Yesterday was the day that both taketh and giveth away.
Everything started off fine! We took off from Karen’s with full bellies and happily caffeinated. Driving out of town was sweet because Sioux Falls is precious and tiny.
But then? I got pulled over for speeding.
The thing that annoys me about being pulled over is not the fine, it’s that it was erroneous, I was bullied because I’m a woman, and that there’s nothing I can do about it. He told me I was going 91 mph (Which I definitely wasn’t; my speedometer was set to 84 mph in an 80 mph zone. He told me our speedometer must be broken.) and the only way to contest it is to show up in court in Salem, SD, (which he knows that I never will). Worst of all, he made me get out of the car and get into the cab of his cruiser.
The more I think about it, the more I’m bothered by it.
I’m mad at myself for doing it. Really mad. I’ve been telling myself that had Michael not been with me, I wouldn’t have gotten into his car, but…fuck. I don’t know, maybe I would have. Because you can’t argue with a cop, right? I asked him if this was normal procedure, and he said that it was. That in South Dakota they don’t want to handle tickets on the side of the road, for safety reasons. “We’re just paranoid,” he said. He wasn’t aggressive, he didn’t touch me, and I didn’t necessarily feel like anything was going to happen…but truth be told, I was totally frozen. I stopped thinking.
I don’t know. It’s said and done. Whatever.
South Dakota tried to lure us in with it’s ridiculous I-90 tourist traps. South Dakota succeeded a few times. We pulled off to see:
The Corn Palace…
[DISAPPOINTING PICTURE OF THE CORN PALACE NOT EVEN WORTH IT]
…which was under construction and underwhelming.
…which had the above Burt Reynolds tourist mag display.
…which was a WONDERLAND. I was way more into it than Michael was. I would not recommend eating at The Cactus Cafe, but I would recommend visiting every weird little store Wall Drug has to offer. The fellow that rang up my purchases told me that he butters up his wife by purchasing all of her outfits there. I told him that he was treating her right. I wasn’t being smarmy. He gave me a free bumper stickers. Also! Look at this sweet dog that lived in a little shop called Mocha Moose.
…which is the reason why I told Michael that I’d come with him on this trip. I’ve always really wanted to go to Mount Rushmore and didn’t know when I’d get the chance. I was worried when people told me that it was less impressive then they imagined it to be.
I don’t know why anyone would be unimpressed by it. I could have spent hours there. I hated that we couldn’t spend more time at each display in the museum, taken the tours offered, or hiked around the monument. But? We made due with the time that we did have, and I got some pretty stellar pictures.
Also? Mount Rushmore is riddled with chipmunks. CHIPMUNKS.
A group of Mennonites asked Michael, “Sir, what’s that there animal?” He later told me that he contemplated answering, “Aren’t you Mennonites a lot closer to nature than us city folk? Why are you asking me?”. But he didn’t say that. Instead, I spoke up and answered, telling them that it was in fact a chipmunk! But because I was a lady (in pants, no less!) they avoided eye contact with me and told Michael that they thought chipmunks were bigger.
The only thing that I was disappointed by at Mount Rushmore was that they sold Swiss Army Knife knockoffs in the gift shop with names on them, and I couldn’t buy one for myself because they didn’t sell ones with woman’s names on them.
Ha, yesterday was a terrible day to be a woman in the middle of nowhere, wasn’t it? Or, it’s always a terrible day to be a woman in the middle of nowhere. Those poor gals! I’m so glad I’m a liberal, liberated Los Angelady.
We drove out of Rapid City a different way than we came in and ended up driving through Deadwood! I’ll post the time-lapse soon of us driving from Mount Rushmore to the point in which Michael got pulled over for speeding by Officer Zellers.
Here’s the thing about Michael being pulled over: The experience was really, really lovely. Y’all, let me tell you about Officer Zellers.
Meeting Officer Zellers may be the highlight of our trip. He was this young, sweet, scrubbed Montana chestnut who was all smiles and proper introductions. He came up on the passenger side (because apparently I was a cop MAGNET yesterday), took Michael’s information, and came back with only a warning. He then answered all of the questions we had about antelope (Montana is rife with them!) and night speed limits.
“Officer Zellers?” I asked, “What is Montana’s definition of nighttime?”
“You know! That’s a good question. I need to look that up! But, I guess…when it’s dark.”
“Okay, so sunset? Or like, pitch black?” asked Michael.
He advised us to heed the streetlights: that they turn on half an hour before the sun goes down and turn off half an hour after it rises. Then he told us what time sunset was in Montana that evening (around 9pm!).
Officer Zellers really highlighted how bullshitty the circumstance of my pull over experience was. He cited Michael for the same speed overage I was (11mph over (so the speedometer isn’t broken)) but only gave him a warning. He also didn’t make Michael get out of the car.
UGH. Whatever. Better to focus on our love of Officer Zellers. Maybe we looked him up. Maybe he won the physical fitness award when he was named a Highway Patrolman earlier this year. Maybe we’re really proud of him! Maybe.
Driving was heinous after that. We were way behind because of all of the stopping and all of the being pulled over. We got to the Fortuna, ND Port of Entry that Michael had scouted for us (because of course he looked up preferred Port of Entry) to find that it WAS CLOSED.
We found a pocket of American cell phone reception, looked up the next closest Port of Entry, and found that it was open 24/7. Raymond, MT for the win! The sweet mounty that allowed us to cross reminded us of Officer Zellers, but was way more cut-and-dry. All business. He made us miss Officer Zellers.
Canada is bizarro world. Everything is kind of the same, but not really. We switched the car to metric when we got across, and I spent the next two hours struggling with “What does 100 kph feel like?”
We also struggled with sleepiness. Michael had hallucinations of Asian men in the backseat and had mini dreams about taking women on dates to malt shops. He told me that he thought, in said dream, “A milkshake shop is a great place to take a lady!” To keep us both awake, I instigated deep conversation (“If you knew then what you know now, what would you change?” kind of shit) and he shouted proclamations of defiance to those who’ve wronged us out the moonroof.
We got to the Wyndham Wingate in Regina, Saskatchewan around 2am. Our bad. Sleep was great. The room was clean. We really took our time this morning, and then I marveled at Canadians in the lobby at breakfast time.
Like, okay…we got into the elevator and a few floors down, the door opened. This toe-headed two year old in a dinosaur shirt looked up at us.
“Oops.” he said.
His father came up behind him, and in French told the little guy to go ahead and get in with the man and woman (look at how much French I know!). Both Dad and Son had Transformers in their hands.
Unprompted, Dad said to Mike, “Remember Transformers?”
“I went and got him this whole set, they’re all construction trucks, and they form into one big Transformer. They’re so bad ass!”
“I’m sure they’re all for him, huh?” Michael asked.
“Haha, yeah. Totally. That’s what my wife keeps asking.” The door opened, and in French, Dad told the little guy to come along. In English, the boy agreed and asked if we’d be coming with them. I talked to the dad again, at the continental breakfast. That little dude was Louis, and he had five month old brother in a robot onesie named Bryson. Canada, you’re killing me. It’s too much, I can’t.
I wish we could have gone with them, wherever they were going. But! Fort Saint John awaits.
I’m wrote this entry in the car from rural Canada. Canadian farmland doesn’t kid around, y’all! We’re used to seeing a whole lot of nothing as we drive, but the nothingness changes as we cross from one place into another.
Real talk: I’ve really come to know who I am in the past year, and traveling through these tiny towns with such a strong sense of self is unlike anything I’ve ever felt. I feel bigger than my body. Appreciative…not only for what I have, but for who these people are and the things that they do.
I love working in television, and I want to keep doing it for as long as I can see into the future. I want to tell stories, whether I’m writing them, directing them, producing them, or getting coffee for the people doing those things. Whatever the case, having this kind of perspective is extremely helpful. I’m grateful for it.