(via sammaf)Source: itsonbitch
Meanwhile, Back In Montana…
Leaving Montana, it had gotten dark as we veered off I-90s beaten path for the shortcut along US Route 212, a shortcut we been advised upon, but also warned about. Ahead lie darkness and the unknown while the rearview held an orange blast of the last rays of the days light.
We had to make a stop in Lame Deer, MT so Hannah could relieve herself (small girl, small bladder, although I seem to be part camel). I was happy to stop as I wanted to clean some of the road from our windshield and headlights, as visibility was at a minimum once the sun went down and the oncoming traffic’s lights were aimed right towards our smudgy windshield and eyes as we turned each curve.
Lame Deer is on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Our Montanian friends warned us to keep an eye on the local Native Americans, in what seemed like an overtly racist white manner. Coming from the East Coast without much Native/Settler interaction other than fancy casinos (of which I have only seen ads for with happy white faces winning money [a universal casino lie], but have never actually visited), I didn’t fully expect the reciprocal racism.
We found a gas station not far from the highway, thanks to a little app called RoadNinja that became our main means to tell which exits to stop at for food and gas (I highly recommended it, my fellow smart phone road warriors). We parked in front of the store to the gas station, and the first thing we noticed while pulling in were the several stray dogs of the area. They maneuvered around the pickup trucks pulling in and out of the station with deft knowledge of how to stay alive while also coming close enough to beg for scraps.
The second thing we noticed was the car packed as tight as we were with five men, all of whom were staring at us. At first, I thought perhaps they were intrigued by our antlers. But then one came over to me, while the others all watched, as we were exiting the car. He didn’t even glace at the antlers as he asked us where we were from in a way that didn’t seem to offer help so much as invite trouble. My New York City instincts kicked in, and knowing that our car had Montana license plates, I said flatly, in a way that invited no further conversation, just one word: “Montana.” The guy took the hint, said, “Oh,” and walked away. I started to feel a bit like a New York City ass, but then I realized that the whole time, his friends in the car kept staring right at us.
Hannah went into the gas station while I searched for the windshield squeegee at each of the pumps, wandering around like the stray dogs in search of something that wasn’t coming that night.
As Hannah returned, I went in to see if the clerk knew where one was. "You can find them back in Wisconsin," he said without so much as a look at me. Well, I was heading to Wisconsin, not from Wisconsin, but I took that as my cue to exit, grabbed some paper towels from the bathroom and Hannah and I wiped down the car with windshield fluid by hand before heading back onto the highway.
The temperature was below freezing and it makes sense in hindsight not to have squeegees out if the fluid will freeze (although the thought crossed my mind that it isn’t supposed to). Starting this night and for several more states, I wouldn’t find my squeegee. Not until we got to Wisconsin in fact, as eerily predicted.
Our travels had us dip our toes into the Northeastern corner of Wyoming before hitting South Dakota. We passed by the famous Black Hills of Deadwood, a place we originally would have loved to stop, but would have added too much time to the rest of our journey before we even got underway.
Hannah and I had agreed to stop in Rapid City, SD so that we could hit up nearby Mount Rushmore at sunrise the next morning and watch the first light dance across the Presidents’s monumental heads. I even excitedly played My Morning Jacket’s ”First Light" in anticipation of what I expected to be an awesome sight.
We pulled out the RoadNinja app again and found a TGIFriday’s just a couple of exits before our hotel: we hadn’t seen anything a grade above a McDonald’s since leaving Bozeman, so we were excited, probably more than we should have been due to hunger.
We went into the restaurant and the only place to sit was in a booth right next to the bar, but we still had some driving to do and neither of us wanted a drink yet, despite our waitress pushing the late night happy hour drink and food specials on us. It was only a Thursday night, but the bar was hopping with the local singles scene. Bros were broing it up loudly in their jeans and t-shirts while the women were trying to catch their eye with much more elaborate styles of dress. Yes, we are still in the TGIFriday’s, weary and hungry and in great spirits, telling jokes and high fiving just like the Bros, maybe even more often actually. Jokes and high fives fuel our friendship.
We both look over the menu for something to eat, not finding much that suits our taste until we both land on the Korean Tacos. Korean Tacos? At a Fridays? With deliciously world-renowned Sriracha sauce? There really wasn’t anything else on the menu either one of us wanted, but we were more than a little wary of the potential for disaster here. Our stomachs gurgled in unison for us to make a decision.
The item was on the $10 happy hour deal and we decided to split it. We already knew we were big on the food sharing. The waitress came by to check on us, because clearly we were taking too long to figure out what kind of overly sauced meat to get.
"How are these Korean Tacos?" Hannah asked.
"Oh, those are my least favorite thing on the menu. It’s mostly vegetables and really spicy. And they are on corn tortillas.” She couldn’t have sold us with a better line!
"We’re going to get them," I said without skipping a beat. Our waitress looked at us like we were from mars. "Ooooooh-kay, I’ll bring them right out."
"And can we get extra Sriracha sauce on the side," Hannah asked.
When the waitress returned several minutes later with our sizzling dish. Never mind that the tacos were on a stand and there was no need for the dish to sizzle other than to scare off small animals bent on steal our tacos with needless heat. I think TGIFridays likes you to experience your food with all the senses, including sound. Maybe it overstimulates you so you don’t rely too strongly on taste.
"Watch out, the skillet is hot. I also put some of this hot sauce on the side. It’s called Sriracha, have you heard of it? It’s really spicy."
Hannah and I traded a sly set of smirks at each other. “Yes, thank you.” We did ask for it by name. “Ok, well, enjoy.”
We devoured the tacos and perhaps it was the long drive and knowledge that we would get no better food that night, but they were good. There wasn’t too little meat, like the waitress implied. The veggies were crunchy, and the meat had the typical bulgogi flavor, and the corn tortilla didn’t fall apart from all the juices. I’m sure if I had them again, I wouldn’t say the same, but at the time, it was exactly what we wanted. And our waitress seemed legitimately happy that we enjoyed our meal.
We headed back down the highway a few more miles to our hotel for the night. Like many in the area, it had an indoor water slide that circled around the bar before dumping you in the pool, although this one was under construction still and I wouldn’t get to try it. We started the long process of emptying the car of our valuables, including the antlers and my several Montana local craft beers that we bought before hitting the road. I didn’t want the beer to freeze overnight and both make a mess and me cry for its loss.
Once we were settled, I cracked open a can of Moose Drool and relaxed for the evening. We traveled 460 miles that day, and tomorrow would be an even longer journey with even more adventures along the way.
Customer: Did you used to work at Powell’s, or do you just have a t-shirt?
Jenn: I just have a t-shirt! Because it’s a great bookstore.
Customer: Definitely, I have one too.
Jenn: And they have a really good tumblr. Do you know about tumblr?
Customer: I do! I just got back from a road trip actually, from Montana to here, with elk antlers, that I documented on there.
The antlers make friends wherever they go! Thanks, Jenn, for sharing!
PS - I’ve always been a big fan of the word “lurve.”Source: wordbookstores