Travels with Smartacus. Part 3
We’re in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and I’m no longer sure of anything. For instance, why am I in Sioux Falls? No Sioux. No falls — at least as far as I can tell. Even the Dakotas themselves are unimpressive.
As I’ve always said: Do we really need two Dakotas? Wouldn’t one great Dakota be the better choice?
(In fairness, I feel the same way about the Carolinas.)
My son and I came to Sioux Falls by way of Salt Lake, then Jackson Hole, then Fort Collins, zigging and zagging across the northern plains, chasing a perfect plate of hash browns.
We stopped by Mt. Rushmore for a peek. Gotta say, Jefferson’s nose looks a little big. Was he Italian? Greek? Otherwise, Rushmore is perfect. I don’t think they should mess with it.
There is a spot, off to the right, where they could add another great American – say, one of the Jonas Brothers, or Kanye West, or Oprah. I no longer know what constitutes greatness anymore. Maybe they could run one of those polls on social media, where reason and good taste always triumph.
In any case, we are at Mt. Rushmore, and it’s a magnificent sight, fully worth the trouble if you ever get the chance. Were I an emotional man, with a heart and such, I would get tingles.
As you look at Rushmore, you find yourself wondering how the revisionists would attack it, which diminishes the experience somewhat. It won’t come down easy, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s not made of mashed potatoes.
It’s also probably booby-trapped. At the very least, it’s going to be hard to get a rope around Jefferson’s oversized schnoz. It would be like trying to lasso Cher.
My prediction is that Mt. Rushmore will survive. But who makes predictions anymore?
I mean, I’m in Sioux Falls, and I never saw that happening. Is it pheasant season yet? Where do I buy a muskrat trap? I’m just the type who could survive these rugged plains, long as my AmEx holds out.
Point is: Road trips are not for wimps, which is really disappointing to me. My back is killing me from this too-thin Honda seat. Every little seam of the interstate, every pebble, comes up through the suspension and into my L5 vertebrae.
As you know, I never complain and try not to cry in front of Smartacus, my son, my navigator, my Sacajawea. Sweet Jesus, my back hurts. We are so close to finding the trail again, the scent of the interstate, which smells like pecan logs and cheap motel coffee.
Happy to report that the corn is healthier than I’ve ever seen it, thick and Irish green, good news for anyone who likes In-N-Out burgers, cheap gas, Dr Pepper and bio-related plastics. Corn shapes our foreign policy and our diets. Like Rushmore, is a symbol of American grit and determination.
Ah, corn … reassuring corn. If you have corn, you have everything.
We roll through Dubuque, masterpiece on the Mississippi, and finally into northern Illinois, an undulant landing spot — my soft green pillow.
I know it’s the Midwest because I almost run over a bunny while out walking. In fact, three bunnies. They emerge from the long grasses in the front yards – you can mow, but two days later it’s too long again. The bunnies are like characters in an E.B. White story, pink eared and dumb with summer.
We all are.
I also think of Cheever when I’m back here. And the cush suburban stories of Updike. Trench coats. Scotch. Good leather shoes. Lust.
There is a spot on Rushmore, off to the right, where they could add another great American – say, one of the Jonas Brothers #ChrisErskineLA #rushmore #roadtripsTweet
Meanwhile, my sister is in the kitchen, explaining that her bottom teeth are like sugar cones.
“You know, kind of twisty and cupped,” she says after visiting her dentist.
Later, all the adults gnaw on porkchops and decide to play Kick the Can, after baseball, the greatest game God gave us.
“Do you have a good can?” someone asks.
Prepare for war. Prepare for Kick the Can.
Next: So many bratwursts, so little time.