Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rapid City, South Dakota

After making a series of wrong turns, I happened upon a small park in Rapid City that housed a small piece of the Berlin Wall. Having spent three semesters in Berlin as a college student, this naturally caught my eye. Turns out Potsdam is the sister city of Sioux Falls. Doesn't quite explain the small, outdoor museum here in Rapid City, but was interesting nonetheless. Berlin, incidentally, is sister cities with Los Angeles.

Now you're that much more prepared should you ever try out for Jeopardy.

I was on my way to Toby's place, some three hundred miles out of town it seemed, in the black hills on a ten acre property in the forest. It wasn't easy to find, and it didn't help that Toby sent me east when I should have been going west. There are moments in life I'm not proud of, and driving all around South Dakota last night like the seriously troubled man I am, cursing the sky and the heavens, looking for damn Rolling Hills Road, is not one of them. When I found it, it looked like this:

Only much darker.

It was dark by the time I got there. That's how long it took me to find the place.

Toby is taking some time off from L.A. to live at home with his parents, and turns out all three of them are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Because everyone I meet on this trip ends up being the nicest I've ever met.

As Toby explains it, there's just a natural connection between travelers. People who travel know what it's like to be on the road, arriving in a new, unfamiliar place tired, hungry and in desperate need of a shower. Because of that, hosting becomes completely natural. You've been there and can empathize, and want to lighten the weary traveler's mind a little in whatever way you can.

Toby's mother had been at a town meeting last night in which she explained to a few people that a stranger was coming to her house for the night.

"Well, what if he kills you?"

"I guess we'll find out in the morning, won't we?"

"But what if he robs you?"

"Then he probably needed it more than me."

I liked her attitude.

A forest fire had come dangerously close to their property in recent days, and many possessions still lay bagged on the floor, ready for evacuation. Over the six pack of beer I'd brought them, they told me about the whole ordeal, the heroics of the local fire company and the act of God that brought the last minute rain to save their house. We then shared stories of our travels, from roadtrips in a Nash Rambler in the 70's to riding through Europe in a friend's company car, to my own tales of couchsurfing through America.


48statebus said...

oh the irony, rolling hills road as flat as can be...haha

mmartin4444 said...

Hi Scott,
I found your blog from the comment you made on the NY Times site about the Frugal Traveler story. I know this is totally random but do you have a sister that lives in Minneapolis?

Kirsten said...

His sister would be me, Kirsten. Are you Michael Martin from the Humphrey?

mmartin4444 said...

Hey Kirsten, yeah it is Michael Martin from the Humphrey. I just thought it was random to run into someone with your last name by reading the comments on the Frugal Traveler story. Anyway, Scott I really enjoy reading about your travels. You are doing something that I have wanted to do for a long time.

Kirsten said...

What a small world! These are the moments I appreciate having a last name that stands out. I am jealous of Scott's trip too and have enjoyed living vicariously through him. I'm excited that he's finally arriving (today!) in Minnesota.