Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Don't Any Humans Live in Wyoming Anymore?" (Wyoming/Montana, Day 1)

This morning, as per Dad's necessity for arising at ungodly hours, we got up at 6:00 in the morning again. Ugh. I don't like my fellow human beings until at least 8:00! I feel downright convivial towards them after 9:30! No such luck with Dad. If he doesn't have me bleary-eyed and resembling a mottled corpse, he just isn't getting the most out of his vacation. Unfortunately, the lack of sufficient sleep meant that I started out the day with a near-migraine (a headache that caused me tremendous pain, but did not compromise my will to live).

We breakfasted one last time at Marlin's Roadhouse Grill (it warranted a second visit - it's just off I-90 in Rapid City, for anyone who's feeling interested), where I had a delectable western omelet that almost made me forgive Dad for rousting me out of a sound sleep, and thus inflicting a horrid headache on me. Following another gut-splittingly huge meal, we were off to Montana.

Getting to Billings from Rapid City requires a few hours of travel through Wyoming. Now, this initially made me happy, since I have a lifelong goal of seeing all fifty states. After some initial mental exclamations over the vast space and beauty of Wyoming (a headache like that one means that I make as little sound as possible), I eventually grew a bit bored. It was justifiable, after passing about one hundred miles of no trees or humans in sight. Wait, I take that back. I did see one tree - I photographed it out of sheer joy. It was not until some snow-covered mountains appeared in back of the landscape that Wyoming began to get interesting again.

We ate lunch at a rather dingy Subway, where the kid waiting on me (who couldn't be more than 16), flirted his little heart out with me. Now this really puzzles me: when I was 16, no 16-year-old boy on earth would have picked me over an earthworm. Now that I'm 25, I seem to be an absolute magnet for teenage boys and old men. This is further evidence that men are very strange creatures which I have no hope of ever understanding.

We got into Montana with little hassle, and continued on the arduous journey to Billings, which is in the official middle of nowhere. You pass hundreds of miles of absolutely no people and only a few dozen cows (similar to what I saw of Wyoming) and then BAM! Into the the city of Billings, which is crawling with people (much like any other city).

Since we were exhausted, we were delighted to find our hotel - AFTER the lengthy confusion resulting from the hotel listing an address that does not exist, as well as one which does exist, but which is one clearly designed to exasperate travelers (it's on south 25th street west, but Billings has not only a south 25th street west, but also a south 25th street, a west 25th street, and a 25th street west, all located in different areas). Our poor TomTom was probably considering either mutiny, or getting revenge on us by directing us to the middle of the Atlantic.

Tomorrow, we're off to Yellowstone at last! Fun fact - Did you know that Hollywood legend Gary Cooper originally worked as a Yellowstone guide, as well as an amateur cartoonist?

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"