It’s kind of a little brother thing.
I’d remind David Mark that Mother said not to go past Archie Moore’s bottom field. He’d be over the fence and almost to the pond before my echo faded away. I was six months shy of being two years older… so naturally I had to shinny over that fence and go after him!
We were just boys. I didn’t necessarily feel responsible. But if he got into trouble, so did I. And please understand, he wasn’t trying to rebel or show out or let me know he was tougher than me (which he was). He just was almighty interested in what might be over the next hill.
“Dave, slow down! It’s getting late – “
“Shoot, there is plenty of light; if we go through the woods and up over that rise I believe we can see the railroad tracks.”
When he turned sixteen I was afraid to get in the car with him. I wasn’t worried about his driving; it was where we might end up! Mom would send us to the grocery store for bread and milk. He might decide to drive out the Shiloh Road, around by the golf course and return to town down Highway 22.
Sometimes we’d be almost back to the house and he’d spot an out of county license plate. He’d follow after them, like it was some spy versus spy thing, until he was satisfied their business was on the up and up.
We drank a lot of warm milk back in those days.
One time he drove 13 miles to Trezevant to pick up some Gulf Wax so Mother could finish canning strawberries. We buzzed right past four grocery stores. Someone said the water down at Jarrell Switch Bottom was over the road. Dave was “bound and determined” to see for himself.
If you are lucky enough to have a little brother, you understand those itchy feet….
He called a week and a half ago, “Hey, I’ve got a real good deal on airline tickets, you up for a trip.”
“Where are we going?” I’m thinking Yellowstone National Park. Or maybe the Grand Canyon. I bet the Oregon coastline would be delightful this time of ye–
“Rapid City, South Dakota.”
No wonder he got a good deal on THOSE tickets!
“What’s in Rapid City?”
“I don’t know, but aren’t you interested in going out there and finding out! It’s in the Black Hills. There’s Deadwood, Lead, Keystone and Mt. Rushmore. And the best thing is… it’s next to Wyoming!
We didn’t make it to Mt. Rushmore. We drove directly to Uncle Louie’s Diner in Sturgis. They have a deal there if you can eat a six-pound hamburger and the mountain of fries it is sitting on in 30 minutes the meal is free, as is the accompanying t-shirt.
I was unlimbering my belly until I found out that although many, many people have taken the challenge, NONE had finished in the allotted time. I talked to some really nice guys about the differences between the Softail Standard Harley-Davidson and the Deluxe model and ate my salad in relative silence.
We did see Lead and Deadwood. It was easy to understand why the Black Hills were sacred to the Indians. And we crossed the Belle Fourche River 106 times. Just trying to get to Wyoming!
The Devil’s Tower welcomed us into the Cowboy State. And you talk about wide open spaces! They’ve got more cows than people out there. And I think all parties are OK with the arrangement.
Of course, David kept us off the interstates. He avoided most any road that actually had traffic on it. Or places to eat.
He found Arvada, Wyoming, fairly easily I thought for a place so off the beaten path. He had read about it in a Longmire book. It was on the bank of the Powder River. The sign read “Population 25.” It was the most optimistic marker I’ve ever seen.
Suffice it to say, the place wasn’t a tourist trap.
We ate at the Busy Bee Café in Buffalo where Walt Longmire always orders the “usual.”
We arrived in Kaycee (pop. 267) during Chris LeDoux days. Our whole trip stalled for an hour as we were met by 558 sheep being herded down the middle of the highway!
We studied the Johnson County War. We huddled inside Fort Phil Kearny. We got eye level close to the Box Wagon fight and the Fetterman Massacre. We spent a day driving down a dirt road to get to Fort Reno.
We saw Wyoming’s Thunder Basin from the inside out. And stood on top of Scotts Bluff and viewed Chimney Rock 23 miles away.
What a trip!
But I wasn’t a bit surprised. Or caught off guard. David Mark has been taking me on these things since 1951.
Little brothers can also capture your heart…