snacks.

The gas station used to have a Taco Bell Express, but it has gone out of business-recently, apparently. As I stand waiting to get into the restroom, two couples who are part of Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation enter. The woman in the lead walks up to the darkened corner and says, "What? No tacos?" For some reason it strikes me as odd; I guess I'm just accustomed to the preteens overrunning the Taco Bells in Madison.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Mitchell, South Dakota (521 miles)

Stopping for gas again, we also stop for lunch, grabbing sandwiches at Subway and then making our way through a maze of surface-street construction to the world famous Mitchell Corn Palace. The last time I was here was a quarter-century ago, and while the Palace is pretty neat, my picture-augmented memory held it up as much neater. I don't remember it being in the middle of downtown, for one thing; I guess I always thought it was a building out in the middle of the fields. And the colors are much more subdued-the pictures I've seen were taken in 1976, and I guess they fancied it up for the Bicentennial. This year's themes are pretty straight-forward nature themes done in straight-forward corn colors. Jon and I do find a display across the street showing how the decoration is done, and I do have to respect the process. It seems like an awful lot of work, beginning with laying out the design on the building and cutting a whole hell of a lot of corn cobs in half in preparation for mounting them.

Though downtown Mitchell seems to get a lot of its income from tourists, most of the other tourist shops are closed down for the season and there's not much else to see. So after a quick picture of Jon in front of the Corn Palace, and a seemingly interminable wait at a train crossing, we're back on I-90 and headed west.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Kadoka, South Dakota (705 miles)

Only two things are amusing about our stop in Kadoka. One: Jon makes a series of funny jokes about people who were too dumb to spell the name of their own state right, and end up naming their town Kadoka. Two: At the gas station, I wait in line to buy my Diet Coke behind a group of guys loudly planning that evening's visit to a strip club. I'm not quite certain they ever caught on that I was laughing at them and not with them. (Okay, now that time has passed, I'm not certain that either of those items are amusing in retrospect. But then, we were back on the road within fifteen minutes-it didn't leave much time to be amused, and I have to take my amusement where I can get it.)

SEPTEMBER 28 - Wall, South Dakota (758 miles)

Sadly, we arrive in Wall too late to partake of the joys of Wall Drug. But we settle for eating dinner across the street in the Cactus Café, the very restaurant where I had dinner with folks from work on the way back from E3 in May. If you had told me then that I would be eating in that restaurant again just four months later, I don't think I would have believed you. But there we are. The menu isn't quite as cosmopolitan as Burlington's famous White Fox Den, but it goes a little bit beyond bar food, so I enjoy a good French Dip sandwich and a bowl of clam chowder.

On the way out of town, we stop at a gas station-not for gas, but so that I can prove after much frustration at lunch that Sobe Wisdom is unavailable in the state of South Dakota. Like many things in life, I am quickly proven utterly incorrect and come out with a Sobe and a box of Whoppers. Jon is laughing when I come back and points out a truck-driving future redneck who has hung up his truck on the concrete and steel base of an enormous sign, hooking his bumper over the five-inch lug nuts that hold the whole thing upright. We're tempted to stay and watch, but we're behind schedule... so we press on.

SEPTEMBER 28 - Spearfish, South Dakota (856 miles)

With 700 miles under our belt for the day, we stop just short of the Wyoming border. Happily, the hotel we stay at has a pool, so while Jon deals with some unfinished paperwork I go for a swim and read in the hot tub for a while. I have some weird flashes back to a family trip 25 years ago (the same one that took me to Mitchell) and wonder if we stayed here.

Our 8:30 AM wakeup call never comes, and we wake up just past 9:00. Still, even with a trip to a nearby grocery store for water, fruit and road snacks we manage to get back on I-90 by ten, and I pop yet another CD into the Rio as we turn west.
End Part II.

I have a bit more to say about the past few days, but I'm going to make it short.

I skipped the gym to do some work on Wednesday, that wasn't good, because I only went for a short time on Friday, then went to see Bubba Ho-Tep -- this time all the way through -- with Shana and Brian. Saturday skipped the gym to go to Tacoma. Yes, twice in three weeks, I think I'm developing a masochistic streak. The city still stunk. Bad. A bunch of us went to check out an antique and vintage clothing show. No, I wasn't particuarly into it, but it wasn't work and it was a fun group of people. I found some cool, old comics, though, so it wasn't a total waste. When we returned around 7:30 I surfed for a while then went home to do laundry. Oh, I also picked up some magazines and spent time readin them.

Sunday I was up early to go to the gym. That was better than I thought. Based on some reading (remember those magazines I mentioned above?) I've decided to alter my workouts to concentrate more on cardio, so lots of bike and treadmill for me. I haven't been very good about actually rededicating to the gym, but I make steps every week. It's hard to get back into it when I'm not seeing results. Vicious circle anyone?

After the gym I went to Martin's and played History of the World, which is an excellent game that I recommend -- and that's saying something, because I'm not a big fan of board games.

Now I'm headed out for dinner with someone who's getting to be a good friend. I think we're going to check out a pizza place in Ballard. Later.


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