Presidents of Rapid City

Well, twenty-nine of them, at least. This post is from a series of articles chronicling a 2020 cross-country trip with my wife and two daughters and a boyfriend, from California to Ohio (to visit family) and Pennsylvania (to drop off my oldest daughter at grad school), and then back. We spent…

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Meeting Them at Mount Rushmore

You don’t see them at the mall because you only go to certain malls, if you go to malls at all. You don’t see them at work, if you go to work, because you do a certain kind of work. You don’t see them at the restaurants, at least not…

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The Trump Shop Bus

He was all but done for the day when we pulled into the gas station just outside of Spearfish, South Dakota, his "Trump Shop" bus all closed up for the night. Written on the bus were the words "not affiliated with the campaign." Some sort of backdoor PAC-based way to…

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What to think and feel about Devils Tower

When I was twelve I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind in a theater and I was amazed by the spaceships and by the musical tones and light display at the end. I was amazed as well afterward when I discovered that weird rocky tower where the aliens meet…

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Shell’s Secret

When we came down out of the mountains in July of 2004 we had no real idea of where we were. This was before the iPhone and navigation systems in cars. We were traveling across country, moving from the Washington, D.C. area to California, my wife and our two grade-school-age…

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Seventeen Views of Yellowstone

One family went all out and each of them, dad, mom, and two kids, wore full on industrial painting masks, black rubber face part with two large filter cartridges, looking like something from Word War I. They wore these as they walked the boardwalks around the geyser basins. You could only see their eyes and the parents' eyes looked out wide open, terrified.

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Fleeing the Flow

It could be worse. A few thousand years ago lava splashed and bubbled up out of the ground in what is now Idaho and spread out over six hundred and eighteen square miles. One single lava flow running about thirty miles long.

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At Dead Indian Pass

I pull off at an overlook in the mountains of northern Wyoming, my wife and youngest daughter in my FJ Cruiser, my oldest daughter and her boyfriend pulling in ahead of me in their Honda Element. As we are standing, stretching, starting to move toward the overlook and toward the…

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All Fossils Have A Story

A first visit to the John Day Fossil Beds, in the dried-out hills in eastern Oregon, is a surprise, the hills of banded red and yellow and black, pulp science fiction book covers made real. But another surprise awaits in these hills. The area is heavy with fossils and a…

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Climate Change In Color at the John Day Fossil Beds

When people think of Oregon they tend to think of rain, a sort of never-ending rain, over forty inches a year on average. But eastern Oregon is all but a desert, receiving a third of Portland's average, and some of Oregon really is a desert, with less than ten inches…

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