I’m not accustomed to paying nearly three figures for a room whose primary amenity is a list above the toilet warning me of the amounts I will be charged should I remove various items from the bathroom – at least not in South Dakota — but you get away with a lot when you’re the only hotel for an hour on either side of an empty highway. My partner, who has always had a problem with authority, spent the morning looking around the room for something to steal that wasn’t on the list. I suggested the list itself.
There’s always a Chevy Chase kind of quality to the driving parts of these long, nature-seeking road trips. Yesterday we passed the Spam Museum in Minnesota, and I deliberated for long minutes about whether I would turn the car around to investigate. Travis was dozing, though, and I knew if he woke up in the parking lot of the Spam Museum that he would expect an explanation with more force than “I wanted to say I’d been to the Spam Museum.” Still, it’s the Spam Museum. In the end I calculated that any time I spent there would come off my time with the prairie dogs, and I kept the car pointed west. I made the same mental calculations when I saw the first billboards for the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.
Early in the evening, we stopped at the rest area where the highway crosses the Missouri River. It’s one of the few achingly beautiful rest stops in the country, a destination in itself. As we drove around the approach, I noticed a “No Hunting” sign. I was entering the part of the country where a prohibition against hunting at a busy highway rest stop is not self-evident. I’m back out west.