Day Seven of the "Race Against Death Tour" dawns clear and calm..........
August 13th, 1995, Interior, South Dakota: This was a day that was weird beyond measure, but to really understand what happened that day in western South Dakota, I think it might be a good thing to remind ourselves where I had been, and what had been happening in my life at this time.
I was just less than a month removed from the final divorce proceedings from my first wife, which were no big deal in reality, other than the fact that the break up was a soul crushing experience for me. I was on pretty shaky ground emotionally, and after riding in extremely hot, dry conditions, having bonked the second day out, and being in a setting that was rife with human despair and poverty, it is amazing that I made it as far as I had.
This day started out okay, but it didn't stay that way for long, and in the end, I can point back to this day as a milestone, a big turning point in my life personally, and from the standpoint of this particular tour, it would have a huge impact. So, with that said, here is how it went down. I know a lot of what you will be reading in the next weeks will be almost unbelieveable, but it really did happen this way.
Interior was pretty quiet this morning as we awoke and packed up to go. Before we bugged out, we had to stop at a small grocery/general store on the edge of town. It wasn't a very big place, and it really looked like a house more than a store proper, but that is all we had access to out there, so we gladly availed ourselves of the opportunity.
The watch of the bikes fell to me, and Troy and Ryan stepped inside to get more bread and peanut butter for the road. The door hadn't closed yet when I spied a Native American and it wasn't long before he approached me.
He was another young man that spoke like a hippie and was panhandling me for money. He said something about having to get a bus ticket to see his ill sister in a town far away. He wanted five dollars. I said I didn't have any money to spare him, but I wished him well.
He retorted with the following, "Hey man, that's cool. I understand. Well........could you give me. like say, $4.78?"
I did a double take. What? This guy was bartering for a hand out? I declined his offer.
Well, that's cool man. How about $4.32? , he returns.
No. Can't do it. Sorry dude!
"Well, okay man, how about $4.20?", and on and on. It seemed as though Troy and Ryan were never coming out, and they probably were in there awhile, because the guy made it all the way down under two bucks and was still bargaining with me when they did finally emerge from the store.
I bade him a final farewell, mounted my bike, and took off as fast as I could go. Troy and Ryan were laughing at my experience as I recounted it to them. I was just tired of dealing with the "V.I.P" folks on this trip.
The road out of Interior was pretty flat and was skirting the badlands to the North. Too far away to really see much, but we would see a "pile" of weird soil, or strange rocks occaisionally. Traffic was non-existant, and Troy was wanting to hit the mileage hard in the morning due to the favorable conditions. So, he got out front and lit it up once again. We were strung out behind him as he set out a furious pace to Scenic, South Dakota, the next town up the road, where we hoped we would find some refueling opportunities.
Next Week: More despair and a plague of locusts!