M. Giant's
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Sunday, June 26, 2011  

The Finger

Prepping for these long-range camping road trips is always stressful under the best of circumstances, but this one was even more so. In addition to the trip itself I was also supposed to be prepping for this conference I'm going to as part of the trip. Leaving aside figuring out what I'm going to say, this is the first time I've ever had to pack both camping clothes and business clothes. And it's not a question of if we forgot something, but what we forgot and how screwed we're going to be as a result. It's an ever-growing list.

We were still in Minnesota when I realized I had completely forgotten to do something vital. The good news is that it was something I could take care of on our next pit stop. If only I didn't forget again. Our pit stops can be a bit hectic, between me and Trash and M. Edium and all the shit that falls out of the back seat when we open M. Edium's door.

Just across the South Dakota state line, we hit a rest stop and I realized I wasn't going to be able to do it after all. The pen that I keep in my pocket at almost all times wasn't there. But I was in luck, because there was a sign in the restroom inviting visitors to sign the guest book, which meant there was a pen already there. As soon as M. Edium and I were back out in the lobby, I told him to wait while I got to work doing what I needed to do. It would only take a second.

"Can I help you?" asked the attendant behind the counter who I hadn't noticed in my urgency to complete my task. I realized that what I was doing might look a little odd, so I said, "Just signing the guest book," and signed it before making a quick escape.

M. Edium and I caught up with Trash out in the picnic area, which is when I realized my own pen was in my pocket after all. I did the necessary touch-ups while they were otherwise occupied and soon we were all back on our way.

The Missouri River is pretty much the only major geographical landmark between there and the Badlands, so we always look forward to the crossing. We didn't cross it the first day, however. For the first time, we were going to spend the night at it. This proved to be more literally true than we thought. We had reserved a camping cabin at the Snake Creek Recreation Area outside Platte, SD, and were hoping for a view of the river. When we got there, we discovered that due to all the recent flooding, the river was closer to our cabin than my old cubicle was to the office bathroom. I wanted to take M. Edium to the swimming beach, but he can't dive that deep. Instead he swam around the trees at a flooded campsite where the roadway disappeared under the quiet waters of a small inlet that, from what I understand, isn't normally there. Fortunately nobody was camping there or they might have objected to our invasion of their space.

The next morning we got back on the road. From our first sighting of the Missouri to our crossing it had been sixteen hours. Now, west of the Missouri, Interstate 90 begins to bristle with billboards. Not just for Wall Drug, either. There's the Reptile Gardens, the Auto Museum, the 1880 Town (complete with Dances with Wolves props), and the Rushmore Borglum museum, to name a few. This last tourist trap is all about the sculptor who "carved the mountain," and all the billboards are illustrated with the same drawing of Gutzon Borglum, gazing out ruggedly from under a cowboy hat and from behind his repressed black mustache, leaning back with his chin against his chest. Trash and I have been making fun of those billboards for almost twenty years, since the first time we drove out west in 1992. Every time we'd see one, we'd tuck our chins against our chests, and look at each other with our fingers laid across our upper lips to simulate the famous mustache.

I was expecting to start seeing these as soon as we were in South Dakota, but they were making a late appearance on this trip, and we didn't see any until the second day of our trip. Finally, some smaller ones started popping up. I let a few of these go by without comment. But after a while, we spotted a full-sized one and I leaned back, tucked my chin down, and held up my finger…with the ink mustache I'd drawn on it the day before, more than a hundred miles ago.

Trash hates to admit defeat, but she had to this time. I totally win at Rushmore Borglum.

posted by M. Giant 6:48 PM 1 comments



(Just need to also mention that my capcha word for this comment is "repoo")


By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 1, 2011 at 6:31 AM  

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