Saturday, June 25, 2016

Montana and South Dakota

When I entered Montana, I quickly grabbed a bite to eat and then drove to my hotel about an hour away. I got settled and had a shower (to rinse off the camping). I blogged a little and then I went down to the hotel bar at happy hour for dinner and a drink. 

Next to me sat a local man who clearly knew the bartender and who had obviously been to work that day. His white shirt, taught over his big belly, was covered in grease and dirt, as were his hands. 

He started talking to me and I realized that I hadn't talked to anyone else on this trip. His name was Mark and he worked on the power lines for years. He even went to Katrina, which was an interesting story. 

He said when a natural disaster happens "they" call the power company and say, "Send everyone". They even bend the rules for trucking. So, you can drive straight from Livingston, Montana all the way to New Orleans without a break and then go to work on high voltage power lines.(!!!!) 

He said a 25 year old kid came with him as part of the team. By the end of the few weeks they were down there, the kid had $100,000 in the bank. He wanted to fly home but there were no flights, so he went into a car dealership to buy a car and drive home. They didn't believe that he had the money, so he went to the bank. The next day he paid for a brand new truck with cash and drove back to Livingston Montana. 

Mark was a very nice guy. He told me many stories, but after two shots and two beers (at least after I got there) he was pretty loopy and needed to go home, which was literally across the street. 

After he left, I talked to some tourists who came from Illinois. They drove to Yreka, California to pick up their grandkids and were driving back to Illinois. Their grandkids were 14 and 10. They were having a few drinks while the kids were up in the room.

They said, "I don't think they appreciate the drive. They're always on their phones." I said my parents drove me across country when I was 10 and I didn't appreciate it at the time either, but I sure do now. 

After dinner, I went up to my room and blogged for hours. And that was pretty much my entire experience in Montana. The next day, I drove straight to South Dakota. The route I took in Montana was very boring and there is nothing to say about it, except that I stopped at a taxedermy shop to stretch my legs. The little dog (Pepper) was a very good guard dog and barked at me until I left.

South Dakota, what little I saw of it, was beautiful. I went to Sturgis, which is where the motorcycle rally happens every year. I went to the Harley-Davidson store expecting to buy something, but nothing fit, and I'm not a motorcycle rider anymore, so I decided not to buy anything from there. 

I ended up buying a mug from the Sturgis coffee shop, since I am still a coffee drinker.

Then I drove to Deadwood, South Dakota through the Black Hills. The Black Hills were more beautiful than the black forest in Germany. The drive was perfect (windy with lots of twists and turns) for a motorcycle and I did see many of them. 

Deadwood is such a cute place. It's very wild west and, as my friend Amanda would say, it is faux-dorable. 

I went into all the souvenir shops and a couple restaurants and bars just to see what they were like. For the most part, it felt like a Sturgis run off. It was full of motorcycle men (bikers) and their motorcycle mamas and it made me feel generally uncomfortable. I might write more about this later but for now I'd like to move on. 

My hotel room in Deadwood made it feel like it was 1890. There were push button lights and a clawfoot tub, a water closet and no phone. The place was adorable and I loved every minute of it. It was within walking distance to downtown and I managed to catch a shoot-out show with Calamity Jane just before a thunderstorm came in. 

My room even had KEYS. Actual keys!
Calamity Jane
I even went to Saloon Number 10 which is the site that Wild Bill Hickok was shot. 

Deadwood was great and the Black Hills of South Dakota are gorgeous to drive through. My hotel was lovely, my time driving in South Dakota was lovely. Even though I was promised Bighorn Sheep, I didn't actually see any which was a little disappointing.

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