Monday, June 17, 2013

Hotel Vagabond

"Adventure is out there!" is a quote from an average Disney movie that I took to heart anyway.  The movie was "Up" and the quote originated from a scene in the movie where the hero of the film was having a flashback to his childhood.  He worshiped an Indiana Jones/Howard Hughes like figure from the 30's that had escapades and adventures from South America and the young boy wished to emulate him.  The reason the quote "adventure is out there" resonated with me so well as a 36 year old man was that it completely confirmed what I already knew.

Adventure IS out there.

Understand the average American yutz sits on his or her ass watching HGTV, going to the gym, eating at Applebee's, and maybe daring to have the audacity to get "hammered at Champs" if they really want to get risque. But none of them leave their 40 mile urban/suburban protective radius and try to explore things.  They plug in, day in, day out, their regular crappy boring lives, never daring to explore or do something different, almost as if they're giving a proverbial finger to god or whoever gave them this shot at life.

God - "Hey, I gave you life.  And not only "life" but like human life.  So you aren't like a worm or a tick whose life is going to be really boring and suck, you get to be the most intelligent and advanced creature on the whole freaking planet.  So what are you going to do with this amazing gift?"

Typical American -"Well, I thought I'd piss it away. I'm going to go do what everybody else is doing and go to college, get a mind-numbing career, have kids I can barely afford, get a divorce and not discern myself or make this one great opportunity you gave me unique.  No, I'm going to just piss it away like everybody else watching reality TV shows."

And thus they waste their one precious life.

However if one were to ever just go on an adventure and "go where no man (or very few) have gone before," they might discover some things.  And not only would they discover things, but they would discover them quite easily.

If anything has been shocking to me in my adventures it has been the ALMOST NEAR GUARANTEE I would find something interesting if I just walked off the beating path.  For example, most people drive ALONG SIDE ON THE PERFECTLY MANICURED ROAD of the Badlands National Park never daring to walk more than 10 feet from pavement..  I "dared" to hike 500 yards in and found machine gun shells from when the park was a pre-WWII bombing/testing range not to mention a fair amount of fossils. 

People always go agate hunting where the POSTED SIGN SAYS "AGATE RESERVOIR" where I have the




idea to look outside the reservoir and find(I'm not kidding you) a $3,000 agate from a place NOBODY ever thought agates were.

And while most people are going to the hip clubs and bars, I was able to find the old 50's/60's lounges where the original pianist still plays at the piano bar, the original clientele celebrates their 50th wedding anniversary and martini's are cheap and bountiful because the lounge doesn't have a mortgage to cover because they paid it off back in 1977 and can still made decent profit charging $4 for a martini.

But the best discoveries you will have are not finding cheap drinks at old lounges, WWII casings, or precious agates.  It will be other unique and interesting people.  And thus, why I bring up "Hotel Vagabond."

Find as many agates as you want.

Find as many fossils as you want.

Find as many lost Ute Indian archeological finds you want.

The truest and most interesting discovery comes from finding new and interesting humans.

I was already blessed on this trip with meeting the WWII sniper, but let me tell you another gold mine the milquetoast, cookie cutter, SWPL, Eden Prairieite, Applebee's going crowd will never experience - the colorful group of clients at the Skyline Motel.

The Skyline Motel is when I like to stay when in the southern end of the Black Hills.  The reason is simple - it's cheap.  It also happens to be closer to the agate beds I like to scour and thus to make the most of my vacationing dollar and vacationing time I stay at least a couple days here.

However the Skyline Motel is off the beaten path.  Both physically and financially.  It is in Hot Springs, arguably the farthest southern town in the Black Hills and thus not a lot of tourists come here.  It is also VERY cheap (cheapest in the Black Hills) and thus you get not only some shady, but colorful characters.  THere isn't a year that doesn't go by where there isn't some kind of crime or ballyhoo, but at the same time this motel, in part because it allows monthly rentals, attract a lot of free spirits from across the west.  A plurality of the clientele are older men in retirement looking to get away and live on the cheap.  And while disheveled in appearance, it is merely a ruse for they too are explorers, wanderers and adventurers.

For example you see a bunch of drunks pounding down 40 ouncers.  But what you don't see is the two vets (and one economist) who are happier than pigs in mud.  You don't hear the stories they have and interesting lives they've lived and the wisdom they impart.  You also don't see the math and finances (these guys are set for life).  And you didn't see what they did that day (I returned from a near 300 mile motorcycle ride, these two, and some other old timers at the motel, fired up the grill and had burgers and hot dogs).

It only a person with a keen eye who might pick up the smile or the gleam in their eye and realize their lives have not only been fuller, but they are happier.  But let me tender another bit of evidence as to how looks are deceiving.  This is the room of one of the guys.

I didn't want to take more pictures so as not to violate the man's privacy, but the place was immaculate. He has the set up.  Just a small one bedroom hotel with his sitting chair, his TV, his car pictures and all he needs.

Regardless, hanging out with these old timers, listening to their stories, watching them interact and give each other guff (they're like a crass version of Matthau and Lemon) all under the glow of an old school 1940's red neon light (see below) is a thousand times the discovery that will ever be made at your local sports bar.  All one has to do is step outside their front door and keep walking.  The people, things and adventure will find you.

THis post sponsored by "Enjoy the Decline" and Amazon.  Help the Captain avoiding working a real job keep the adventures up.  Buy his book or buy your wares through Amazon.


Unknown said...

You ought to see some of the characters who live on their boats in the Pacific Northwest.

SDH said...

You look like you're drinking a quart of Colt 45.

You always meet the most interesting people in the most remote places, hope you keep having a blast.

(and get a haircut...hippie)

Captain Capitalism said...


No way maaaaan! Like, you're just part of the government military industrial complex maaaan. Like trying to bring me down maaaaan! Like this hair is my way of experssing myself and fighting against all that is wrong with the world, so like back off maaaaan!

Tim said...

Film these guys talking for 90 minutes and you might have an art house hit on your hands.

Unknown said...

I haven't seen Up since it came out years ago. Wasn't too big on the character designs and it wasn't as great as other Pixar movies, but it was a pretty good movie nonetheless.

I like how you were able to take a single line from the whole film and turn it into such an insightful blog post. It's great that you're able to travel so much too.

Lots of people mindlessly waste time and money on the most stupid of stuff, like the reality shows you mentioned. I had a similar experience going to see Man of Steel over the weekend. The theater was jam packed, but the film itself was full of cliches, exposition problems, dumb flashbacks, and just too much style than substance. Full of the kinds of people that sit at home and watch HGTV too.

The Phantom said...

Tim, only if they were gay.

BBanks said...

Great story! Another example of what one will discover if they let go of the 'fear' that is propagated daily thru media and 'schools' of thought.

Dreamer said...

I need to ask, as you speak SWPL liberals and linking to the Reality HGTV watching, 40 mile life crowd. Where I live, the none HGTV/go-more-than-40 miles types are pretty common and it seems to fit your advice. But much differently than your examples.

They would avoid or even dismiss the Skyline Motel people as a bunch of boring hicks (which ironically also justify as never travel more than 40 miles and kill time watching reality TV). Yet, they don't waste their time going to Applebee's and watching HGTV. Maybe there's none in your state, but can you picture those types who go to hobbies/classes after work and travels overseas. Those types who volunteer to Africa (who are a subset, many others just backpacks through Europe or something) and etc? Any thoughts on those types?

I ask because this is not the first time I hear similar advice. Just that in the past I hear this from liberal-type people with their stories as I described above. This is kinda the first from a conservative perspective.

Anonymous said...

Cappy, just a word of advice. I know you're using different themes to keep your readers engaged and visiting this blog, but I wouldn't encourage others to follow your lead on things you really enjoy unless you want a horde joining and then wrecking the experience.

My main love is trout fishing and unless you're a very close friend there is no way in hell I'm ever going to share my favorite spots with you or teach you how to be a better trout fisherman if you'll be doing it in my area. I want less people getting in my way, not more!!

Captain Capitalism said...


Those types are spoiled little brat westerners living on either their parents' or governement's dime spouting off leftist indoctrinated drivel they were fed in school.. They are not old enough nor experienced enough to come to the epiphanies I have, let alone the aged veterans have. In other words our conclusions may be the same, but they couldn't explain why other than "it's the system maaaaannn!"

Or a simpler way of putting it, when the SHTF, who do you want on your team?

A crew of douchebag 23 year old grad students


men and my crew of drunken old men?

Tam Arax said...

Nice story. Reminds me of some of the colourful characters to be found at the Gold Range Hotel (AKA...the Strange Range) in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. And strangely enough, the Strange Range had one the best breakfasts to be had in Yellowknife.

And once at this place in Skagway, she did....oh wait, that's another story!!!

chris Muir said...

Jack Kerouac wished he could be you.

Unknown said...

"They are not old enough nor experienced enough to come to the epiphanies I have...."

Cap, if you ain't seen 65, you ain't seen no epiphanies.

Anonymous said...

I've stayed at the Skyline Motel, back in the late 60's on a family vacation. Doesn't appear to have changed much.

Captain Capitalism said...


Your condesending tone is almost starting to irk me.

Just know your years are nothing compared to my mileage.

Don't give me this "age is wisdom" shit.

Experience and suffering is.

And unless you were a combat veteran and suffered some serious shit, shove it up your ass.


Bikerdad said...

For example you see a bunch of drunks pounding down 40 ouncers. But what you don't see is the two vets (and one economist) who are happier than pigs in mud.

No, what I see is a bunch of people wasting their crappy lives and killing brain cells. Oh, you're NOT wasting your lives? You're offended that somebody might say such a thing? Then WTF ("where", not "what") do you get off making the charge that the couch potatoes watching HGTV and hitting Applebee's are wasting their lives?

It is onanistic arrogance of this sort that pisses me off, regardless of where it comes from on the social/political spectrum. But to hear it from the libertarian side, where in theory each individual gets to pursue happiness in the fashion THEY deem appropriate? 'Tis sickening.

Of course, the fellow who is happy with the "wasted life" of HGTV and suburbia must be suffering from some sort of false consciousness, right? Because there's no way he's actually happy....

Captain Capitalism said...


The imbibing occurred after I did a 300 mile motorcycle ride through the Black Hills, the sergeant had done his daily chores around the motel and the lieutenant spent the day fishing.

We didn't just drink all day.

BikerDad said...

300 miles? Sounds like a good morning ride. What did you do in the afternoon? :p

Or... a REAL adventurer would have done 300 miles AFTER pounding down 40 ounces of a man's booze, whiskey! And then he would go slap some buffalo balls. Not sat around fishing and drinking watered down fermented bread. Sounds like y'all were just wasting your lives.

Enough chop-busting though, that's a great pic you got of your ride, the lighting just makes the shot work. Is that a liter bike or a supersport?