Indian territory, or what should have been Indian,
that's what we've been through lately. Ranging from the South
Dakota plains, through the Black Hills and then to the last stand,
Little Big Horn. Then we entered the Big Sky country, where cowboy
hats and boots still are customary.
|Crazy Horse Monument, the
model and the real thing. The mountain in the background one
kilometer away, while the model is approx. three meters tall.
You can barely see the horse's head drawn into the mountain
side. Size matters.
Following Crazy Horse
The American Indian history is fascinating and tragic at the
same time. As most Norwegians we grew up with cartoons, books
and movies that romanticized the conflicts and relationship between
the white man and the red, sometimes referred to as savage, people.
Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were known names, but little more
Crazy Horse, whose name doesn't refer to a lunatic but to
a spirited soul, grew up in a time when the Indians were under
strong pressure to move into the reservations that had been
"given" them, thereby relying totally on the support
of the American government, since they would no longer be able
to hunt buffalo - or the American bison - which they depended
heavily on. Discovery of gold in the Black Hills - an area sacred
to the Sioux for centuries - brought more settlers and gold
miners, jeopardizing the treaty that gave the Indians the right
to the area. Completion of the railroad across the northern
prairie divided the great American buffalo herd in two, and
slaughter of whole herds at the time reduced the numbers, making
survival even more difficult for the Indians.
Then they discovered gold in Montana, and eager miners demanded
that the army protected them when they crossed Indian territory
to get there. When spiritual leader Sitting Bull and war chiefs
like Crazy Horse fled the reservations with more than 10000
of their tribesmen and -women, the army was sent out to force
them back. Some sources claim the order was given to trigger
a war and hence justify taking the land. The Sioux, Cheyenne
and Arapahos had all gotten enough of broken promises and left
in spite of orders, to go back to the life they once led on
the open prairie. What further upset the army was that the Indians
attacked settlers and forts set up along trails inside Indian
General George Armstrong Custer had been in charge of the
gold find in the Black Hills and was sent out to bring back the
Indians. His orders were to "act at his own discretion",
meaning he was more or less left to decide himself how he did
his job. With six hundred men he marched out with a minimum of
ammunition for the close range arms they carried and without the
sabers they normally would bring along for such an assignment,
believing the resistance he would meet would be scarce, and any
potential battle would be fought in a distance. When his scouts
reported a huge camp of Indians near the Little Big Horn river
- the pony horses alone where more than 15000 in numbers, he didn't
believe them and decided to attack.
More than 35 percent of his men were young, untrained immigrants
who barely understood English, and he was to be met by more than
2000 very experienced and extremely well motivated Indian warriors,
who were experts in close combat. Custer divided his men, and
when he finally realized the numbers he was up against, he sent
a message for help to the other regiments, but the Italian recruit
who brought the message didn't speak English very well. The result
was misunderstanding, and Custer was left alone on his little
hilltop, now called the Last Stand Hill.
An old Indian survivor of the battle said, "It was like
hunting buffalo in the good days, you could pick whichever you
wanted". Not a single member of Custer's closest command
survived, including Custer himself.
"They called this Custer's Last Stand, but who's last
stand was it really", said the Indian ranger who spoke about
the progress of the battle. After the battle, which is held to
be the greatest Indian victory in the 4-500 year Indian/white
conflict, the groups of Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho split up,
some going north into Canada, some hiding and some going back
to the reservation. It was the last time in history that such
a large group of free Indians were gathered. The white people
took over the land, leaving only small pieces to the Indians.
The prairie was lost, and the Buffalo effectively exterminated,
reduced from 60 million animals at the peak to a handful - a few
thousand that is - in state parks today.
Sitting Bull was later killed while being arrested, suspected
to be in charge of the Ghost Dance movement - a movement who gathered
to do ceremonies in order to bring back the good old days of the
open prairie with lots of game and no white man. Crazy Horse was
arrested as well, and killed when he supposedly tried to flee.
Both are regarded as two of the greatest heroes among the Sioux
and Cheyenne people. Crazy Horse was a fearless warrior who never
signed a treaty and never lost a battle, but also a leader who
always had the well being of his tribe as his first priority.
Sitting Bull was regarded a wise spiritual leader and the man
in charge in the Last Battle.
The vision I kept imagining when I was at the battlefield
was not the battle itself, but the sight of 10-15000 Indians with
their camps and ponies marching out of the Little Big Horn valley
into the Big Horn mountains, marching together for the last time.
It touched me deeply.
A monument in the Black Hills
|In Custer park, far far away
from the buffalo, I finally managed to get into a reasonable
cool and relaxed posing position.
In Sturgis the storms gave way for nice warm weather, but our
home made dinner were followed by a card game with beers and
whisky to it, so we had quite a hangover and opted for a slow
day. Historic Deadwood, one of the gold mining towns in the
Black Hills was our only goal for the day. To finance the restoration
of the historic center of the town, the state of South Dakota
has opened up for gambling again in the town, and today it makes
quite a income from slot machines and roulettes.
This was the town were Wild Bill Hickok was shot dead. The
killer was acquitted by the first jury, accepting his excuse
that Wild Bill had killed his brother. Later he was sentenced
to death though. The history is dramatic and close connected
to the Battle of Little Big Horn, since opening up the Hills
for gold miners were another blow against the treaties. The
town had a very bad reputation in the beginning, probably well
deserved, but finally it was civilized with the rest of the
States. We enjoyed the stay but steered clear of the gambling
After a very quiet night we left the next day for the famous
monuments in the area. Mount Rushmore, with presidents Roosevelt,
Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln carved out of the mountain,
was our first stop. It was almost as we didn't really want to
go there, filled up as we expected it to be with families taking
pictures of themselves in front of it. And that was exactly what
we saw. The monument is impressive in size though, but ten minutes
after arrival we were on our way towards the Crazy Horse monument.
When we got the monument in sight, we couldn't believe the dimensions.
Mount Rushmore was supposedly huge, but you can put all four
presidents into the face of Crazy Horse. And if it ever finishes,
the sculpture will be of Crazy Horse riding a horse, his right
arm stretched forward, and the height will be almost 200 meter,
making it the world's largest monument. The story behind it
is fascinating and impressive. The Indian leader Henry Standing
Bear, on behalf of all the chiefs in the area, asked the sculptor,
Korczak Ziolkowsky back in the forties if he would make a monument
of Crazy Horse on a horse from a mountain in Blackhills. Korzak
was very into the fate of the American Indians and said yes.
In the beginning he lived in a tent, and with the help of an
old BUDA air compressor he went to work. He started the BUDA
and climbed about 750 steep steps up to the top of the mountain,
often hearing the machine dying before he reached the top, went
down to restart it, and climbed up again.
At the most he climbed down and up nine times during a working
day. He was all alone, and having drawn and planned the whole
project he surely must have realized that with the speed he
was working, it would take several generations to finish the
work. Later he married and had seven children, living on a small
income until finally the project got public interest and they
started making money from visitors and donations. Twice he declined
an offer from the government to receive 10 million dollars for
the project, stating that he didn't want any state officials
controlling the project. To this day every dollar put into the
enterprise has come from the same two sources, donations and
the visitor center. When he died in the eighties, his wife and
kids continued the work, and the first physical feature of the
sculpture, the face of Crazy Horse, was ready only a couple
of years ago. A whole mountain will be reshaped by the time
the work is done, nobody dear give a date or a year, and the
area will be made into a university town focused on Native American
Chased by the American Bison
|Just after taking this picture,
we got the hell out of there, chased by an angry mother. "Why
didn't you shoot a picture of her?", I asked Bente, who
was holding the camera. She frowned.
Going through the Black Hills was much like driving through the
Norwegian countryside, and we looked forward to the Custer National
Park, where supposedly we would see the bison. There's very
few left of this once great herd of animals, and after a disappointing
start, we tried our best to call them forward. When we finally
got to see them, they were simply too close. Ahead of us a group
of cars had stopped to view forty odd animals close to the road.
We stopped at the rear end of the line and watched as one of
the drivers got out and started to pet a young calf.
We don't know much about these very impressive creatures, but
you don't have to be a animal expert to know that walking over
to a young calf when the mother is close by could be dangerous.
The bison is an extremely powerful, fast and sometimes angry
animal. We decided to get out of there, since we were the only
unprotected motorcycle around and were by now surrounded by
animals. I started up and drove very slowly between the cars,
not seeing a second calf hidden behind a RV - a campervan. We
scared it as it was crossing the road, and then, all of a sudden
we had a huge bison chasing us - probably the mother. She was
only meters away from us, and we barely escaped by giving full
throttle. Or barely is what it felt like. In reality I'm sure
the bison was only trying to scare us, or? We don't know what
intentions she had, but talking to rangers afterwards, they
have assured us that when we first got into the trouble, we
did wise in getting out of there. After this incident we were
a bit weary each time we saw a buffalo, and especially when
there were cars around. Weary is maybe a little vague, since
an ordinary cow managed to scare us a couple of days later.
|Howard to the right, forgot-his-name
to the left. Both gave directions as best they could. Forgot-his-name
wanted money to be taken pictures of, though, proving what
we suspected, he was there to play the role as a drunkard
in front of the old saloon - a role he played brilliantly...
We finally left Sturgis after three days, heading west towards
Yellowstone, but we decided to do a little detour down to the
Badlands. Badlands is a common name for many areas in
the States, and it basically means what it says - Bad Lands.
Rock formations have been trusted upwards from the ground and
eroded over millions of years. Nothing grows there and survival
was hard for settlers who tried to farm the land. But it created
a wonderful and impressive sight. Our little detour cost us
400 km extra driving that day.
The first stop was in Scenic, a little village and old trading
post in the middle of nothing, where the buildings, bars and
the old jail house was left unchanged since the turn of the
last century. Outside the closed saloon sat Howard. He didn't
live there, he told us, but was born and raised there. Why he
still came to Scenic to hang around the closed saloon, he didn't
tell us. We shared a cigarette with him and got recommendations
for roads to take into the National Park. A red skinned guy
in his forties, already well into the first bottle-in-a-paper-bag
of the day, joined in and persuaded me to come with him into
the grocery store next door where two older women drank coffee
and waited for the first tourist bus of the day to show up.
The guy left, and I felt obligated to buy a few post cards.
Bente told me later that when he exited the store he took out
a bottle of liquor from under his shirt and grinned. It was
a ghost town, and the two men fitted right in there.
After topping up the tank in Scenic - yes there was a gas station
there as well - we took off the main road and entered a rough
gravel loop road that gave us the best views of the rock formations.
We stopped every few kilometers to enjoy the scenery and take
pictures. It got more impressive as we got deeper into the formations,
and we truly understood why the Indians gave the landscape a name
that translated into bad lands.
|Badlands, a small man in a
vast and dry landscape
|Badlands, incredible formations.
We left the Badlands going westwards through the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation, a very long stretch of gravel roads. The road in
front of us went up and down, down and up, with no turns for many
many kilometers, and the only sign of life was the dust lifted
by oncoming cars. In the middle of this dry wilderness was the
little Cuny Table Cafe, run by Nellie, an old woman who had spent
her entire life out there in the nothingness.
|The Cuny Table Cafe. Nellie
the owner to the right, her sister in the back and a regular
to the left. In the center, the singing fish - a big hit.
We overheard her saying she didn't want to try a hot dog after
seeing how they made them on the television. Her grand children
travelled thirty miles or fifty kilometers to school every day,
and then back again. She served a delicious Indian Taco which
have found it's way to the guidebooks. We talked with them for
a while and listened to their singing fish, a big hit on TV shopping
After another hour or two on gravel roads we had a quick stop
in Custer for gas, then decided to get some mileage done. When
we came to Buffalo, Wyoming that night we had driven 740 km and
just beaten the rain. In the hotel room I had a look at the map,
and found that the Little Big Horn battle field were just north
of us into Montana. Bente agreed to wait with Yellowstone so we
could visit the site the next day.
Montana - the last frontier
|"Hey, is that a '46?".
Raymond Carr and his mechanic with Bente in front of the '39
Ford going around the world in 80 days. Check out the homepage
for more info: www.rcarr.org
The battlefield is little more than a low hill overlooking the
Little Big Horn river. But being there and learning the story
behind the battle, while overlooking the white markers set out
wherever a dead soldier was found, had its impact. I really didn't
want to leave the place, but rather just sit there and try to
imagine the sight of thousands of Indians down in the valley.
I almost felt stupid and childish up there, but couldn't help
it. While we were standing next to the bike an Englishman, around
fifty years old, stopped and asked about the bike and the trip.
We answered willingly for a while, not reading the text on his
college shirt. He marveled at our plans and finally we asked if
he was in the area for a short vacation. "No," he said,
"a short vacation is not exactly what I'm on, I work as a
mechanic on a 1939 Ford going around the world in 80 days in a
race with 43 other antique cars." Totally taken aback, we
just stared at him and asked simultaneously, "Are you serious?".
He certainly was, and took us over to the car. And there it was
with a big sign on each side. An old man came over as we were
speaking to the mechanic, and he said
"Hey, is that a '46? My uncle used to own one."
"No, it's a '39", answered the mechanic, adding, "Does
your uncle still have it?"
"No, stupid thing, he sold it a long time ago"
Then both men started laughing. We had just met the owner and
driver of the car, Raymond H. Carr, the oldest participant in
the race with his 76 years. He said to us,
"That's the way we meet people all the time. Everyone has
got an uncle or father who owned a similar car, but it's always
After learning about our trip he cheered and wished us a very
safe journey, a wish we returned after exchanging web addresses.
Eventually we got on our way and landed for the night in Billings,
a major city in the wide open and scarcely populated cowboy state
|Going south towards Livingston,
this barn went out of business a long time ago.
After two days in Billings, where we finally sorted out our iPass
connection subscription, allowing us to connect to the net wherever
we are, among other things we needed to do but had postponed,
we went north, passing through dry areas where a forest fire laid
the land desolated in the eighties. When we came over a pass in
the hills, we were astounded to see the vegetation was back in
green and lush colours, changing from desert like to fresh forests
just like that.
Repacking and thinking
We had by now covered more than 9000 kilometers of the trip,
and Rocinante was still not cleaned. Except for the little mishap
with possible bad fuel, she had run smoothly every minute. The
chain was drying out quicker than I thought, and I suspected I
had fed it too little oil from the Scottoiler the first few thousand
kilometers. Now I started overfeeding it for a while to be sure
it got enough. The engine had not used any oil, brake fluids were
topped, and so was the coolant. The tyres started to show signs
of wear, and the rear was acquiring a square shape from all the
long days on the great plains. We had moved the luggage around
a bit, trying our best to get the center of gravity forward on
the bike. This meant all books, connection cables for the cyberspace
tools, all mechanical tools and water bottles had gone into the
tank bag and tank panniers. Two soft bottle holders were attached
to the front panniers, just touching my knees with the bottles
inside. The tank bag was awfully heavy, but for the moment we
carried six books, a number which would be reduced to four on
the next leg. The spare parts hidden behind the fairing will require
redoing, though. Putting wheel bearings in thin plastic bags wasn't
such a good idea. Now the bags have torn open at sharp corners,
water have entered and as a result there are signs of rust in
there. Heavy duty bags and a lot of grease will hopefully do a
|A back road led us from Livingston
to Big Timber through a fantastic little valley. This is Montana!
And, as we learned later, this was the area where they shot
the Robert Redford movie The Horse whisperer, a major contribution
to our love affair with this state..
After five weeks on the road we were getting used to travelling
again. The hours in the saddle were getting longer as our bodies
adjusted to riding again. The stock seat borrowed from Kevin in
Midland is the limiting comfort factor at the moment, but plans
have been made on the Corbin factory to rebuild the seat for free.
Terry, a fellow Tiger owner in the Corbin area, is taking the
seat over to the plant for us, then we will get it shipped to
a future destination, or wait until we get down there, depending
on how long it will take. Doing long distances each day is anyway
getting easier, and although we don't have to - we are already
going at a daily average far beyond what we need - it's good to
know we can get a thousand kilometers in a day if we want to.
Where are all the dual sport tourers? They're certainly not here,
or anywhere we've been. So far on the trip we've met thousands
of Harley and almost as many Gold Wings, at least half of them
towing trailers. The average age on the couples riding the Wings
must be in the late forties. They ride along in slow motion, often
wearing only a open helmet and regular street clothes. The size
of the people often match the size of the Wings, making the whole
setup weigh the same as a small car. Most of the riders are not
trying to approach us, and a short nod while walking past us in
a rest area is as close as they come. The same goes for the Harley
riders, except that many of them don't nod back, even if they're
three meters away looking me straight in the eyes when I greet
them. As I have said before, it both annoys and humors me. Dual
sports motorcycles and long distance tourers are non existing.
Once we saw a guy riding a BMW dual sport wearing the same Aerostich
suit as we are. I tried to wave and stop him, but we had just
stopped and was hidden from him by a RV. We're getting kind of
desperate to meet other two wheel travelers that will talk to
us and share stories and experiences. Where are you guys?
The worst thing about going through the States before heading
south is the demoralizing warnings everybody gives us regarding
any place "south of the border". "Mexico!!! Let
me give you one advice: Get through there as fast as you can,
like an express train. Don't stop for anything but gas and food.
They're all bandits!". Sometimes advises like this get to
us, even though we were prepared for the average American's fear
of the other side of the border. Being hammered with disbelief,
horror stories and warnings almost every day makes it hard not
to take some of it in. It doesn't help much that the only motorcycle
guidebook in our tiny library, "Going South" by Dr.
Gregory Frazier - an otherwise useful source of information -
tells us about daily death scenes along the roads mixed with illness
and whatever bad things you can imagine. I tell my self time and
again that these stories must be exaggerated. If accidents are
that frequent, I'm surprised there are people left in Latin America.
Livingston, a lively little cowboy town
|Finally I got a picture in
which Bente wears a Stetson with a smile. Mountain Mike placed
it there, the hat that is.
After going zig zag on gravel back roads around the Crazy Mountains
we landed for a long rest in Livingston, a small and attractive
town along the Yellowstone River, only a short ride away from
Yellowstone National Park. It was Thursday, and the Livingston
Roundup, a three day rodeo festival ending on the 4th of July,
USA's Independence Day, started the coming Sunday. We had read
the town was quite a place to enjoy the nightlife, so after getting
settled in the most centrally located motel so far on the trip,
we went to the Winchester Cafe for some live music. Cowboy hats
and boots dominated the place, and we quickly started to like
the atmosphere, backed up by a three man band playing everything
from country to western music. We sat in the far end of the bar,
drinking Guinness and Moose Drool - a local beer a little closer
to a stout than the average American water-with-gas-Bud-like beer.
After a little while a guy in his forties, with a week old beard,
Stetson Hat and the typical high heeled boots, walked over and
said casually in a deep voice, "This seat ain't taken is
it?", and sat down next to Bente. For the next half hour
or so he drank three Buds and looked straight ahead, making no
effort to start a conversation. Finally Bente commented the music
and he broke up in a smile, a scar on his upper lip shining at
us. After the introduction - his name was Mountain Mike, grounded
18 wheeler who got his name because he lived in the mountains
of Idaho - we were buddies for the night, and I smiled at my first
misconception of him. He had just arrived in town after a long
day's ride to surprise his mother on her birthday the next day.
He spoke warmly of her and the rest of his family, and both of
us liked his tuned down appearance and soft talking.
A young man at the other end of bar, surrounded by quite a few
up and coming Englishmen was waving a huge Nikon F5 professional
camera, making me curious of who he was. If you wave a camera
worth several thousand dollars around in a public bar at night
and leave it on the bar unattended, then you're either stupid,
you have a lot of money or you are a professional with a good
insurance and three more cameras in your bag. The next thing I
knew the guy was behind the bar as well, serving drinks and topping
up the guests as well as the two bartenders, who were getting
more and more pissed as the night grew older. My curiosity got
to me and I grabbed him and asked him about the F5. He presented
his card, "Lord Guilford" it said, "Professional
photographer". I almost started laughing. Being from a country
where titles are long gone and the only people left to use them
is the royal family, it was kind of weird to meet a guy in his
mid to late twenties who introduced himself as Lord. He told us
that his gang of friends, 17-18 all together, were staying at
a wonderful farm around Yellowstone for a while, just having fun.
One of his friends came over after hearing about our trip. He
introduced himself and told us about his own trip, from New York
to Brazil on a BMW motorcycle in 1995. His name escaped me unfortunately,
but it was interesting to hear about his experiences. At one o'clock
in the night we said enough is enough and headed for bed, going
in a not so straight line the fifty odd meters down the street.
Since we needed one day for laundry and planned one day for Yellowstone,
we opted for the laundry the next day, taking things very slowly.
|Elk is an animal somewhere
between a deer and a moose. These two were resting in the
Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. [Large
Yellowstone was the first area in the world to be declared a
national park. The mountainous area is an ancient volcano, enormous
in size. After the third major outburst some 700 000 years ago,
the mountain collapsed and formed a region with lots of geysers
and hot springs. The caldera - the boundary of the collapsed mountain
- is several miles wide and hosts a multitude of wildlife including
buffalo, elk, deer, black bear, grizzly bear, coyote, prairie
dog, wolf and many more. Each year people get killed in the park,
either colliding with big game or getting too close to them when
curiosity and stupidity or ignorance takes over. Just today we
learned about a death accident. Two people on a motorcycle died
when they hit a tree after trying to avoid a deer or elk crossing
the road. When we entered the park, we did so with much apprehension
due to our earlier near miss with the buffalo in Custer Park.
To tell the truth we were scared, quite simply, and at the first
sight of a cluster of cars in the middle of nowhere we pulled
over. And our suspicion proved right, a huge male buffalo, wandering
on his own as most males do during the summer season, walked slowly
between the cars, ignoring them all together. We were a little
close, so I positioned the bike on the road shoulder next to a
car so that he wouldn't get too intimate. We couldn't help it,
the heart rate went up as he got closer, but then he turned to
his right and disappeared into the woods. We saw quite a few lonely
males that day, but all of them seemed totally ignorant of people
and soon we travelled with more confidence.
|Yellowstone's Grand Canyon
with the Yellowstone River running through it.
The park was badly hit by a forest fire in 1988, and the damage
was still evident. Dry and burned down trees covered whole hill
sides, changing a - again - Norwegian forest landscape to a desolate
area. We drove past lots of hot springs and the roads were a blast,
if it hadn't been for all the cars, RVs and buses going in slow
motion. Slow motion was really fine with us after all. With all
the big game in the area I preferred driving close to the car
in front of me and let him take the potential confrontation. At
another cluster of cars, we finally got to see a black bear. Two
bears, possibly only one year or two old, were roaming around
the hillside just fifty meters off the road. Again we were surprised
and shocked by peoples reactions. From the car in front of us,
a guy exited with a camera in his hand, starting to hike up towards
the bear. The mother was nowhere in sight, but they can move very
fast over shorter distances, so what in the world was he thinking.
Was it really worth getting a close up picture of a bear, when
that could possibly be the last memory his family would have of
him. Maybe the photo could be placed on his coffin, saying "Brian's
The park also has a spectacular Grand Canyon, which the Yellowstone
River pours into from the lake by the same name. The views were
breathtaking and the colours on the canyon walls were yellow,
giving the name to the park. An earthquake some years ago took
part of the pedestrian viewpoints and blew them down into the
river, so today the viewpoint is moved back fifty meters. We ate
a lunch in one of the many park malls, feeling rather stupid since
what we should have done was bring along food to eat in a more
picturesque spot along the road. After a northern circle we left
the park again, keeping the option open to come back at a later
The Livingston Roundup
|The Livingston Parade, kicking
off the Roundup rodeo festival, had a lot of horses and cowboys
Each year a three day rodeo is held in Livingston, ending on
the fourth of July. It kicks off with a parade on the second,
and we watched it for one and a half hour. It was probably the
longest parade both of us had seen, beating the never ending carnival
parade we saw in Mexico a few years ago. Horses were in the center
of most of the parade, unsurprisingly, and we saw more cowboys
than ever before. Then there was the company PR elements and the
politicians campaigning for themselves, the Roundup beauty queen
contestants, the clowns, the antique cars, the trial bikers, judo
fighters, scouts troops and lots of children. And in the middle
of all this came a woman in a traditional Norwegian dress, holding
a banner that said "Sons of Norway". The club is from
Big Timber and is very proud of its Norwegian heritage. Following
her was a banner saying "Leiv Erikson welcomes Lewis and
Clarke". Lewis and Clarke were two explorers that were the
first to map this area. It is probably stretching Leiv Erikson's
adventures to claim that he came this far west, but then again
it was most likely not serious meant. Bente shouted "Heisann
Norge" to the woman as she passed us, but she stared blankly
at us, not understanding the words.
Later that evening we went to our first rodeo, where they performed
a multitude of hair raising events, like bare back riding - ride
a horse without the saddle while the animal tries it's best to
throw you off, the rider is laying stretched horizontally with
his head banging up and down with such force that the word whiplash
kept ringing in my head; bull riding - where the shear tempo in
the bulls bucks and twists makes it completely incomprehensive
why the rider isn't thrown off immediately and stamped to death;
steer wrestling - where the big guys rides out of the starting
pit chasing a steer, then jumps at him and wrestles him to the
ground; team roping - where one guy catches
|Bare back riding on bucking
horses. Certainly some of the courageous riders got whiplash
injuries from it.
a steer with his lasso, then the next guy catches the back legs
lasso, a throw that demands a lot of precision and
timing, calf roping (or whatever it's called) - where one guy rides
out and catches the calf with his rope, jumps off the horse and
ties up the back legs while his horse keeps a straight rope, sometimes
done in a matter of seconds. All in all it was very impressive.
What wasn't impressive was the commercial breaks during the show.
Every fifteen minutes the rodeo would stop and the main sponsor
would have a few minutes where we were told why we should buy just
that product. Each time one of the contestants for the Roundup beauty
queen would ride around the arena with a sponsor banner. When we
left, we certainly agreed never to buy that unmentionable product.
Then there was the clown who stayed in the arena during the whole
show, telling jokes of varied, although sometimes good, quality,
like when a bull wouldn't leave the arena after throwing off his
rider; "Do you know the similarity between that bull and president
Clinton? No? We let him in here and now we can't get rid of him...".
Now we're having the luxury of living on a ranch for a few days,
going horseback riding in the Paradise Valley close to Yellowstone
NP and grilling salmon on the terrace. What a tough life we're
living. More about that later.