Here is the video to Bryce Canyon:
From the moment I stepped into South Dakota – and almost onto a rattlesnake – I knew I was going to like this place. The landscape is surreal, rugged and unforgiving to the weary and rough. I know, been there, done that! When I told the lady at the registration office in the Badlands I was not tent camping, just a tarp, she looked at me like I was crazy; then said, “I’ll bet you’ll be running for the car before morning,. You know we are supposed to get a bad thunderstorm tonight. It gets pretty windy and cold around here…better stake down real good!” It did get a little chilly, no fire, but I did fine. I put my hammock up under a little tin shelter, battened-down the hatches of my tarp and away to dreamland I went. The fact that I had been sleeping in a car for two days also helped in the journey to sleep. If it stormed it at, it didn’t bother me.
The badlands are deceptive and captivating. From afar it appears as though it is stone, strong and firm but as you walk through it, it crumbles beneath your feet. It is the closest thing I could imagine to walking on the moon. It is nothing but switchbacks going up, and sliding coming back down. Tempting for a backpacking excursion, but not tempting enough to brave through a thunderstorm.
So we did what anyone would do in our situation, we found a dingy bar In a rundown town where a bow legged cowboy served us whiskey and crappy pizza.
The next day we planned on trekking up to the top of the Crazy Horse Monument in the Black Hills. The family that runs the monument allow this twice a year, but unfortunately for us, the weather prevented the adventure. So, we got a hotel room, had a good meal, some strong drink, watched a kid get stuck in the hotels water park tube that shot though the bar (odd) and got adequate enough sleep. I’m really digging the hammock, Warbonnet Blackbird XLC. Get you one, you won’t regret it!
I gotta say, the Black Hills are definitely an outdoorsman’s paradise. Large rocks protrude from the hills like teeth on a carnivorous beast ready to consume those who dare to venture in. There are rocks to climb, trails to hike, trees, and plenty of wildlife to harass. I did a typical tourist move today when we came across four mountain goats grazing on the side of the road. The mountain man inside me took over for a moment as I jumped out of the car on the side of the road, almost grabbing my tomahawk but taking the camera instead. I’m really not an idiot, and I know a mountain goat would whoop my ass any day, but GoPro cameras don’t zoom so you have to become the action, right? And, I’m one of those guys who would fight the Devil just because he’s the Devil. So, I get about five yards away, fully expecting the thing to charge me, and started to take some pictures. Well, it was more of an event for me then him. He popped his head up, looked at me, turned his back – dropped a deuce- and walked off, smug bastard! I should have brought my hawk after all.
Mt. Rushmore was cool too. It’s 11 bucks a car to get in (a bit much), but the Badlands were $15 so hey ‘Merica! It was cold and rainy. I could see the misery on the faces of the unsuspecting tourists. The experience is about what I expected, a huge sculpture in the middle of nowhere, man taming nature and permanently leaving our mark for future generations to be inspired by, cool! We decided to skip Crazy Horse, but still saw it from the side of the road, good enough. Now its off to Yellowstone in Wyoming to wrestle a grizzly bear like the mountain men of the past, wish him luck!
Well here I am cruising across highway 2 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula listening to China Cat Sunflower by the Grateful Dead. The pinewood forest permeates the air, and I can see hints of orange and red as trees peek out of the morning fog from Lake Michigan. I know you are probably wondering what happened to the cross country, circumnavigation cycle trip…well, let’s just say that didn’t work out. I’m still waiting to see my proctologist to have the bicycle seat removed from my ass. Although, I do have a new respect for cycling and bicycle touring and will continue to pursue it as a hobby and for short expeditions, but it wasn’t what I wanted out of the experience. Though the scenery was great and I love camping, I just didn’t feel like I had the freedom to explore the world around me. I was too tired to do anything and felt rushed to get everything done. Now, don’t think I mind getting my hands dirty, but that was a bit much. And now, I am on a road trip to nowhere. After all, my website wouldn’t be called Plight to Freedom if there wasn’t much plight, right?
Now, maybe you’re wondering how are we traveling; planes, trains, automobiles, are we staying at hotels, campgrounds, rest areas, Walmart’s or guerrilla camping? Well, the answer is probably yes to it all (we will see about the hotels or motels, tight budget). Last night, I slept in the back of Sean’s RAV 4 SUV curled up next to a Mancino pizza box while he slept in the front passenger seat at a rest area on the northern tip of the Mackinaw Bridge. The night before we stayed at a KOA and hammock camped, which is my preferred method of camping. Hammock camping that is, not KOAs. They are nice and convenient, but it doesn’t feel like camping. So, I guess we are rubber tramping across the great USA, going wherever the wind blows us, searching for a new beginning.
With this new endeavor I will be able to focus more of my attention to filming the landscapes, wildlife, and attractions America has to offer and with luck meet and interview people with amazing stories to tell. One of the main goals to my quest has been to seek out a new beginning or a fresh start. I am looking for a place in the United States for my wife and I to relocate, so call it a scouting expedition. We have dreamed about starting our own off grid self-sufficient homestead and stepping out of the rat race, if you will, as we unfortunately realized we are humans not rats. Sorry, ain’t going to work for Maggie’s farm no more (Bob Dylan reference). Because of our goal of homesteading and off grid living, I would like to visit others who have already been there and done that so I can learn from them how to accomplish this goal. It also connects with my brother and my plan to start our own community-campground-learning-center-type-thing (it’s a long story for another day). Self-sufficiency is the path to freedom. Now all I need to do is find a place, start a business, buy land, and a million other things to comply with whatever and whomever I need so I can have the perception of true freedom. Easy right?! We shall see.
If you all have any suggestions on places to visit please let me know, and yes, Taos, New Mexico is on our list of destinations. Thanks for your support and I think I’m going to chow down on some cold pizza.