Once I'd gotten away with all that yummy yarn we headed east across South Dakota to Sioux Falls, SD. The Americinn was a bit tucked-away from view and there was an armored bus with "Prisoner Transport--DO NOT APPROACH" painted on the sides and orange cones ringing it in the parking lot right outside our room but it was nice. Our room was big and plush and very clean. I zipped over to the Perkins about 100 yards away for soup for Durwood and a Honey Mustard Crunchy Chicken Salad for me. Have you tried that? I highly recommend it, but then I'm a fool for honey mustard.
The next morning after a real, hot breakfast in the motel we were off to US Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation & Science (EROS) Center about 10 miles out of town. (On the way the odometer turned over, well, blinked over to 170,000 miles--cool, huh?) It being summer and road construction season, there was, of course, a 6 mile detour, one of the ones where you can see your destination but they've ripped out a bridge between you and it. So close... We arrived too late for the 10 o'clock tour so they gave us a little map and said, "don't go through any double doors or else" and looked real mean when they said it, so we were careful not to. At first I thought that the free visit was worth the price. In the lobby there are a few models of Landsat satellites and some big displays with a lot of stuff to read, but the more we read the more interesting it got. Down a hall (take a left turn at the double doors to stay out of trouble) was a row of windows into the room of computer mainframes with blinking lights and geeky looking men with clipboards and broken "touch the screen" type interactive displays. But when we took the next left turn the walls of that hall were covered with maps of the US with all kinds of colors indicating vegetation and elevation and other kinds of science-y stuff. It was getting a lot more interesting. The piece de resistance (for me anyway) were the images along the far wall in the wide center hall furthest from the entry. They looked like modern art but were satellite pictures of places on earth with different features limned in different colors -- heat, cold, vegetation, geology, all kinds of different ways and lights that the satellites use to see the Earth. I tried to take a head-on shot of each one and hope to use the images to make up some notecards. Back up the hall toward the lobby and exit we were reading the displays and admiring a 1inch-to-100 mile scale globe when a staffer carrying a lunch bag stopped to chat and he ended up taking , THROUGH DOUBLE DOORS, to a couple other hallways. (He got permission from the security people first, he didn't smuggle us in although it kind of felt like we were sneaking around.) Anyway, in the first hallway was a satellite composite of some of the stops Lewis and Clark made on their Voyage of Discovery. I thought of DIL1's dad because he's a big L&C buff and was glad to hear that those images and info is all available on the EROS website. (I sent him a link) Next we went around the corner to the Hall of States which has an image of each individual state with surface features highlighted. Our guide, Roger, was very eager to teach us things and thought that his info would make it interesting for kids to learn about the country and environment and climate. It was easy to see how much he loves his job.
We had our last car picnic in the parking lot there and then we struck off for LaCrosse, WI where we spent the night, visited the Mississippi River, and then hit a deer on the way home, but I already told you that sad tale. Some good news--Durwood talked to our insurance agent yesterday and they've approved fixing the van (hallelujah!) so we just have to wait for a call from the dealership to schedule a week to get it fixed. Whew. And they'll pony up thirty bucks a day for a loaner so Durwood doesn't have to either sit here trapped or take me to work and pick me up and then be relegated to driving my car of which he is not a fan. Double whew.
So that's it, that's our trip out to the Wild West. It was a challenge and not the trip we'd imagined but we managed to enjoy ourselves and make it a vacation despite the challenges. We're resilient like that.
September 4--Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Still Life with Peaches and Grapes. The peaches warmed in the rays of sunlight streaming in the window and the room was filled with their perfume. A drunken wasp staggered over the rosy patch of peach fuzz humming to itself. Mariette lay her dead down on her arm and drowsily watched the insect tap at the fruit. She imagined that it was looking for a place to take a bite. What if the peach split open, she thought, would all the wasps in the garden fly through the window?
That's when it was time for me to fall asleep, only to be awakened at 2:30 AM by a raging storm. Thunder and lightning and rain rain rain. It should storm like that in the day so we could enjoy the power of it. Oh, and the power must have flickered because a few clocks were blinking this morning. Today this here laptop gets to go be looked at by Aaron, my favorite fixit guy, to see if the problem with the screen can be fixed or if I need to stop at Cyberworks tomorrow to buy the refurbished unit they told me about on the phone the other day. Man, if it's not one thing going to crap it's all of them. Nothing else better break, that's all I've got to say. (I'm done trying to make the pictures be where I want them to be, it's very frustrating and time consuming to move them around and then have the text shift leaving big gaps, I'm sure you can figure things out.)