WanderlustBy Sam Lepore
(Click map for full size)
Interior to Aberdeen
Subject: Wanderlust 24 - Aberdeen, South Dakota
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 19:30:58 -0700

        Whew, this day is going to test my wordsmithing abilities ... how much can you say to describe a day that is complete in three words: straight, flat, hot. Well, I'll try.

        My special friend Maddie once suggested that lasting love could be found in a donut shop in Elko. Trouble is, she never said which one. Can't say about love, but I will say that if you are looking for "real people", any donut shop will do. Maddie is right about one aspect of donut shops - they are the congregation point for the natural emotions of America.
        There is a Sunrise Donuts shop on the main street of Kadoka, South Dakota. Kadoka is one of those towns where the main street is a side street off the main road, which passes the town. Kadoka is one of those towns where people just park their pickup in the middle (centerline, if there was one) of main street, get out and go about their business. Some even leave the truck running. No one goes to Kadoka by accident. I went there on purpose - one, to have donuts - duh, two, to listen to the people.
        The couple in the booth behind me chatted with each of the locals as they came in. One visitor with them lamented that when going on an organized tour of Mexico or Europe, the tour bus took the them to "tourist places". They wanted to go to see the 'real' people, but they wanted to know where to go and not have to find the 'real' places on their own. I had this image of a tour bus pulling up in front of the Sunrise Donuts in Kadoka and 50 tourists from some foreign country, like Los Angeles, settling in to listen to these real people ... as I was. Look folks, you can't have packaged adventure (that is called Disneyland rides), you can't have rehearsed spontaneity (that is called television) in 'real' life. You have to take the chance of going down that side road to see what is in town, like I did.
        " ... people don't take trips - trips take people."
        - John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer

        When they eventually got around to asking me where I was from, etc., I just said that I had come all the way to Kadoka just to see 'real' people. I thanked them and left.

        Straight, flat, hot. Hot, about 95F. Cloudless, treeless, curveless. I was thinking about the new Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle that can do 188 mph and wondering if I was too quick to discredit the bullet train back in Idaho. But no, the Great Plains are something everyone should see once. Once. This is my someteenth transversal. Unfortunately, the Great Plains were great pains this day. The wind was a constant 40 or more mph from the south. Riding sideways when the wind skews the bike is tiring after several hours. All day long I dealt with those well known "plains fighters" ... Major Buffeting and General Bluster.
        The wind kept up *all* day, even into the farm land around Aberdeen. Passing through one small town with an airport, for the first time ever I saw a 'full sock' on the wind vane. The orange cone was standing straight out. About a mile later I passed a farmhouse with laundry on the line. Well, some was still on the line. And the rest (including a few socks) were in a line across the yard, like a bread crumb trail.

        Straight, flat, hot. Flat but long distances between anything. What if you have a problem. Many people today carry cell phones, but out here coverage doesn't quite match the television advertisements. Some long distance riders have digital/analog combos that seek a particular network, but I don't know of any that offer true nationwide coverage. Maybe if those satellite launches hadn't blown up a few billion dollars worth of shiny reflectors, we'd be able to afford Iridium phones today. My point is you must think about your 'link' if you are going to go this far off grid. I do.
        Speaking of phones, you should see the looks I get from some motel owners in the American outback when I ask if I can use the office line to send email if the room doesn't have a phone. Everyone! has heard of the Internet now. It is amazing how much awareness there is (even if there is little understanding).

        Straight, flat, hot. Straight. I am using a Garmin GPS III Plus on this trip. Handheld GPS devices were originally based on seaborne navigation ... where there are few curves or hills, so most, as does the III Plus, still use straight line distances between waypoints. (As an aside, did you know there is really actually is a "hill" in the ocean east of Barbados?) Anyway, today I noted this is the first time the GPS distance to the next town precisely agreed with the map distance. It was that straight, flat ...
        Speaking of GPS, I use Street Atlas (Version 6) to plot and load routes. Each night I download the actual track from the GPS and save it in a map segment. If you have Street Atlas, and you would like to see my actual track, I can mail you the SA6 file (about 20 kb), which when you open it will invoke Street Atlas and display the route. There are some breaks where my track log wrapped over itself, but what is there is pretty accurate. It might work with SA version 5 if you rename the file to SA5, and it should work with Map'N'Go version 4 if you rename it to MN4, but I don't have them with me so I can't test that.

        Ridgeview is a small town like many others where there is a graveyard, more than just a junkyard, for discarded cars. Ridgeview is unique in my experience. Approaching from the west I saw the long line of vehicles like so many before, parked in the tall grass facing the road. Many years ago, someone parked a dead car beside the house, then another beyond that, then as the years went by ... the first (furthest) car out away from the house was a early 1980's. Then there was a string of '70s, then 60s, then 50s!, then 40s!! ... and the last few were either early 40s or late 30s. Rust across the decades in Ridgeview - a progression of American motivation in decommissioned vehicles. This could be a museum, except it is 'real'.
        The northeast quadrant of South Dakota is farm country, not plains, so it time for another farm question, eh? Like regional differences in names for soft drinks (soda, pop, fizz ...), carry conveyances (bag, sack, poke ...), and sandwich rolls (submarine, grinder, hoagie ...), farms across America have a colloquial method for baling hay. Some are the familiar brick shape, some are double bricks, some are huge (8 or 10 feet) rolls, some are bread loaf shaped piles. NE SD subscribes to the roll and loaf approach. I saw both in the same fields. So I question, what are the obvious advantages to each that someone would do both?

        Evening brought the most enjoyable pleasure of dining and chatting with LD Rider Mark from Aberdeen. He took me on some local (straight, flat) roads to a great roadhouse in the tiny town of Columbia (pop. 120ish). I like a small town with a sense of humor ... sign: Entering Columbia, next 10 exits
        Mark told me wondrous things about Aberdeen. Imagine that this is the place perhaps most distant from every mountain (and ski slope) in America. So where was snow making machinery invented? Yup, you betcha.

Straight, flat, hot. How'd I do describing the day?

FuelPlus 334 miles, 5:16 hours, 64 mph
Interior SD44 SD73 oldSD16 SD63 US212 SD45 SD20 US281 Aberdeen

Sam Lepore, San Francisco
Wanderlust Rider

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