Many days have offered great sightseeing. But fewer have offered great people experiences.
In the South, even strangers say hello to you on the street. And if you’re in a defined situation – say, you’re a guest in a hotel – the staff seems generally friendly.
But even at national parks and local eateries, both locals and fellow travelers often seemed self-contained and wary. On this trip, those most likely to chat have been other urbanites, like the Jacobs family (Josh; Lisa; Jennifer, 8; and Zachary, 13), whom I met in Custer State Park. Perhaps they sense a kindred soul.
Today was great in every regard: Great scenery; a cool, crisp pre-fall day – and terrific people.
Rudy Satchet and Barb Kliner were watering Collins, their sheepdog, when we first said hello, as we were taking photos of Devils Tower at an overlook. We both stopped again at another overlook and found ourselves laughing about the antics of the prairie dogs near by Devils Tower entrance.
Satchet and Kliner live and work in East Palestine, Ohio. They’d decided on a two-week roadtrip, making plans each night as they go via the Internet (a familiar process.)
His goal: To stop in towns with 300 people or less – to keep away from other tourists. She was beguiled by attractions along the way. “You see the little signs about the road, and I think, ‘I want to go there!’ ‘’ Both the Spam Museum in Austin, Minn., and the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D., had rated highly.
Charles and Eunice Parker of Liverpool, England, are part of a 16-day motorcoach tour of Western U.S. national parks. We met at Devils Tower.
“You need a lot of film, don’t you?’’ Charles said as we walked the 1.3 mile path around the tower’s base. They were only a couple of days into their trip, but they’d also ready visited both Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. “Crazy Horse was very emotional. It just blew me away.’’
It was in the bar of the historic Irma hotel (think bighorn sheep heads on the walls), in Cody, Wyo., that I met a trio of 20-somethings: Scott Richard, Andy Steinberg and Southgate Freeman, who goes by Sox. I overheard them talking about Scott’s new Internet business (free local classifieds) and Sox’s dream of writing a movie.
Andy and Sox are roommates, Scott and Sox are cousins, and Scott is married to the gorgeous Misty, who works the bar at the Irma. We talked about the topics that generally come up in bars when there’s no sporting event on TV: their girlfriends, politics, religion and land values.
Land values: Still pretty decent in Cody, but heading up.
Girlfriends: These guys are nice, and had nice things to say about their girlfriends – or in Scott’s case, his wife. Andy spent most of his time talking with her on his cell; Sox messaged his on his phone.
Politics: Well, let’s just say that we didn’t agree on much, but we enjoyed the friendly disagreement, and nobody left mad.
Religion: Surprisingly enough, we did agree there.
Just the ability to talk about it all without anyone getting irritable was a pleasure. A distinctly American pleasure.
Photo: Charles and Eunice Parker of Liverpool, England
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Posted by DARCOS CRUZ at 6:39 AM