<< USA the Ride: Part II (Previous Post)
Leaving Missoula meant entering again the ungraspable vastness of the Great Plains, and prairies, of the central part of the continent. Those very winds which forced me to lean, as though making a giant turn, for 250 miles stretches of Canada, returned as I traversed eastern Montana, Wyoming and the Badlands of South Dakota.
I stuck to HWY 12 out of Missoula, made a quick connection onto 212 which brought me into Rapid City. The mind numbing ride was relieved by a visit to Mount Rushmore, which is worth every mile you drive to get there. It’s hard to explain the sensation of gazing upon a mountainside carved by human hands. Looking at a Michelangelo or Donatello is one thing – they are statues you can behold and contemplate within a graspable parameter of confined space. But an entire mountain is something different altogether. And that it displays the visages of our nation’s greatest presidents – true men of honor, true statesmen – is enough for a grown, bearded, periodically bathed, man to choke up and need to walk away from his friends for a moment.
Mount Rushmore and the adjacent Badlands were the end of the first leg of my journey. For the rest of the ride to Minneapolis I decided to take I-90 so as to avoid the flooding up north, and to more quickly pass the monotonous landscape.
The bike, however, was not done with me. Just 100 miles from my mother’s house, my headlight blew out. As sure as Minnesotan’s love fishing, I was pulled over by a state trooper, who, along with the ticket, gave me directions to the nearest Wal-Mart. It was already dark and the store about to close, but as I was lucky enough to have a fellow rider stop to help me on the side of the highway, so I was to make it before closing time. That very same kind soul helped me install the light, and gave me good company for the ride to the Twin Cities.
I arrived in Eagan, MN late on the night of the 10th of October – 2 months and 9500 miles after leaving New York, and 2 days before my 29th birthday. I gave my mother a hug, ate a bowl of soup, and passed on my old bed, in my old room, and slept a long, long while – knowing this was only the beginning.