Monday, September 14, 2009

Where The Road Never Ends

Today we drove ... and drove ... AND DROVE. To my surprise, Mom got behind the wheel first.

But before you get all excited about me being wrong in last night's post ... we got in the car at 8:30 am. Mom pulls over three hours later and asks me to drive. I'm playing captain until we stop at 7:30 pm.

Anyway, we roll into Buffalo, Wyoming (named after the city in New York State, not the animal), and we pass a highway -- only I don't catch if it's 25 or 90. We're looking for 90. There's a lot of construction, so it's a bit confusing. I'm looking at the map and giving Mom directions, but so is Grandma with her own map. That's upped the ante on confusing, and I calmly ask if there is any way just one person can be the navigator.

Grandma loses her cool a little. She says she'll just shut up. And she does -- for just about the rest of the day. You could have heard a pin drop in the car.

Do you know how bad it sucks when your sweet-as-pie Grandmother gives you the silent treatment?

There's a small period of thawing when we stop at Fort Devil's Tower Bar & Restaurant for lunch. This place is GREAT. It's a log cabin style building, with a loft view of Devil's Tower National monument. It's literally a one-man operation this time of year. The owner, Rick Nelson, takes our order, cooks our food, and brings the yummy tex-mex style bison burgers out to the table. When he asks what we want to drink, Grandma asks for coffee. I ask him to put a shot of whiskey in it. She says I probably want to put arsenic in it. I explain to Rick that Gram is mad at me right now, and he says he can't believe I cause any trouble. The girls start cracking up.

Obviously, he doesn't know "trouble" is my middle name.

While we wait for our food, we start chatting with the only other folks in the place when we arrive. They're classic car enthusiasts from Arizona that have joined about 30 others to drive their cars about 3,000 miles to spots near Mt. Rushmore. Jan tells me a story about Guam's legendary mermaid, "Sirena". To read about the legend, CLICK HERE.

Rick sits down with us for a spell to chat while we eat. He's selling shares in his business for $1000 a share and a minimum of ten shares. He'd like to expand. During the motorcycle rally at nearby Sturgis, he says he gets 60,000 bikers through his doors. There's one thing Rick says that I just love:
"You stop moving, you get complacent. Then you get more complacent. Then you die."
He's 69 and says he plans to live another 200 years.

We roll by Devil's Tower and check out the prairie dog colony at it's base. Really makes me want to play Whack-A-Mole.

Next, it's off to Mt. Rushmore, where Grandma is thoroughly disgusted by the commercialism. She says when she was here last, none of the stuff was built. The parking garage ... the gift shops ... the ampitheatre. It's all new. She says it takes away from the magnitude of the experience, and I can see what she means. It's more like an exhibit than an experience. I imagine what it would be like to be hiking here in the Black Hills Forest and look up to see these huge stone faces staring out from the mountainside. And I will say this is the first national park that charged for parking ($10). It was a little off-putting.

We head down the road to the Crazy Horse Monument, but since they want $27, plus additional for the ride around to see the face, we skip it. I take a profile picture as we turn around. Once you've see one face carved in stone, you've seen them all. I'll come back when it's finished.

Then it's on to Custer State Park. They're supposed to have LOT'S of bison, so I'm psyched. Our twilight tour through the park is eventful -- with tons of deer eating dinner roadside, wild turkey escorting their chicks across the road, and bison hiding in the trees.

I hoped we could stay in the park, if there was a room available. As we pull up to the lodge, we are absolutely dumbfounded to see at least five bison roaming around the grounds munching their grassy dinner. I almost feel like I'm at a Walt Disney World attraction. They are so close they don't seem real. We take pics, and Mom seems to loosen up a little around the big shaggy beasts. We get our very own cabin -- complete with fireplace. I won't tell the girls how much we paid for it until they see it. They're convinced we'll have to sleep in the car the rest of the trip given how absolutely fabulous it is. Must be expensive. They just about faint when I tell them I got it for $100 bucks.

After dinner at the lodge, where I have bison meatloaf, Grandma tells us a story about how the cook of a wagon train. She says he would carry sourdough bread in his shirt to keep it warm and continue the fermentation process. They would use some of it to make biscuits that day, and the rest for starter. Eeeew. I ask her how she knows this, because frankly I think it's just plain unhygienic and wrong. She says, to Mom and I, "Don't you two read anything?"
Mom ignores her. She says it's because Grandma was there. It was right before they moved the Alamo.

Poor Gram. We really do tease her a LOT.

We're heading back to the room. I have a surprise -- smores to cook in the fireplace in the room.

I hope I get to see more buffalo when I wake up in the morning. Bison.



  1. I got plenty of chuckles off of today's post! Thanks for the laughter, A Texas who is wishing you all happy Trails!

  2. Man. It sucks to get the silent treatment from Grandma. I would've been so sad all day. I'm sure you were too. Seems like you are enjoying a LOT of bison stuff. Mmmmm I love it, I'm a little sad at how much I love it now that I know there are only 300,000 of them on the earth. I hope other people don't learn to loveit as much as I you and I do! :) I'll be looking forward to tomorrows post. You ladies have a great day, and be nice to each other. xo

  3. Posted by Kathy Church:

    Hey Amy - I googled the website today & got a hit right away (kind of cool - and convenient).

    Sending you birthday wishes - will have a drink or two in your honor!

  4. Don't be to hard on Caroline and her disgust at the crass commercialism now in place at Mt. Rushmore. Having voted for several of the Presidents featured, she would naturally be protective of their image.

    PS My mother is her with me and she says if I push "Post Comment" I can kiss my Christmas jar of ginger goodbye....