Thursday, June 29, 2006


My first thought when I saw these erosion-formed crags of land was, "What the (heck) is this?" I had no idea such things existed on Earth, let alone the Midwest.

The Badlands are just south of Interstate 90 heading west toward Rapid City (Mt. Rushmore, etc.). The French explorers dubbed the trecherous land "mauvaises terres" (badlands) because they were so hard to cross. According to the information center, crocodiles (or alligators, they weren't clear on this) and the predecessor to horses roamed the area at one point. I also learned that these formations were probably not here 500,000 years ago. Scientists think the area was a great salt sea that dried up, leavng soft rock and land that is easily eroded. The Badlands, they say, may not even be here in another 500,000 years. So you better jump into your cars and start driving, friends!

I captured this cow on (digital) film along a side road heading into the infamous town of Wall, S.D., just north of the Badlands. It was a beautiful sunset drive and I couldn't resist framing the cow. Long live the bovine!

This man, pumping my gas - you'll see why below -- was in the middle of asking me where I was from when I took this shot. He lives in the town of Interior, which is the middle of the Badlands. He's lived in California, Florida and elsewhere, but chose Interior because the climate suits him, and he likes the solitude. In the town of Interior, there is a post office, grocery (with lots of little liquor bottles), school, communications utility, playground, bar, church and some houses.

The grocery boasts one of the two gas stations in town. This one is comprised of a tank atop the bed of a pickup truck. The pump does not stop automatically, so you have to feel for it, or the gas will splosh all over you. I witnessed a man in a blue SUV get his hand drenched in gas. Fortunately, I got a little help at the pump.

House on the Rock

About an hour outside Madison lies the brainchild of Alex Jordan: House on the Rock. This man built his house within the rocks among the hills of Wisconsin. I wasn't expecting much, and was delightfully surprised at the expertise and attention to detail that went into this attraction.

Instead of springs or wood underneath the couch cushions is ... rock.

The long skinny walkway is called the Room of Inspiration. It hangs over the trees and rocks below, affording views of the surrounding countryside. I found it harrowing to walk all the way to its point, but I persevered, pushing my fear aside. My feet and hands were sweating the entire time! The top photo shows the walkway from the ground. The bottom shows it as I did, walking shakily to its end.

Much-anticipated Logansport, Ind.

I chilled in Logansport for about a week visiting a friend there. Once a bustling railroad town, due to the convergence of the Wabash and Eel rivers, it seems now to be home of farmers, Pepsi workers, and mental hospital employees. I found the roosters roosting on a John Deer tractor amusing, as well as the walnut grove.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Coming soon...

Logansport, Ind., population 20,000.

F Cubed (Mad.)

Three thrilling experiences on my first night camping in Madison, Wisc., included the following:
frigid temperatures;
food poisoning; and
frat-style neighbors.

The low was 58 degrees last night. I am used to that in February in Florida. But it's the second day of summer!!! So I had to put on a T-shirt, long-sleeved hoodie, gray sweatshirt, and blue sweater. On top of that, I snaked into my sleeping bag and covered my head with my pillows. (The latter is not necessarily a new act on my part, but in this case it helped with the cold as well as the potential light.)

IHOP was one of the few eateries open at the time I was hungry, so I went and ordered some scrambled eggs, sausage and English muffin. One of those things did not a happy gastronomical choice make. At about 1 a.m., I had to cross the 200-foot or so camp area to reach the restroom in time. Did I mention it was 58?

Though bedsheets and beer were not playing major roles in my camping neighbors' shenanigans, country music and Bad Company were. I politely asked them about midnight to lower the music. The woman, who appeared to be with her daughter, said she could do that. I put in my earplugs and tried to sleep. I could still hear the music, and the talking. It's like they were at a crowded Thanksgiving Day table and had to shout to be heard. They finally settled down around 2 a.m.

I settled down around 2:45 a.m., only to be woken up by my cell phone ringing at 8 a.m. I have hopes tomorrow will be better. The neighbors have moved out, I will avoid IHOP, and the lady who runs the camping facility has offered me a blanket. Life is good.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Who'd have thunk it?

North Georgia turns out to be stunning! It also is home to Tallulah Gorge, at 900 feet, the "deepest canyon east of the Mississippi." I asked a fellow tourist to snap my photo. In turn, I snapped his. I think both photos have unique aesthetic qualities.

Some of the unique wares at the falls are pigs who don't:

My backroads choice led me on a journey to the Smokey Mountains, on my way to Knoxville, Tenn.

This is a bridge in Cherokee, N.C., an uber-touristy area run by Native Americans. I thought it was pretty in the afternoon light:

Corbin, Ky., a few miles from I-75, is "where it all began" for Col. Sanders. The original recipe chicken I chowed down on from the "Colonel's Cafe" -- which boasts the real kitchen he used to make his finger-lickin fowl -- tasted just like any I've ever gotten in South Florida, but I felt a greater sense of pride eating it. Tee hee.

Corbin, Ky., BP station attendants should be commended for their signmaking, as these notices show:

Friday, June 09, 2006

Valdosta, Ga. or ... A Room with a View

If you've seen the movie "Wayne's World," you will know the exact bland, unexcited voice with which Wayne announces: "Hi. I'm in Delaware."

That being said ...

"Hi. I'm in Valdosta."

It's a stopping point on my way to Kentucky for some contra dancing. I hope it won't be bland and unexciting. I'm currently enjoying a breakfast of banana, coffee, and whole wheat bagel. The bagel is bland. :)

See you on the road!


p.s. The photo at top is the view from my hotel room off I-75. Below is untitled.

p.p.s. Yay! I am finally out of Florida!!!!! It's been *years* since I have actually driven out of the state. :)