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.

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