by Liz Jansen
This week my motorcycle has taken me from the wilds of Northwestern Ontario to the Black Hills of South Dakota. What a ride!
An old-fashioned country jamboree capped off my visit with friends in Fort Frances. The brainchild of local organizers, Mud Lake City is a collection from times gone by, from old buildings filled with artifacts to old vehicles in various states of decay. A stroll through the rural site is a walk through local history, and an ideal site for neighbors from far and near to gather and jam. To top it off, the shuttle back to our car was a sputtering 1927 Whippet that died just as we stepped off. After helping to push it off the road where it was blocking traffic, we left the proud owner to tinker and get it running again.
The next two days of riding took me zigzagging across the corner of Minnesota, skirting a bit of North Dakota before entering South Dakota. How glorious to ride across the plains under wide-open blue skies, through terrain ranging from glacial lakes to beef farms, and endless acres of crops, many with huge combines harvesting the bounty and transferring it to waiting trucks.
It was a delight to stay on backroads in excellent condition, where the speed limit is still 65 mph. I spent very little time on Interstates until the end of the second day when the temperature was 35C/95F and I just wanted to reach my destination.
Two points of interest that got me off my bike were the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead and schoolhouses, and the world’s largest pheasant in Huron South Dakota. Dedicated on October 18,1959, it’s a testament to the state’s plentiful pheasant population.
The destination for this week was Hill City, SD, home to Ed McGaa, aka Eagleman, acclaimed Lakota/Sioux leader and author of at least 10 books on Native Spirituality. He works at Crazy Horse Memorial during the summer, and it was there I had the honor of meeting him in person. We’d communicated via email and he offered to let me camp on his property.
Although I’ve been to Crazy Horse in 2003, it was again thought-provoking to return for an immersion of the Native history of the area, especially given the theme of this journey.
Prayer to the Great Spirit
Oh Great Spirit Giver of all life,
You have been always and before you nothing has been
Look and smile upon us your children
So that we may live this day to serve you
Watch over my relatives, the red, black, white and brown
Sweeten my heart and fill me with life this day
Give me strength to understand and the eyes to see
Help me Great Spirit, for without You, I am nothing.
Paul War Cloud
Finally, here’s a video of my campsite, complete with a trout stream which produced our meal for the evening. Watch for more on my interview with Ed McGaa.