Travels With Cosmo, Sixth and Final Installment

or, drive until the dog farts...

Posting live from I-80 in sunny Iowa via JK's bluetooth Treo and AD's sparkly Powerbook, it's Travels with Cosmo! Our final installment finds us in South Dakota and Iowa, where we close down a local bar and AD cleans it out of Sierra Nevada.

Well, we're coming down the homestretch. This Friday night finds us in Des Moines, IA, at the 25th Street Café across from Drake University. Marty, our marvelous waiter, has gotten us access to the restaurant's WiFi from the owner, so AD and I are blogging over beers. If you can believe it-and I know you can-AD has cleaned the bar out of almost its entire stock of Sierra Nevada. There is exactly one left. [Saturday morning update: AD grabbed the last Sierra Nevada on the way out of the bar, which we closed down. The fellow who owned the place didn't know he had one left; she dug in the fridge to find it.]

If you've driven through the Midwest, you've seen the bumper stickers: Where the heck is Wall Drug? Well, in Wall, SD, natch. It takes up an entire city block of this two-block town. AD and I left an Army Man in the store. I got a donut and coffee, which weren't bad and are offered "free to Viet Nam Veterans", according to the billboards on I-90. What were bad were the four bottles of the worst-tasting bottled water I have ever drunk. Wall Drug branded water is bottled somewhere in SD from a municipal water supply where they haven't heard about the dangers of contaminating of our Precious Bodily Fluid. Advertised prominently on the front label: "it's fluoridated". Didn't help the taste.

A long drive through the prairie, skirting to the north of the Badlands, led us to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. If you follow the signs, the path from I-90 to the Corn Palace is a tortuous one, designed to take you past every fast food, tchotchke merchant, muffler shop and transmission repair place in Mitchell. AD joked that it would be funny if the way out was a straight shot to the highway. Guess what? It was.

Cosmo loved the Corn Palace because the interior is AIR CONDITIONED. Our car thermometer read 102 degrees F. Cosmo was so happy to be there he posed for a corny photo.

For some reason, a hot dog place across the street has life-sized Fiberglass sculptures of the Blues Brothers in front. Joliet Jake's crossed knee made a perfect resting spot for an Army Man.

We met a huge group of people biking from Seattle to somewhere in New Hampshire. They were dealing with the heat remarkably well.

The rest of trip today was completely uneventful except for two items:

1. This strange quasi-religious cattle icon that AD snapped a quick picture of from I-29. Looks like something which would be featured in Zippy the Pinhead.

2. All through SD and Iowa there was what looked like a band of smog at the horizon. Is this actual smog or our midwestern topsoil being blown away?

In what will be our final installment, we'd like to wrap up some things we skipped over in the last couple weeks. We'll start in Portland, where you have to wonder how this fellow managed to snag this vanity plate. Wasn't the competition fierce?

If you go there, you should go to
Voodoo Donuts, one of the few places which makes vegan donuts, we are told. JK did not go vegan: he got the chocolate/peanut butter/Oreo donut and boy was he glad.

When we visited the Chinese Gardens in Portland, these carvings were next to the fountain. The guide told us some nonsense about what they translated to, but we came up with our own based on what they look like.

JK: A moose drug dealer(top) will visit a well-hung man who uses drugs and owes the moose money (next down). The moose will force the man to use the portable fire escape ladder to escape from his house and the angry moose drug dealer (next to last) because the moose will set it on fire in a rage and force everyone to leave (last). It's a Meth Lab Morality Play.

AD: It's a deer, telling a man who didn't take Viagra, nyah, nyah, nyah, and then the man works out at Gold's Gym. (The end of the story.)

What do you think it is?

Also in Portland was a small public art project where someone was tying toy horses to the old rings on the sidewalk. Someone else was stealing them, forcing the "artist" to write an angry letter and leave it next to one of the horses.

We also have two movies. The first is of the eruption of Old Faithful and the second is of a blast at Crazy Horse. We hope to get them posted by Sunday, but in the meantime here's a picture of an Army Man on duty at Crazy Horse.

Finally, a few political notes on our trip. I did remarkably well without my New York Times during the trip. On the last leg of our trip, I decided to get back into the swing of things with local newspapers.

The big issue in SD appears to be how the abortion ban affected local politicians during the primaries. A Republican state senator, Stan Adelstein, was narrowly defeated in the primary by a pro-life single-issue candidate. It was reported in the Black Hills Pioneer, a thin tabloid, that Sen Adelstein might switch to the Democratic party because the Democratic candidate, Tom Katus, offered to step aside if Sen Adelstein would run as a Democrat. Turns out that Sen Adelstein did not switch but will campaign for Katus. The local TV news reported that other Republican primary losers may switch parties.

In Iowa, there's a state constitutional crisis looming. The Legislature convened a special session to override the Governor Tom Vilsack's veto of a bill which limits the eminent domain power of the state. the major points are that 75% of an area has to be "blighted" before it can be condemned, the state can't seize property for a "business development", county officials have to approve any airport-related siezures and the state can't create "recreational" lakes via siezure, only drinking water sources. This appears to be remarkably bipartisan. Des Moines Register--a Gannett paper--had this story on the front page this morning.

That's all. We'll see you at the Comet on Tuesday.

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