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