Road Trip Day Seven: Go West, Young Man (and Keep Going and Going and Going)
Yesterday, we crossed the Missouri River and our trip into the West truly began:
1) Nebraska is a browner, drier, bigger version of Iowa-- bigger farms, bigger spaces, and smaller towns . . . and the gas stations serve "fried gizzards";
2) the Ashfall Fossil Beds is something to see before you die . . . beardogs, barrel bodied rhinos, three toes horses, giant turtles, a barrel bodied rhino embryo in utero, horned rodents, moon rats, saber-toothed deer, etc. etc. . . all frozen in place by the ash of a giant volcano that erupted 12 million years ago: this is the Pompeii of Mammalian Megafauna (I liked it so much there I did the unthinkable . . . I bought a t-shirt);
3) we then drove to Interior, South Dakota-- population 67-- which is literally inside the Badlands and we checked in to The Badlands Budget Host, which my wife described as "the scariest motel I've ever stayed in" and while I admit that it is a bit rustic (Ian found a fishing hook in one of the beds) but the views are spectacular and the A/C worked-- and thank God for it, as we went from a breezy cool day in Nebraska to a broiling lunar moonscape;
4) the Horseshoe Bar looked a bit seedy (everything looked a bit seedy in Interior, but that's because we got such great hotel deals with Hotwire.com in the Midwest-- every place we stayed had an indoor pool in a glassed in atrium overlooking a body of water-- and so the Budget Host's above ground pool didn't have a chance in hell to impress, though my kids didn't care) and so instead we ate an early dinner (screw you, Mountain Time) at the Wagon Wheel Bar and Grill, which was located in "the business district" of Interior-- there was actually a sign-- and The Wagon Wheel was made of colorful corrugated metal; the interior of the place contained a grizzled biker, a grizzled bartender, a grizzled waitress/cook, and a bunch of video poker machines-- and surrounding one of the machines were several generations of a Native American family-- all female-- grandma transfixed by the screen, sipping her third Tecate, grandma's daughter playing on the adjacent machine, while her pre-teen daughter watched the youngest-- a cute little toddler in pink-- as she ate chicken fingers off a napkin on the floor of the bar . . . she was sitting on the floor of the bar, and her napkin was on the floor of the bar . . . the food was edible, but not much more, and that's perfectly fitting for a place called the Badlands.