Taking a cross-country journey with two dogs is an educational experience not to be missed.
What I Learned on my Vacation in the Wild, Wild West
By Terry L. White
I just returned from a remarkable journey. I’m not sure how it all happened, but one moment I was talking to an Indian chief who said I must go to his next powwow, and the next I was on my way to South Dakota, where I saw the badlands, Deadwood, George Custer’s park and peacefully grazing American bison – all thanks to the kindness of a friend who was headed in my direction.
I saw hundreds of Indians proudly dance at the Lakota powwow, and the abysmal cultural manifestations of hate and genetic sabotage on the Pine Ridge reservation. I saw bronze presidents on Rapid City street corners and stone presidents carved from living rock in the Black Hills. I saw abandoned mines and a children’s center built in memory of a dead Dakota princess. I saw gold-washed hills and the endless azure skies above golden harvests ready to feed the masses. I heard B-1 bombers and turkey gobbles on my brother’s ranch where the couple next door raised wolves as a cash crop and the wind played weird symphonies to the amber harvest moon.
I saw so much – and learned even more! For instance:
• I learned not to carry so much luggage. It doesn’t matter what you wear, who you are is the real question.
• I learned not to anticipate any more than necessary. If you make up an ending – you are liable to get it.
• I learned that no place is perfect. I hate extremes of heat and cold, so Rapid City treated me to a day with a -15 windchill following a day in the humid 90s.
• I learned that friendly people make friends. The best conversations I had on my journey were with total strangers.
• I learned that God is the master artist and saw awesome manifestations of nature in many aspects.
• I learned that whatever you are looking for is in the bottom of the last bag in the back of the car under all the other stuff you couldn’t leave home.
• I learned it is ok to ask to ask for a pit stop – or if you see a Starbuck’s sign.
• I learned motel mirrors are brutally frank.
• I learned that I am not smart enough to gamble.
• I learned that no matter how great the vacation, one morning you wake up and the thing you want to see most is home.
• I learned that food described as “good” most often arrives in giant servings, but rarely tastes good at all and that all you can eat does not mean all you can eat.
• I learned a good book is a good companion.
• I learned that home is where you hang your heart.
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