Day 13: Men in Stone, Woman in Pain

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 8.25.10 AMI am writing this post from the comfort of a bed at the Buffalo Inn located, where else, Buffalo, Wyoming.  I have to start of this post informing my dear readers that I have succumbed to physical ailment I didn’t see coming.  Sciatica.

Before I left Boston, I was religiously doing my stretches for my plantar fasciitis, that I thought would trip me up.  Ha!  That problem has been nothing compared to what took me down the past two days.

People, if you have never had sciatica, count your blessings.  I can tell you right here, right now that it is one of the worst kinds of pain.  And when your goal is to drive 11,000 miles, it is heartbreaking.

As I lie in bed this morning in tears, contemplating what my next move should be, a miracle occurred.  My phone lit up with a text from a dear friend, who psychically had felt my pain – physical and emotional – and she was checking in.  Somehow she knew the misery I was going through.  And by misery, I do not mean the physical pain.

I was crying mostly because I felt like a failure.  That I had come on this journey, and shared it with my friends – and through this blog, potentially anyone out there with a computer – and here I was stuck.  I was feeling so sorry for myself.  So embarrassed as well.  I felt like I had no one to blame for my condition, but myself.  I am overweight and out of shape and I felt so fucking stupid for getting myself all the way out here to Wyoming and now I was alone and in pain and looking at days of driving no matter what I decided.

I was in a dark, dark space.

But then, Julie texted.  And I immediately called her and she talked me off that cliff and helped me realize that sciatica can happen to even people in the best of shape and that this is just one part of the journey.  She told me to stop blaming myself because that shit don’t help, and to make a plan to lay low for a few days and re-coup.

So, that dear reader, is what I plan on doing.  I have short drive (3 hours) to Cody, Wyoming, where I have an Airbnb for the night and I plan on finding a massage therapist and just taking it easy on myself for a few days.

As Steinbeck said, you don’t make the journey, the journey makes you.  And wise Julie said, that this happened for some reason yet to be revealed.  Perhaps, this delay is saving me from another peril or it is leading me to a place that I have yet to imagine.

Whatever the case, I have to listen to my body at this point and take a break from all the driving.  So, if you want to reach me, I’ll be in Cody, Wyoming for a few days trying to figure out my next move.

As for my travel journal, yesterday, was a blurry day of sightseeing with a tons of tourists.  I was in Keystone, SD, and so one had to go see Mt. Rushmore.

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Mt. Rushmore is an interesting place.  Besides the hoards of tourists snapping selfies and eating ice cream, there is a history that is so American and so fucked up that I found myself laughing at some points.

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I had spent the $6 for the audio tour – something few do – and listened to the history of how Gutzon Borglum (yeah, that’s his name, he was Danish) had been hired to create a monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Right on the face of one of the MOST SACRED places for the Lakota people.  But that didn’t stop a bunch of white guys on a mission.  Nope.

At first, the monument was to immortalize western heroes like Wild Bill and Lewis and Clark, but that got changed to important US presidents (Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln) and somewhere along the journey, Teddy Roosevelt got thrown into the mix (he was a friend of Gutzon’s).  One of the more interesting tidbits that I learned was that Gutzon was a mormon and married not only one woman, but her sister as well, and that he had studied in Paris under the tutelage of Auguste Rodin.  He was an interesting character and when he died, his son, Lincoln Borglum, took over the project to it’s completion.  His daughter also worked on the project.  A family affair.

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There were over 400 workers who blasted, chipped and carved the mountain into the shape you see today, and miraculously, no one died.  Pretty impressive when you think about the working conditions.

But to be completely honest, I was more interested in Mt. Rushmore because it is the location of the climax of one of my ALL TIME favorite movies, North By Northwest.  Thank you, Alfred Hitchcock.

After Mt. Rushmore, I drove the 20 miles over to see the Crazy Horse memorial.  The history behind this monument is even more interesting.  After Mt. Rushmore defaced the sacred mountain of the Lakota, one of their leaders, Chief Henry Standing Bear, decided that there should be an answer to the European-American pride, and so he sought out and hired a sculptor from Boston, of Polish decent, Korczak Ziolkowski, to sculpt a memorial to the great warrior, Crazy Horse.

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In fact, Korczak, had been working nearby on Mt. Rushmore, and was honored to be asked to in a way, right the wrong.  Korczak, his wife, Ruth, and their six children all worked as a team on the project, living on the site and expanding the original goal to now include a Native American museum, theatre, performance space, and the Indian University of North American.  Now, that is impressive.

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To this day, the project continues and expands and grows beyond the vision of Standing Bear and Korczak.  What a tribute to the spirit of healing and peace.  I was truly moved.

Later, a dancer, Pretty Flower, demonstrated the Lakotan “fancy shawl” dance that is performed at Pow Wow and other celebrations.  It was beautiful and informative as she included the history of the Lakotan people.  I wished I could have stayed more, but I needed to push on to Wyoming.

Driving was difficult, but somehow I managed to make it and was rewarded with a sunset over the Tetons.  ** Correction, not the Tetons!  My friend, Ben, told me that I would know the Tetons when I see them because they look like, well, Teet-tons.  When I commented that I had never seen teets that looked that perky, he replied, “well, they’re a young range.”  Touche!  ; ) **

And so, here I am.  Trying to heal from my journey and process all that I have seen and experienced.   Send healing thoughts because I have so much more that I want to do and see, but for now, I need to focus on getting my body to relax and heal.

More later.

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