The stylized horse and rabbit are statues. We know because we saw them in a sculpture garden in downtown Des Moines.
We’ve seen so much since we left the Chicago area three days ago: The University of Iowa in Iowa City. The spectacular capitol building in Des Moines. A Lewis and Clark memorial overlooking Council Bluffs. A bustling evening scene in Omaha. The Corn Palace in Mitchell. Badlands National Park. Mount Rushmore.
What’s made an even bigger impression, though, is the land itself. Today we drove mile after mile through North Dakota and Montana, the blue sky towering above us, the range extending in every direction, the highway empty. Life in this part of America is so different from what we knew in Durham, much less in Washington. We just returned to our Big Sky Motel in Roundup, Montana, after eating at the Busy Bee Cafe, where the walls were decorated with cowboy art and Garth Brooks played in the background. Men wore cowboy hats in the booths. The cash register offered handicrafts from a local Indian tribe.
This is why we travel — not only to be surprised and awed by tourist sites that exceed our expectations, as happened at the Badlands (shown left). What stays with us even more is the the sensation of seeing life through new eyes, of being reminded that other realities exist beyond our own routines.
Tomorrow we finish this big stretch of the trip, ending up near Glacier National Park, where we hope to hike for three days. Then it’s on to Seattle.
Incidentally, our caption contest is now under way to write the funniest caption for our Blue Devil gnome, G, who we photographed this morning at Mount Rushmore. Get funny. Take a look at instagram.com/davidjarmul and submit your entry!