Category Archives: philip

Wednesday 31st July 2019 – I’VE JUST BEEN …

… to one of the saddest places in North America. One of those that has been on my list for ;ore than 50 years.

It’s a place where a group of Native Americans, having surrendered peacefully to the American Army, were remorselessly butchered in cold blood by a crazed and demented American military bent on revenge. So out of their minds with savagery were the Americans that their artillery was firing point-blank into groups of people, totally mindless of whether there were their own troops intermingled in the crowd.

For this gallant act of bravery, in which between 150 and 300 Native Americans were butchered, the USA Government saw fit to award 20 Medals of Honour. These heroic tasks for which medals were awarded included citations for “conspicuous bravery in rounding up and bringing to the skirmish line a stampeded pack mule.”

The incident incited all kinds of comment, including this one from L Frank Baum, author of “The Wizard of Oz” – “… our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable (sic) creatures from the face of the earth”.

Having had a really good sleep last night, I was awake with the alarms and then cracked on with a pile of work, including uploading some of the outstanding photos onto the new laptop. Rosemary was on line too so we had a chat.

And in a new experiment I tried a small amount of coffee and surprisingly, that stayed in. But that was when I found the microwave – in a little communal kitchen that I had missed. Too late now to do much about that.

It was another glorious morning with hardly a cloud in the sky as I left Philip and climbed up into the hills at the back.

The drive was pretty uneventful from an excitement point of view but I passed through some glorious scenery very reminiscent of USA 2002 and I took dozens of photos of the landscape, attracting on a couple of occasions the attention of the farces of law and order.

My luck was in in Midland, South Dakota. There I found a convenience store that had something that passed by way of dry biscuits but also some vegan soups. I need to start eating again if I’m to keep going, although much to my surprise I’m feeling much more like it today and I don’t know why.

At Batesland I encountered a very pleasant young woman and her family in a petrol station who put me on the correct road for Wounded Knee and even invited me for lunch (which I suspect might have been a “paid-for occasion” but as it was a meat broth I declined.

One thing though about the USA is that I have found that most Americans on their own are very friendly and helpful and that’s certainly being pointed out to me again.

Eventually I arrived at Wounded Knee and spent an hour or so wandering around, chatting to a few people and taking some photos for others, and telling a guy on a Harley that he had just missed a Urals sidecar combo outfit roaring through the site. How many years is it since I’ve seen one of those?

But Wounded Knee is a very poignant place, although somewhat despoiled by Souvenir – or maybe I should say Sioux-venir stalls on the massacre site.

Heading north again, back through the beautiful Badlands there were more interesting places to see, like the town of Scenic, stuck in a time-warp since 1906 by the look of things although it’s owned – for reasons unknown – by a Filipino religious organisation.

Finding Rapid City was one thing. Finding a motel was quite another. The place is full of bikers, with some sort of biking rally taking place nearby. I drove for miles and miles and visited several motels before a tip from a very friendly motel manager sent me to the Gold Star Motel on the edge of the town where I grabbed one of the last available rooms.

It’s not cheap, but it’s here, and the light bulb blew as soon as I switched on the light.

But what do I care? I’m going to bed.

Tuesday 30th July 2019 – THIS PLACE …

… would be a really nice place to stay if I could afford it. But it’s the first motel that I’ve seen in 120 miles and it only had one room left so I didn’t want to take any chances.

Last night was a bad night and this morning I felt like death. I really could have stayed there a second night too but at that rate I’m never going to accomplish anything.

With last night’s protein broth not doing me any good at all (the remainder of the packet went down the sink this morning), I tried the porridge but half of that went into the bin. And as for my grape juice, well, I shan’t bore you with the gory details about that. But that was disappointing.

Eventually I managed to drag myself outside and into the car and staggered off to finish the rest of the James River trail. It didn’t take long and then I was back on my route again.

The first half was boringly flat as you might expect but things gradually started to warm up. I can particularly remember my elation when I saw a proper hill.

The lady Who Lives In The Satnav took me down some interesting roads and through some interesting towns, including one called Ventura which, had it not been for the cars in the backyards, would have been placed quite properly back in the 1880s

As the day drew on I started to hit the hills and that was comforting. A stop for fuel and a chat with the lady who ran the place, and then off again.

At about 16:00 I hit the big city of Pierre where I crossed the Missouri (the photo that I took was rubbish because there was nowhere to get for a good view) and entered Mountain Time, losing an hour.

But while I was stopped trying to find a good photo spec, I was passed by almost every police car in South Dakota (I seem to have crossed into South Dakota somehow without noticing it) with blue and red lights flashing, just like in some of these “bad river” films. They shot off up one road, came back down and shot off up another one. It made me realise that I’m not all that far from Keystone.

Now I’m really in the mountains. The foothills of the Black Hills of Dakota, following the trail (quite literally) of the old Deadwood Stage. It’s well-signposted with quite a few things to see from the 180s and 1890s.

Eventually I arrived at the township of Philip. A place which has two claims to fame, according to the motel owner. One is that the coldest temperature in South Dakota in modern times has been recorded here, and the second is that the warmest ditto.

It’s a one-horse town of course but with a huge cattle market, and smells like it too. I’m glad that it isn’t me, but I took a shower just the same to be sure.

The motel owner is very friendly and spent quite a while chatting to me which was nice, and later I went for a walk around the town – but that didn’t take long.

But now I’m exhausted. I had a huge wave of fatigue during the afternoon that I managed to fight off (just about) until I found my second wind. So even though it’s only 20:00 I’m off to bed on my rather springy mattress.

See you in the morning.