Sunday, 7 June 2009

Freedom Road: South Dakota, Turkey & Ham

Day Nine - South Dakota & Minnesota

We got up at the Econolodge and prepared for the mammoth South Dakota drive. We took the Iron Mountain road towards Custer State Park to get a view of Mount Rushmore from afar.

Custer State Park was totally awesome. It had a wildlife loop road which we drove down and saw all kinds of wildlife. And by all kinds of wildlife, I mean deer.

Blatantly not deer.

We saw some donkeys. Which for some reason were referred to as burros. They were very tame and we made the schoolboy error of leaving the window down. The donkeys violated Chad in the worst possible ways. And chewed the driver's side seatbelt.

Poor Chad.

There was a massive herd of buffalo. We got out of the car to take pictures and some guy was right up against the fence goading the buffalo. He then proceeded to tell everyone [and they were stood at least 30 feet behind him] to not got too close to the buffalo because they were dangerous. What a joke.

Joke McJoke

Simples. Oh, wait. That's a meerkat.

We saw some pretty cute little prairie dogs near their hidey holes. We had to stand by the side of the road for about 5 minutes before either of us realised what other people had stopped to see. I didn't have my glasses on. That's my excuse. The park also had the biggest spider webs I have ever seen. Some were the size of a small child. It was ridic.

Chad made it through to Badlands. Who'da thought?

We went from there to Badlands National Park and drove the scenic road. The landscape was strange - it looked like Mordor or some planet in Star Wars. There were lots of canyons, rock stacks, sedimentary rocks, coloured rocks etc. It was strange that this type of scenery occurred amidst the total nothingness of Dakota. And when I say nothingness, I mean nothingness. This was nowhere. And we were in the arse end of it.

If the moon weren't made of cheese, this is what I think it would look like.

By this point, it had become apparent that our attempt to get to Chicago as soon as possible by doing a 13 hour drive and arriving at 3:50am with nowhere to stay, was not going to happen. It had taken us most of the day to get to Badlands because a lot of the roads around Iron Mountain were 20mph.

Drive in a straight line for 600 miles. Welcome to South Dakota.

Driving along my favourite American road, the I-90 East, we passed a bajillion signs for Wall Drug. I have since read in a book that the signs are so numerous that 'every person who drives past them stops to see what the fuss is about'. Well not every person. These two didn't. And you know what? I sleep pretty soundly at night despite not having found out exactly what the fuck Wall Drug is.

Rush hour in SD.

The drive across South Dakota was also interesting from a moral point of view. Here there was an absolute abundance of roadside signs proclaiming that 'Abortion is murder', 'Killing babies is evil', 'Women who have abortions are murdering, she-devil, lesbian Communist non-gun owners'. Or words to that effect.

Abortion: The Choice That Kills

We were just driving. We weren't en route to get an abortion. And even if we were, how does that concern whoever has made these signs? What does abortion have to do with the fact that I am driving on the I-90? As far as I am concerned, the two things are mutually exclusive.

And as if a poorly painted roadside sign would seriously change anyone's moral standpoint on such an issue. If it does then they are depriving the rest of us of oxygen.

I was pro choice, but then I saw a sign in South Dakota saying that abortion is responsible for all illegal immigration, paedophilia, the economy ending up on its arse and the music of Elton John. Now I am firmly against abortion.

By now, I think my driving had improved very slightly. Not a lot - but I had definitely improved my percentage of time spent driving on the hard shoulder. I had probably got it down to a 70/30 split. 30% of my time being on the actual road. The one thing South Dakota has going for it, is the 80mph speed limit on the highway. Clearly, people can't wait to get out of SD.

At one point I was driving in the fast lane, and doing probably at least 86mph, when some stupid bint in a wreck of a vehicle started tailgating Chad. I was not impressed. So I did what any driver with 3 days worth of driving experience would do and slammed on the brakes. And then pulled into the slow lane after I had almost caused a pile up and glared at her as she drove past. And I mean glared. Bitch.

My SD driving stint ended in Sioux City. Here we bought some gasolina. The prices were ridiculous - as they had been everywhere. What Americans pay for a gallon of fuel, we pay for a litre. And there are 4.5 litres in a gallon. Yet all we heard from people was how expensive petrol was. People of America, you don't know you're born! Gas is cheap. Believe me.

The gas station was one of those super duper all eating, all drinking, all dancing ones. A guy in the queue in front of us looked like he lived down a coal mine. I have never seen such a grubby looking human being. The gas station had a Subway inside it. Now, this was considered health food in the context of our regular road trip diet. Mainly because you got lettuce on your sub.

The person who worked at the Subway looked, erm, fairly remedial, shall we say. She took my order at the second attempt. Though how cheese can be said so it is not understood, I don't know. Jo then wanted a turkey and ham sub. She said: 'Turkey and ham, please'. The woman said 'Whaaaaat?' Jo then said 'Turkey. And. Ham.' The woman said 'Whaaaaat?' Jo said 't.u.r.k.e.y.a.n.d.h.a.m'.

The woman left the counter and got another colleague from the back who immediately understood the words turkey and ham. I was nearly in tears of laughter by this point and was just waiting for Jo to break out the universal chicken and pig mimes to get the order across. We then sat in the car in the parking lot in hysterical laughter. Though Jo was quite traumatised.

Two other people in the gas station complimented our accents so I think it was just the Subway woman who hated it. And as I was described as 'Northern posh' the other day [you know who you are - stop stalking me!], my accent isn't even that difficult to understand. Imagine if we had been Geordies, Scots or, God forbid, Welsh. The woman's head may well have imploded.

As we drove out of Sioux City, we put the Flight Of The Conchords CD on. There is a track on the album called 'Think About It'. It is my favourite song on the album. Now bear in mind that earlier in the day when I had been driving, Jo had asked me if I had slowed down for 'that police car'. My genuine response was: 'What police car?' The song starts with a siren.

You have never seen such panic in a Volvo. Both of us were frantically looking in the rear view mirror, my head was swivelling around all over the place, I was trying to think back to my legal studies about what proper police procedure was, I was thinking about where the nearest embassy was etc etc. And then we realised it was on the CD. How we laughed. Once the hyperventilating was over and the cardiac arrest had stopped.

We crossed the border into Minnesota and were immediately informed that 'Jesus is Lord'. As you may be aware, my religious knowledge hovers somewhere between none and zilch. This may be a Biblical phrase or words to that effect, or it could just be a hideously worded sign. You decide.

We finally ended up in Winona, Minnesota at midnight in the pouring rain, asking the young child manning the Holiday Inn reception desk if Chicago was under water due to Hurricane Whatever. After South Dakota, we were all kinds of desperate to reach Chicago and civilisation.


Phil & Paula said...

Firstly, it's not stalking if you tell the person that you're doing it (well not in my book anyway), secondly- it's not my fault this is the most entertained I've been since Top Gear did their American roadtrip. Must be something to do with insulting Yanks.
Thirdly, would it kill you to bring me a sandwich when I'm sat outside your house for hour after hour?

Jessclub7 said...

I don't know if I can throw a sandwich 250 yards Phil ...