Westward Ho 1985

The trip out was an odyssey of remembering and experiencing. We crossed by the same route that Steve and I took on the bike six years ago. I didn’t do it out of nostalgia. It is the best route across that section of country that I know. The Badlands, the Black Hills, Yellowstone. Chris had never been through there, so it was great to top a rise and point out the next mountain range – each one getting bigger, taller, wilder, with more promise of a vast remoteness. Mountain Magic. Home of storms. Places where the wild things live. Visible but beyond reach. The Black Hills – long sacred and over-civilized. The Bighorns. And then the Absaroka Range of the Rockies.

We came down through South Dakota. Fields of sunflowers. Brown hills of the Missouri. Pierre and the Grassland Highway down to I-90. I put the car on cruise control at 55 - slow but safe. No danger from local gendarmes. Lots of construction. The construction people would funnel you down into a one-land passage with movable concrete barricades, and I would make a game of leaving the car on cruise and maneuvering it into the narrow shaft and out again. They were always on a downhill slope.

The Badlands were cold and windy. Chris scrambled up a couple of slopes with his camera and tripod, but the wind and the chill were enough to drive us back to the heated car. We stopped at the info center and pigged out on books. Not an Indian in sight. This was the land of vision quests. I wonder if the weather affects the vision or the vision the weather. There are no visions for us today.