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day 6: did that badlands touch you?
Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004 | link

Right this very second it's 9:30 at night and I am sitting at a picnic table in front of our cute Cedar Lodge cabin in the Badlands, drinking wine, with a hot "anything's possible" wind blowing over me in my teeshirt, skirt, and flipflops. Off to the right an amazing and completely silent lightning storm is warring up a herd of clouds. To the left the plumpest, brightest, fullest moon hangs in a bed of clouds that I swear looks like a bolt of velveteen, with the clouds' dark middles and silver linings coming together in a pattern of rippling, shining fabric. It's like a 1970s dreamscape come to life.

And I have baked potato and apple pie in my stomach!

To think, today started out with a sad little Evany-shaped cloud riding over my head, which followed me from the Metro, Cody's excellent latteland, through breakfast at the surreal indoor pool and resteraunt patio full of live trees and plants and eerie indirect light.

Then we drove through Fort Robinson, a tidy little museum stop and the site of unarmed Crazy Horse's stabbing (while he was under the custody of the US Army) AND where the last of the Cheyenne were killed, and talk turned to wondering if there is any populated place left where there isn't some horrible legacy of monstrous things people have done to each other. China, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe? Canada? They've all been the sites of complete bloody shitstorms. And then I started wondering if there is some sort of matrix of evil, like if it is possible to strike an ideal balance of population (completely homogenized or perfectly diversified?) to ground area to prosperity (gold or farmable earth or subsistance knowledge) that makes for a happy, balanced society without mass massacres. Maybe it's only possible with teensy groups of people. Like Lost Springs, WY, with its population of 4, what if there's enough, whatever ... s'mores to go around that there's no lack big enough to rile people to the stabbing point? But if the population soars to 5, someone gets a mailorder bride or catches pregnant, then that's enough to fuck everything up? Anyway, as Jill pointed out, people have been pondering utopia long and deep, and it looks like it might just be a little difficult to acheive.

My crabby, little massacre-contemplating cloud didn't even start to dissipate until Nebraska, where suddenly all the cows and horses turned black and we got some mileage out of musing over the idea of goth farmers. And all the "Pass wirh Care" signs make me happy. "Care" not "caution," as in, please use the utmost gentleness as you maneuver your car past those vehicles moving more slowly than you not because they're retards, and not because they're deliberately trying to chaff your chi, but because they are smelling the roses slightly less rapidly than the rest of us.

My skies were completely friendly, though, by the time we got to Mount Rushmore, the "Shrine of Democracy" (doesn't that kind of imply democracy is dead?), where Jill and I greatly entertained ourselves buying postcards and other crippycrap (I got a Mt. Rushmore charm necklace and a slender-but-autographed book called "Mount Rushmore Q & A" by Don "Nick" Clifford, who actually worked on Mount Rushmore in the late 30s and who is the now the cutest elderly gentleman, and no one was coming up to his table which was just killing me, so I went over and bought his book and thanked him for all his hard work, and he shook my hand and was terribly nice and sweet and heart-string-plucky).

Plain rocks of South Dakota: way neater than Rushmore.

We also had a fine time with our gently snide observations and marvelations about the craziness of the place (Jefferson looks like Virginia Woolf; the soft-serve cones were so disgustingly large, I looked at mine and said, "ain't THAT America," and the russian teenager behind the counter, in the truly humbling stars-and-stripes uniform, snorked; etc.).

All of America was there, its chubby kids with thick glasses, its large, red-faced women with thinning hair and bicycle shorts, its one blind man in a wheelchair (with handsome guidedog). Even "Clitus" was there, with the Halloween rotting tobacco teeth, the baseball hat, the "yukyuk" accent, the extra-long jeans scrunched over cowboy boots like legwarmers. The only thing missing was the droll and disenfranchised teens with the tattoos and the streaky hair. And as we were driving away, I realized that's what we were! The snide "outsiders," just another facet of the American portrait.

(I'm not sure what kind of crowds the Crazy Horse monument-in-progress draws because it costs a whole $18 to see up close, so we stuck to peering at it from the road. What they have so far, the head and maybe a little arm, looks ... good?)

The black Evany cloud returned, briefly, in Rapid City, where I had hoped my Sidekick would finally get reception and I could upload the last three entries. But even though Jill's Sidekick neighed and neighed (Jill's email chime is a horse's whinny), mine never even connected to the network. Will you ever see these words I've so painstakingly thumbed in to my mini keyboard? Or will they be lost if I, say, drop or lose (no, no!) my little minimotor? My sidekick with its un-backed-up writings and musings, and my digital camera with its 100+ memory-ladden photographs, these little silver boxes are becoming more and more precious the further I go on this trip. The vulnerability of technology! Anyway. Irritating, boring. And just what little black clouds love to feed upon!

But tonight life is an embarassment of riches (and I'm not even going to tell you about the sunset we witnessed just a few hours ago that ate up the entire sky and was unlike anything I've ever seen before.)

(PS: My diary has officially moved over to my official evany.com website. Let's meet up over there!)

(PS: My diary has officially moved over to my official evany.com website. Let's meet up over there!)

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