Monday, February 22, 2010

South Dakota and Squeaky

Today, Sunday, is rain and slush in Indiana.

Great day for Squeaky and South Dakota.

Squeaky is my little portable stair-stepper. When he doesn't get his proper dosage of WD-40 he lets you know. Luckily on Squeaky I have a view out my window to the melting pond below.

I love spending a day on Squeaky keeping the long distance muscles moving and reading vociferously about the Ride Across America .

As of today I've read to mile 1,763  - midway through South Dakota.

To my surprise South Dakota sounds beautiful - especially in the Black Hills in the SW corner of the state - home of Mt. Rushmore.

It's full of wildlife with prairie dogs and bison, mule deer and pronghorn antelopes.

And Al and I are fond of small towns. But here in South Dakota Mike, our guide, writes about stopping at a town and asking the lady at the gas station how many people live here. She says..."let's see, there's  Jim, there's Martha..." and counts up to 9 names. That's even smaller than our home town where we can hand count the traffic lights.

But is South Dakota long enough? They talk about the endless roads of the state - the West River all being downhill to the Missouri which cuts the state in half - geographically and politically. The rest of the state, as you would guess, is called the East River.

I need a long South Dakota because I need time to read all the books across this wind-blown state...

1. A Terrible Glory - a fascinating depiction of General Custer and the events leading up to the Battle of Little Bighorn - many happening in the Black Hills.

2. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - this state is the best time to learn about the Native Americans. South Dakota - named for the Dakota Sioux - has 5 counties completely comprised of Indian reservations. Wounded Knee, slightly south of our bike ride, was the site of the last battle against the United States and the Sioux nation and the site of an uprising again in 1973.

3. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan - a highly acclaimed book about the natural disaster that struck the great plains in the dark years of the depression. The Seattle Post calls it "A flat-out masterpiece" and Walter Cronkite said "This is can't-put-it-down history.

4. Dakota - a Spiritual Geography a beautifully written book to celebrate "the places in between".

5. My Antonia by Willa Cather. Yes, this book is written about Nebraska - but I've read quotes from this book for years and the descriptions of the grasslands are absolutely lyrical.
"Between the earth and the sky I felt erased, blotted out."

6. Grassland by Richard Manning - An eloquent plea for the restoration of the great grasslands of America.

7. Built for Speed - read about the amazing pronghorn antelope, the fastest animals in America

8. Where the Buffalo Roam - a vision for bringing back the great herds that once roamed the great grasslands of this country.

9. Black Elk Speaks - This is an inspirational classic - the best selling book ever by a Native American. It poetically speaks of the oneness of the world and all the creatures thereon.

And you can always read the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

...I'd better get Squeaky some more WD-40.
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