Monday, December 13, 2010

Alas, No Golden Corral In Missoula

The saga continues....
When last I wrote I was planning on heading to the Missoula Golden Corral.  After winding my way through Missoula I finally got to the address that was listed online and there it was....a Ford dealership.  AGGH!  I called the number of the restaurant to get one of those tri-tone beeps and hear "the number you dialed has been disconnected."  So it was a quick trip through the Wendy's drive-through and then I hit the road again.  By the way, I liked the old, sea-saltless fries better.
Friday's driving went along just fine until just about sunset, when my Garmin dumped me off the highway and put me on a road that was about 100 miles of nothing combined with dangerous curves and scary downhills.  It seemed like I just kept going downhill and never going up again...and with it being dark and the scenery literally invisible it sort of felt like I was driving down into the bowels of the earth.  I was running out of gas again.....shouldn't there be a law that there's a gas station at every exit?  And the Garmin showed the closest gas station to be 50 miles away so I was praying to God that it was wrong and I wouldn't get stranded out here in the barrens, when I came to an intersection in the town of Lame Deer and saw a brightly lit oasis up the road to my right.  I shouted out a "thank you" that no one but God could hear and made my way up there.  When I got out of the van to pump the gas I was immediately surrounded by four or five DOGS.  They all seemed pretty friendly so I asked the guy pumping gas across from me if they were his dogs.  He said, "No...those are strays.  You're on an Indian Reservation now!"  I'm not sure why stray dogs and Indian reservations go together..that might be just my ignorance...but somewhere in the back of my mind Paul Revere and the Raiders started singing.  It just seemed kind of weird that the guy said it like somehow I had wandered into a strange and dangerous land.
I went into the store and there were three people in there,two women behind the counter and a big guy wearing the strangest women's makeup I had ever seen...eyeshadow, eyeliner, the works.  They were all very friendly.  They let me use the rest room even though it was marked as "NOT A PUBLIC RESTROOM" and when I came out they were all laughing at some good joke.  I don't know why, but I had the sneaking suspicion they were laughing at me.  That might just be me being paranoid because by this time I was getting that Twilight Zoney feeling, you know?
The rest of the ride through Hell's detour was treacherous and scary, but at least I had a full tank of gas.  I made it to my destination, Deadwood, SD, around 1am and everyone there was talking about the snow. I seem to have brought winter with me nearly every place I've been!
I barely remember the Deadwood hotel room. I jumped up early Saturday morning to hit the road for Minnesota, eager to meet the Bicknase family and perform again.  Things were going along swimmingly along I-90.  I took an exit to get gas and that's when I saw the message from Dan Bicknase:  "I-90 into Minnesota is closed because of the snow.  We have to cancel."  I called him and learned that there was just no way to get to their house.  I would have tried in spite of the weather, but with roads closed it was impossible.  I was SO DISAPPOINTED.   I've been planning this tour for months and assuring everyone on it that I would get to there houses no matter what. I really feel I've let the Bicknase's down.
I stopped at Wall Drug in Wall, SD to pick up some postcards and get some of the donuts I'd seen advertised on their roadside signs for the last 30 miles or so.  The last time I was there it was summer and the place was wall to wall (no pun intended) people. This time it was like a ghost town.  Everyone there was telling me that the roads a little farther east were treacherous and I ought to just give it up and stay in Wall, but I kept going nonetheless. At some point I took a detour into Badlands National Park, but I can't remember if that was before or after I went to Wall.  The weather was nice and even  sort of sunny so I took the extra time to motor around the park loop since I had no where I had to be that night.  I paid for this later when I was driving across the prairie down to Yankton (a last minute decision because by this time the roads WERE bad).  It was dark out even though it was only about 5pm and the wind was blowing unimpeded across that flat land, stirring up snow squalls that blinded me completely.  At times I had to nearly stop the van and pray no one would come along behind me.  So happy when I got to Yankton, although I was bored out of my mind that night and started to feel VERY homesick.  "It's a Wonderful Life" was on TV and that always makes me cry.  I caught up on email and stuff and hit the hay.
And speaking of hitting stuff I've gotta hit the road for Indianapolis (Fishers, to be exact) so I'll have to continue this later.
Thanks for coming along with me!  Watch for my mini updates and road pictures on Facebook!

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