Devil’s Tower, Divine Grace

I’m sitting at a picnic table at Reuter’s Campground in Sundance Wyoming, a short distance from Devil’s Tower (of Close Encounters’ fame) and about 11 hours from Austin MN which I left at 8:00 this morning.

I was seduced again by the slipping backward of the clock one hour somewhere in South Dakota. That and the bright sunlight that said “too early to stop,” so I kept on, waiting for a clear sign to call it a day.

Despite the first stand alone Starbucks the exit past Mt Rushmore that felt like a long lost friend and where I cashed in on a free drink, a grande latte with an extra shot, my body mind connection was decidedly starting to misfire. It’s a funny thing how it starts to go, I could and did continue driving, but talking on the phone, once to a new work colleague and once to a job candidate showed me the cracks.

My desire to avoid another night in a motel and resistance to commercial RV campgrounds pushed me on. At the sign for Sundance, with its historical and pop culture resonance, I pulled into a rest area, parked under a tree and sat on the grass with my phone and the fairly useless Michelin atlas I bought on Amazon Prime back in PA. Between them, I found the Black Hills National Forest with its tiny tent symbols on the map and the Web page on my phone that listed Reuter’s Campground. Google Maps said it was 17 minutes away and was first come, first served. I set out with a prayer on my lips.

I pulled in behind a large camper bearing a D for Deutschland sticker on its bumper and waited for the host, Laura, to register me and collect my ten bucks. I was so grateful that I literally had tears in my eyes.

It’s good to land somewhere, and when it’s below a lupine and pine covered slope with the sun slanting through on its way down to the other side of the world, cool and quiet and only marginally populated, that is a blessing.

There’s a whole other post about passing through South Dakota and this bit of Wyoming, the great grasslands and the badlands with their shameful commodification and negation of the First People’s history and obliteration. Custer this and cowboy that. I saw the great nation in my mind’s eye, the great hoop of Black Elk’s vision as the land rolled out in the four directions and above and below without end.

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