Friday, August 22, 2008

Greeting from Hot Springs, South Dakota

There are some activities Sweet Baboo engages in ONLY in hotels.

First, as Baboo is descended from the wooly mammoth people, he first marches over to the AC and cranks it, full blast, so that I spend the rest of my time in the hotel shivering under blankets or taking hot baths. Doesn't matter where we are or the actual ambient temperature.

The other thing he does is get up early, and quietly get mostly ready (fine). He does this without waking me, and then as I begin to wake up he starts saying, over and over again, patiently and evenly, "so, are you ready yet?" He then commences to all sorts of gestures and sighs to indicate that he is being extremely patient: He lays on the bed, stares at the ceiling, walks around flapping his arms, and continues to ask, very nicely I might add: "are you ready yet?"
This is exclusively hotel behavior; it does not appear at home. Ever.

But if that's the worst that there is then I'll take it, so just put your paper and pencil away because he's still "taken".


I like to think that I 'grew up' in South Dakota because it was here that my frontal lobes finally reached that crucial stage of development such that I one day sat up, looked around the small rent house from which I was about to be evicted, and thought: I have to change my life. And I did.

Only in the tiny town of Volin, SD, population 200, could I have done it the way that I did it: buying a $2,500 house, and $60 car, and going to a small midwestern university while supporting three kids.

It was a peaceful life, where I was able to learn to become self-sufficient in the absence of a convenient urban center. It had all the important things you need in life: available food, safety, and shelter, with none of the things I didn't need at the time: crime, complications, shady people. My kids went to school in an old sandstone schoolhouse where they actually rang a big old bell to signal school starting. In the 90s, when they were installing metal detectors in schools in the US, my kids had to show their trays to the principal, who knew every single child by name, only to be told, You can eat a few more of those peas, Derek...Jon, you're finished. Go ahead and scrape your tray. After eating their bread, freshly made that morning, and the rest of their meal, they then had to put their silverware, (not plasticware) in a tub of soapy water, and scrape off their plates.

But, I left Sound Dakota in 1999 because there were no jobs for me. That's actually the only reason I left. There were, and still are, a lot of things to like about SD; here's a short list:

1) Pink Roads. They use a chip-seal method of maintaining roads here, and the "chips" that they use are made from ground-up red quartzite. The result: pink roads. Not road-bike-friendly, but cute.

2) People are hard-working, but laid-back about it. This is hard to explain, but mostly, it's a mind-my-own-business and do my work sort of thing.

3) Lack of pretentiousness. Nobody cares what kind of car you drive, what kind of jeans you wear, or how edumacated you are. Of course, in some venues, the right tractor says a lot.

4) Safety. You can, literally in almost the entire state, leave your car running while you go into the store, gas station, coffee shop, whatever, and your children can wonder free.

5) Stuff grows like crazy here.
Especially large, colorful flowering things, and things that smell crazy good, and stuff to eat.

6) Large critters.
It's kind of cool to be doing an early morning run through just a regular neighborhood and come upon deer, hanging out in someone's front yard. They didn't even seem upset or concerned, though they kept their eyes on me.

I like the town we're in right now, Hot Springs. I have noted the presense of not one single teenager here, which might explain the lack of vandalism and litter. Refreshing. There is also a small VA here. Interesting. The people, of course, are super nice.

We ate this morning at the Flat Iron Grill, and I had mixed feelings about it: I loved the atmosphere, and the food, what there was of it, was good. However, my feeling is that if you want to serve small, expensive portions of food in a semi-formal garden in a historic inn, along with an expensive latte, then you should put it on a real plate, not a not a throw-away plate, and the same with my coffee. Second, you can be generous with cheapter ingredients. Baboo, for instance, ordered oatmeal as part of his breakfast, and got about 3/4 cup of it in a large soup bowl. I mean, c'mon, oats are not expensive; fill the darn bowl. Other than that, it was pretty good, just kind of expensive for the amount you got.

Tomorrow I won't be posting much, because I'll be crewing for Baboo. His 100 mile run starts at 6 am, and I'll be meeting him about every 4-6 miles at aid stations through the day and night.



  1. pink roads = SWEET!

    large critters are not all they are cracked up to be.... guy up this way (spandex king) hit a deer on his tri bike and nroke it in a bazillion pieces.... the bike not the deer.

  2. Thank you for your kind words about South Dakota! I feel fortunate to have lived here all my life - just a few miles from the big city of Volin.

  3. The first thing I do when walking into a hotel room is blast the AC too! Hah.

    Glad I'm not the only one.


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