Doug and Laurel Go West

Day 1: Sunday 6/29/2003

12:30 PM
Odometer: 2.23 miles
Village Inn, Cedar Falls

Mikumi was sick this morning. We took him to the vet, and he needs to have a tooth pulled. Elyssia will have to pick him up in two days and bring him home. Laurel and I feel very sorry and neglectful.

We are having breakfast at the Village Inn, thus violating my pledge of Economy ten minutes into our trip, although I don’t know if this counts or not – has the trip started yet? Laurel just informed me that our friends Jeff and Kristie have a bet about how long it will be before we sleep in a hotel. “Don’t take this as a challenge,” said Laurel. What, has she been sleeping with a stranger all these years? Of course I take this as a challenge. “Now Doug,” she says, “don’t be too sure, you don’t know what is going to happen.”

“Sure,” I respond. “I don’t know what is going to happen. But I know what will not happen. I’m not going to sprout wings and fly, you aren’t going to get super powers, and I am not going to sleep in a hotel.”

9:00 PM
Odometer: 405.7 miles
Lake Mitchell, South Dakota

9:00 PM
Odometer: 405.7 miles
Lake Mitchell, South Dakota

We have a very kindly veterinarian who was excited that we were going to South Dakota, and told us that we should ignore our pride and go to the Corn Palace. He didn’t use those words, he said it more kindlyly. Tomorrow morning, Laurel and I will join the international community of pilgrims who have seen said Corn Palace.

“We did not bring any Spam,” Laurel just noted, as I stole a slice of salami destined for our red beans and rice. The propane stove makes a loud hissing noise. I wonder how long a canister of propane lasts. Perhaps we should go with charcoal briquettes. We do have four canisters.

The sun is setting across Lake Mitchell. Fugalamug.

Every time Laurel says the word “Mitchell” I have to repeat “Mitchell!” in Tom Servo’s voice, because of a Mystery Science Theater episode we like. I’m compulsive in that way.

I’ve realized that if my brothers, sister and I went to Hogwarts, we would not all have been put in the same house like the Weasleys were. We would have been put into four different houses. – I take back my earlier “fugalamug”; this is turning out to be a nice sunset after all – So, Karen would be in Slytherin, Al would be in Gryffindor, Mike in Hufflepuff, and I would wind up in Ravenclaw. I’m sure that most of us would have been on the borderline of a few houses, but that’s where the sorting hat would have stuck us.

Laurel is not that impressed by the sunset either, not even by the moving impressionist painting of it that is the surface of the lake. Her mother lives on the bank of a gorgeous lake, which may explain her attitude. The sunset here is like a good Big Mac when you are hungry. It’s nice and satisfying, but you aren’t going to sit and write poetry about it.

I should be a writer. “The sun set like a good Big Mac”

Doug’s Camping Tip #1: Don’t try to be all Heroic; go ahead and buy a lot of chocolate bars before you go. (We didn’t. I wish we did.)

This trip is going to partially retrace the path my family took when I was a boy. That was supposed to be a camping trip, but my mom lived through one depression already and kept not seeing the point of “sleepin on the flaw.” We spoke before I left on this trip, and she expressed regret that we never camped.

Dear Ma,
Why were you worried about sleeping in a tent? You should have been worried about millions of ants coming out after sunset crawling all over your notebook when you were trying to write.

Damn ants.

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