Mount Rushmore and the Red Dog Saloon
Mount Rushmore and the Red Dog Saloon
Which Way Is Left In Canada ?
By Chuck RitenouR
Chuck and Penny decided we'd leave right after the gig on Saturday night. We headed north on SD 44 west at about four in the morning. Bean and I had hoped that we leave in the middle of Sunday morning since she worked all night waiting tables. Chuck would have none of it and refused to split up again ( still angry about the speeding ticket). By 5 AM, we were headed west on Interstate 90. Every 10 miles or so, we saw a huge billboard saying "Stop In At Wall Drug". While Bean slept, Jim and I amused ourselves by counting the miles were between signs. It reminded me of South Of The Border as you travel down Interstate 95 from Virginia to Florida's east coast.
Wall Drug exit 110, loomed in front of us at about 7:30 on a beautiful sunny midwestern Sunday morning. I pulled in front of Chuck and Penny van and turned on the turn signal for the exit. Wall Drug was open for business ( I don't think it ever closed). It was the tourist trap of all tourist traps. It may have been the fatique from driving, Wall Drug was amazing. Western wear, Maps, food, free cup of ice water, everything you could think of except drugs. Outside was a huge "jackalope" Bean and I had our pictures taken riding it. I bought souvenirs for everyone I could think of at home and mailed them. I also bought myself a pair of Dingo bootes, I hadn't had a pair since high school.
The sun was high in the morning sky when we headed west again on Interstate 90. We had planned another detour. Keystone was to be our next stop. Mount Rushmore and the Custer National Park were waiting for us.
Pictures do not do justice to Mount Rushmore. It is just too amazing to be caught on film. We did the tourist thing. We panned for gold in Keystone. We drove through Custer National Park where we saw a real buffalo grazing in a meadow. We spent the night on the side of the road. No one bothered us. There was very little traffic after the sun went down. We were exhausted and sleep came very easy on the side of the road.
Monday morning, we were up and moving early. There was another 200 miles to travel. We hit the road at about 8:30 that morning. It was cloudy and looked like it might actually rain. By the time we picked up Interstate 90 at Rapid City, it was raining pretty hard. At Belle Fouche, we stopped for lunch and then headed north on US 85. About twenty minutes on US 85, I had a flat tire. Jim and I had to unload part of my van to get to the spare tire and jack. We were both soaked when we got the van on the road again. Three hours later, the rain had stopped and we were in the town of Bowman, North Dakota.
Bowman was very much like Winner, a small town in the middle of the midwest. The Red Dog Saloon was a very nice place. We met the manager, Bill and got directions to the motel where we had 2 rooms. "Just go down Main Street til you run out of town buildings. Then go about three miles and its on the right. You know you start at 9PM tonight, so if you want you can set your stuff up now. Happy Hour starts at 5PM You can get half price drinks and free happy hour buffet."
Bean asked Bill if they could use another waitress while we were there. Bill said, "Honey, we can always use a waitress that looks like you". Bean had scopred another job. She would be making $3.00 an hour plus tips. Bean knew how to rake in the tips especially in the cow towns we were playing. I stopped at the garage to have my van checked and the flat tire fixed. The machinic told me I need new ball joints and he could do it for about $85. That hurt a bit especially after spending the money we spent at Wall Drug and Keystone.
The motel was an old Super 8. The rooms were musty, but clean. There was plenty of ice and hot water. Jim shared the room with Bean and me. We spent most our days watching the small colored TV and sleeping. It was an easy routine. Chuck and Penny kept to themselves.It was working. Jim and I would hit the Red Dog every day at 4:30 pm. The buffet boasted BBQ ribs, chicken wings, little egg rolls, onion rings and an assortment of fresh cut vegetables. We'd buy a few draft beers and eat like a couple of starved animals. Bill was very cool and never hassled us about it. Bean came in at 7PM to tear down the buffet and start waiting tables. We played four sets and finished at 1:30 AM. Bean worked another half hour. Bill always managed to find some "left-overs" she could take to the room for later that night. We spent next to nothing on food that week and it sure helped out after the van repair.
The band played better than we ever had, even with Mike and Hollywood. My voice kept getting stronger and Jim even sang two songs. We got paid and were told we'd we'd be booked again. I think Bill was infatuated with Bean, but that didn't hurt.
Our agent threw another dart at the map. This time, we were going to Aberdeen, South Dakota to play at the Oasis Lounge. Just before we left, I called home. Mom said I should call her as soon as we got settled in Aberdeen. My attorney had gotten things moving now and I needed to make certain I called on Tuesday. We were only 240 odd miles from Aberdeen. Things went well in Bowman, but after talking to my mom I began to worry about the near future.