June 29, 2014
Did I expect to see Robert Redford branding his cattle in some field adjoining Sundance? No. But I casually surveyed the landscape on the off chance entering the little town all the same. I stopped, fueled the car, and bought a smoked cheddar cheese and the local paper. I’d have passed on Sundance but for the fact that it was on the way to Devils Tower.
Let me be honest. This is my favorite kind of adventure. Dipping into the deep film culture of my family. Chasing down the obscure (and not so obscure) icons of those movies we watched over and over and over as the kids grew up. The ones so important to the family master narrative that they warranted being purchased on DVD even after they had been memorized from the venerable VHS. This is the kind of fervor that propelled me to Devil’s Tower even though, like Richard Dreyfus, it certainly didn’t make any sense (in my case, given my schedule).
The surprising thing is that what Essentially began as a great story turned into much more (sorry). It is really a stunning site. Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt named it the country’s first national monument? Imposing even at a distance. Personally, I found it more impressive than Mt. Rushmore, but maybe part of me still believes that aliens drop in–that it really is a cosmic truck stop.
given all the tower inspired art in the film, what locked into my sense of humor was the idea of joining all the mythically inspired art with a piece of my own. And, so for the first time on the trip, I hauled out the little camping table and folding chair, a relic from Old Main at UW-Platteville. and, the brushes, watercolors, and water. The weather–perfect. Only a car or two passing through and no one very interested until I began to pack up. Then a sixty something couple decked out in their Harley-wear yelled from across the road. “you’re not leavin’? we were just coming to see you.” He looked like a piece of work with his leathery brown head and tied salt and pepper beard. she had on her leather chaps and looked like Evie Kagel for those readers from the Platteville area. the wanted me to pose painting even those I was done. She was from the area and told me the legend of the girls being chased by the enormous bear. With “that” look in his eyes, he told me that there were Indians in the area and that they liked “white women.” I didn’t miss a beat before telling him I was Lithuanian. He looked confused for a minute and then “A foreigner, even better.” All this in the heels of my racial awareness training last week.
No. I didn’t get to Billings early, but The stop was worth every minute and the ever broadening landscape kept distracted me from another 4 hours in the car.