Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 25 - Altoona, IA to Custer State Park, South Dakota

Tuesday July 13th, 2010 7:02AM Central Time. Motel 6 off I80 in Altoona, IA. Just started my second cup of industrial coffee. Dylan is sleeping in the bed next to the table. I took an Ambien last night to sleep. I DID sleep but, as always with Ambien, it wears off between 6 to 7 hours after taking it so there's no such thing as sleeping in late. I sometimes wonder if my mind will someday relax enough so that I can actually sleep in. I so envy these people who can lie in bed until late morning and, in some cases, early afternoon. I haven't been able to do that for a LONG time. There is always so much on my mind. As soon as my mind starts going, my body follows and I might as well just get up....so I do.

When I get home, things will be different. I'm a changed person now because of this trip. I've seen the beauty...and the ugly...that this country has to offer. I must always keep things in perspective once I'm back home and enjoying the fruits of my family's combined labors. The show of wealth is quite a bit different as you get away from the cities. It seems that, in the cities, the show is made up of cars and homes. When you get out to the country, the show is made up of RV's, boats and kick-ass 4x4 pickups. There is less emphasis put on how big or what your home looks like. Don't get me wrong, most people take care of their homes but it's not about where you live or whether you're better than the Joneses next door. We'll be driving down some backwoods highway somewhere and there, in the middle of nowhere, is a homestead with a decent pre-manufactured home on it and parked next door is a brand new 40' long 3 axle 5th wheel RV with a huge Dodge pickup to haul it around. You see that everywhere!!!! Well, I guess when you can buy a really nice house sitting on about 2 acres of land for a little over a $100k, it makes it easy to afford all these toys, huh? I think that location has a lot to do with it also. It is so difficult to get out and enjoy nature in SoCal. If you go to the State Parks, you have to reserve a spot 6 months in advance. They literally have lotteries for some of the most popular spots in the more popular parks. To get away from that, you have to drive 300+ miles which limits your visits to long weekends or vacations. In the rest of the US, you can drive less than 100 miles and be in the middle of nowhere enjoying a fantastic park for a weekend. Most of the people we have met at the parks live only about an hour away. Us Angelenos are missing out on the recuperation that a weekend away can give. We must find an alternative.

Well....enough with dreaming about things I can't have.

Today will be another day of long freeway driving....not as long as yesterday but we'll still probably do 300+ miles today. The weather forecast looks great for south central South Dakota so I'm excited to get back into the tent tonight. I really wish we had the time to get off the Interstates and back onto the smaller highways. The Interstates are so mind-numbing. A ribbon of concrete with green on each side that stretches for miles and miles punctuated only by the frequent construction slow downs. Time to get my son up!!! I'll post more about today later.

We decided to make the run all the way to Custer St. Pk. in the Mt. Rushmore area of South Dakota. 668 miles of 80 MPH freeway lined with billboards for the last 400 miles of it touting the Black Hills area of SD. Other than stopping to pee and get gas, the only stop we made was at Wall Drug. What the hell is Wall Drug, you ask? It's a drug store that was converted into a tourist trap back in the '50s and it still is. We bought a couple trinkets there and got a cool bumpersticker for the bike rack.

It's a good thing that we got a same-day reservation at Custer St. Pk. because every single campground was at capacity. We got our site, set up, cracked a beer and started bbqing steaks within half an hour. Very cool. Tomorrow, we're off to see Rushmore, the Jewel Cave and anything else that looks interesting.


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