Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Dust In The Wind (On the Home Stretch)

Of course I had failed to download the maps for South Dakota before I left Barb & Jerry’s, so I stopped and got some fries (and free WiFi) at a McDonald's as I entered S.D. I not only got some pretty good fries and a free map download for SD, but a nice walk along a path along a country road nearby. I'd say that stop was pretty much a win-win!

I felt sorry for the owner of the corn field I walked by...obviously there was no way his (or her) corn was going to be knee high by the 4th of July (in the next three days)...so sad. πŸ˜‰

I stopped along the way in Watertown, S.D. just to get some gas and then wandered around the energizing 30 acre conservation park around the Redlin Art Center for about an hour. That was an amazing hour well spent!

Got checked into my motel in Pierre and with the help of Google maps (although I was still suspicious of taking directions from my phone) found Kari’s place with no problem...well, one slight problem, the phone took me to the back side of the apartment building. Well, on reflection, maybe that’s where all cars with out-of-state license plates are sent.

Kari and Sage met me in the parking lot. Sage is a really good dog & I think we bonded pretty well when I played a little fetch with her. Kari fixed me dinner and we got caught up on all sorts of family and job gossip as well as bread baking topics before I headed back to the motel. The next day we planned a bake and went for a touring walk of the river front promenade in Pierre, and the State Capitol grounds as well as finding a great place to have an ice cream!

Incidentally, it’s not pronounced like a Frenchman’s name (Pee-Air), it’s pronounced like an ocean Pier. I got back to my room and shortly thereafter the town was “treated” to quite the electrical storm. I’d forgotten how loud and violent those can be in the mid-West. I suspect that many people with constipation are “helped out” when they are quietly reading and suddenly get a big flash-boom outside their house at night.

Our bread bake on my third day in South Dakota was successful and I’d like to think I gave her some helpful hints to make her dough mixing and baking routines easier. I have decided that having a peel to deliver bread to a pizza stone in your oven is definitely “essential equipment” and that all pizza stones should be rectangular. This was because I took some of Kari’s bread dough and shaped it into a baguette...things were going well until I tried to deliver it (without a peel) onto the round pizza stone in the oven and ended up with a tragically twisted, life-like, side-winding, bread snake. Well, at least it tasted good and gave us a hearty chuckle.

Pierre’s Capitol grounds are much more extensive than I remembered. I suspect, like everything else I’ve experienced on this trip, a lot has changed in the past few years. I say a few years, but looking up the records of the Capitol Pee, I see that we last came through here in August of 2002. It doesn’t really matter cause my poor, ‘ol brain cells have been charged with a lot of memories to retain and I can’t blame them if they missed “just another beautiful park”.

Another thing I enjoyed while visiting Kari, is that her apartment is about 10 minutes away from a Menards “super store”...I’m sure without a guide or enforcer, I’d simply would’ve ended up wandering around for days through all the aisles of various things for sale. I ended up with some dragonfly solar lights for home and got Kari a pizza peel...no more bread snakes...and completed my daily walking goals with an 18,968 step (9.5 miles) day. At one point during one of my walks, I thought I had come across an isolated, extremely local hail & ice storm cell...but it turned out to be where the local ice company had just cleaned out some equipment...my version would have been much more entertaining. At least the guy in the mask didn't laugh at me...although, I'm not sure if it was because he was a statue or because I couldn't see through the mask. 😎

I left Pierre, Kari, & Sage and headed to Miles City in Montana next morning after another walk by the river. Along the way to Montana, I killed 2-3 hundred thousand grasshoppers with my radiator grill. (No, I didn’t count them, but I’m sure that’s an accurate number...remember, I’m a bug guy.) The little varmints must’ve been just sitting on the highway road surface thumbing for a ride. I didn’t really notice the carnage until I got to my motel and after checking in, I noticed a swarm of yellow jackets around the front of the car. I had apparently brought them an enormous (and tenderized) buffet of grasshoppers. Looks like the design of the Prius is perfect for funneling grasshoppers into the radiation. The picture really doesn't do the grasshopper slaughter volume justice... but keeping yellow jackets occupied & away from my dinner was a good thing and well, each to their own - Bon Appetite.

I stopped in Sturgis for a brief walk and to look for any interesting beers...found a South Dakota beer named Pile O’ Dirt Porter by Crow Peak brewing...and took a six pack back to the car with me on my last road segment before Helena and my stay in the Montana Capital city.

I had forgotten how lonely it can be off the major highways in South Dakota and Eastern Montana. At times it seemed like the prairie was truly endless and roads stretched far, far away to the horizon and the edge of the flat earth. πŸ˜‰

I walked to the Capitol building after I arrived in Helena and chose a spot to place one of Susan’s disks. It’s a lovely little grassy, knoll just between a large flower bed and the prominent horseman statue (Thomas Francis Meagher, a former governor of the Montana). It was a wonderful location to set a disk marking the start of Susan’s Capitol Pee quest.

Here's a better shot with the red dot indicating where I placed Susan' memorial glass disk.

Nearing the last portion of my journey home, I stopped in Coeur d’Alene to walk around the spectacular shore line of Pend d’Oreille Lake. It’s one of my favorite walks in this part of the country. Not a lot of social distancing and very few masks...but then I’m not sure if any visitors here are really concerned about COVID-19 when there’s a sunny day, lush park, beach sands, and a pristine lake at hand.

Back on the road. Stayed overnight just outside of Spokane and then after a short walk in the morning I headed back to Oregon.

It was terrific starting the road down the Columbia River Gorge just after seeing the Welcome to Oregon sign. Although a hot day, seeing that large, familiar river at my side kept me feeling pretty cool. I did get a couple showers coming through the western end of the gorge and actually enjoyed the crisp smell of the light showers that I passed through. Traffic was minimal and it was an easy drive for me.

My last night in a motel was spent just outside of Portland. I had a few shopping items on my list for one of the shopping malls just south of the city, so a stop here made things pretty convenient and a relatively short drive to Sable Springs and the Dragonfly Den.

Got home in the afternoon of July 8th and answered a call from my neighbor Diane. She’d fixed a coffee-rubbed lamb roast with mint peas for her dinner and wanted to know if I’d like to come up for dinner...no brainer! It was a great dinner to end a wonderful trip and to top it all off, there were two last blooms on the Susan Forever lily.

Everyone knows I keep way too many stats and I’m sure are extremely excited to see the final trip numbers, your wait is over...here they are:

Prius: 4,684 miles, 49.1 mpg, 13 States, and average speed for the entire trip = 58 mph (Oh yes, and 1 radiator full of grasshopper carcasses).

Personal: 192 miles walking, 22 days away from home, 3 State Capitols, and 2 tired butt cheeks (Oh yes, and 1 half-gallon container of ice for my cooler still in Mark & Lee Ann’s freezer in Burlington, Wisconsin...well actually, I suspect it has left the premises by now.)

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