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Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Black Hills, Part VI: The Badlands

There's not much to say about The Badlands. They are beautiful. They are hard to describe. They are empty of life, except for the odd and visiting tourist.

The Badlands of South Dakota

We drove through the National Park. We saw what was to see, which sadly didn't include Bigfoot.

The Badlands are quietly beautiful, so I will let these last photos of our Black Hills vacation speak as The Badlands themselves speak: silently.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

The Black Hills, Part V: Goofy Custer

The men who made their nation. The man who lost his. The Black Hills of South Dakota contain monuments to all these legacies. As well as to whorehouse cat-fights:

A Working Girl and a Madame

The outdoors play, put on by the by a local playhouse a block from the Chamber of Commerce, ended with a shoot-out.

A Corrupt Sheriff Bites the Dust

Because, you know, that sort of thing doesn't happen in the Hills anymore.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Black Hills, Part IV: Mount Rushmore

I saw (but did not take pictures of) Mount Rushmore in Beijing. I captured Meguode Guofu, though!:


so in our trip to the Black Hills Lady of tdaxp got to see him in South Dakota:

Keep reading for the story of a side-trip to the northern Black Hills, including Mount Rushmore and beautiful Sylvan Lake Lodge

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Black Hills, Part III: Blue Bell Lodge

After the day-trip in Pierre, a visit to Crazy Horse (the same day), and adventures at Custer State Game Lodge (that night), it was off to Blue Bell Lodge. Blue Bell is also in Custer State Park, connected by a two-lane, modern highway and beautiful scenery. While the Game Lodge's attraction is the building's history and charm, Blue Bell is a placing for camping and (a more civilized option) cabin-ing

View from the Porch

With nothing much to do, I enjoyed some beer and read Matt Ridely's Nature via Nurture. But my quiet evening was not to be...

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Monday, September 18, 2006

The Black Hills, Part II: Custer State Game Lodge

The beautiful and historic Custer Game Lodge in Custer State Park, South Dakota. Two small wings have been added for extra guests, and a campground is down the road, but the original building just oozes beauty, class, and style. The "Game Lodge" is the epitome of nature and comfort in the state. My cousin's dacha near Scotland has been described as "Game Lodge East," both in reference to his brilliance at decoration and as an homage to what all South Dakotans aspire to.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Black Hills, Part I: Crazy Horse

While I was at the University of South Dakota working on my thesis in Computer Science, an engineer visited us from the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. The massive project is an earth-moving masterpiece, not so much sculpted into a mountain as mined from one. The setting, in the southern Black Hills, is gorgeous.

Crazy Horse in Thunderhead Mountain

Crazy Horse's initial sculptor was the Polish-Bostonian Korczak Ziolkowski. Ukraine or Ukraine-style flags (never explained, and possibly an effort at a pseudo-Native theme) littered the park.

Ukraine's Glory Has Not Perished, no matter what you say

A dramatic miniature of the future of Thunderhead Mountain reference Crazy Horse's statement, "My lands are where my dead lie buried." Like Ogalala Lakota Indians were the "Iraqi Resistance" of their time, fighting in mobile bands against a better organized, more numerous foe. Also like the Sunni Iraqi Arabs, they made the mistake of attacking a numerically superior majority that wouldn't go away.

Further images of the memorial are available at Wikimedia Commons.

The Black Hills, a tdaxp series
0. Pierre
1. Crazy Horse
2. Custer State Game Lodge
3. Blue Bell Lodge
4. Mount Rushmore
5. Goofy Custer
6. The Badlands

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Black Hills, Prologue: Pierre

There are some blogs -- particularly Catholicgauze and Coming Anarchy -- that one can't read without feeling a love of places. I also feel that way when visiting my native South Dakota. I've been lucky to be to some amazing places this summer -- like the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square -- and to visit less famous places that are home to folks I truly love, like Fort Wayne, Indiana and Nacogdoches, Texas. Yet South Dakota will always be South Dakota.

A Country Church at Fort Thompson, Crow Creek Indian Reservation

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14:20 Posted in America 2006, South Dakota | Permalink | Comments (5) | Tags: pierre

Friday, July 28, 2006

From Nacogdoches to Lincoln

The bus ride from Kilgore, Texas to Omaha, Nebraska went well. Nothing on it compared to the indescribable beauty of the sky-scraping Sears Tower in Chicago, but then nothing compared to the hideous awfulness of travel in the American South, either. All in all a fair trip. It also was quite social, with Rob driving me from Nacogdoches to Kilgore, and Lady of tdaxp ferrying me from Omaha to Lincoln.

But before some neat pictures and regular travel commentary, a word on "Steve." Steve (Me: "What's your last name?" Him: "You don't need to know.") was my terrible, terrible bus driver from Kansas City to Omaha. I have no idea if "Steve" is a real name or a nom de autobus, but whatever that creature is legally known is he was the driver of Jefferson Lines JL-0502 on between roughly 8 AM and 12 PM, Friday, July 28, 2006.


My friendly encounter with Steve began as follows

Steve: That (pointing to my second carry-on bag) is not coming on the bus.
Me: Why not? What is the problem?
Steve: Don't get smart with me. That's not coming on the bus. It needs to be checked.
Me: It's been carried on nine trips so far this journey. It is the correct size and weight for a carry-on.
Steve: Listen, that's not coming on the bus.
Me: I'll go over to the Information Desk, and ask them if there is a problem with my carry-on.
Steve: Do you want me to call the police? I'll have you escorted out of here. When you work for Jefferson Line for twenty-five years, you can tell me about their Standard Operating Procedure.

Steve's general build and his hilarious use of military terminology (from his quixotic, personal "SOP" to his hilarious use of the word "tarmac" to refer to "parking lot") imply a background in the United States Air Force. His personality does not. I am fortunate enough to count several Air Force officers among my first friends. The way these men conduct themselves -- their combination of warmth and seriousness -- always impresses me. Military service, to any country, is a serious business, and I am always impressed by how patriotism and true manliness bring out the best in each other.

Clearly, Steve was an exception.

That rant over, let's begin the photo tour!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Houston, Texas

"Houston Rain," my friend Rob said, "is like any other kind of rain, but worse. It is worse than South Dakota rain. It is so thick that you can't so the front of your own car. It will be like a wall, which is just there, in the distance. Then you drive closer and closer to it. Then you are in the rain, and you're blind. I hate driving in Houston Rain." Obviously Rob's thoughts were absurd, I thought, as the morning in Nacogdoches was warm and sunny.

Until we came closer to Houston

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09:40 Posted in America 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tags: Houston, Texas, rainy

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stephen F. Austin State University

I am currently in Texas visiting my close friend Rob (he of Trumpy Productions). Rob left our common home of South Dakota to move to Nacogdoches some time ago to prepare for a career in film. Now a graduate assistant at Stephen F. Austin State University, Rob has made everyone proud with his original, technically demanding, and often hilarious work.

In the middle of the University is a giant statue of Stephen Austin, the "Father of Texas" and the Republic's first Secretary of State.

Interestingly, two nearby plaques appear to have been written by a tumultuous committee. Both are polite towards Secretary Austin, though the first refers to him as the one person whose vision and leadership led to [the Republic's] creation and the other uses a somewhat more Leftist formulation

But whatever one thinks of the past, the present of the campus is beautiful. Read more, and see for yourself!

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20:20 Posted in America 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | Tags: texas, nacogdoches, sfasu

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