Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rez Ride 2010

Lucky me--it's time to pack up the camper and head west once again!  This two-week adventure will be a combination of A)  part Rez Ride 2010, B) part family vacation, and C) part Harley ride through Wyoming with friends.

A) What is the Rez Ride 2010 you ask?  Let me share... Hidden Heritage-the TV show features 13 episodes per season, one of which is a motorcycle ride through reservation land in South Dakota.  In 2009, our inaugural season, we filmed segments in three locations:  the Black Hills, Bear Butte, and the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Because Paul LaRoche has only a short window of time to break from his live performances and film the ride, it's a little tricky to schedule with other people's vacations.  In 2009 we only had three bikes participate for the Rez Ride, but it didn't stop us from having a blast.  Due to the late hour we had an unplanned overnight stay in Sturgis and spent several hours on the patio of the Holiday Inn, telling stories and laughing until our sides hurt. 

Shane LaRoche, videographer and audio technician, did a fantastic job handling the camera and audio equipment.  It's not as easy as you think, considering he has to capture footage of the bikes riding through the curves and turns on the always busy Needles Highway.  Heading out to the Pine Ridge Reservation was a little easier with a straight road and less traffic, with the Wounded Knee Memorial as our destination.  Little did we know that the Wounded Knee Memorial Run--in honor of Chief Big Foot and the American Indians killed in the Wounded Knee massacre--was enroute to Wounded Knee.  Moments after we arrived roughly one hundred bikers rolled in and parked their bikes, having started the run in Fort Yates, North Dakota.  The timing couldn't have been scripted any better.  With cameras rolling, we captured footage of the ceremony in honor of those killed at the massacre in 1890.  We all had the sense that it was no accident for us to witness and share such a moving ceremony as part of the Rez Ride 2009.                                                                                    

This year, in 2010, our plan is to capture footage and scenery on the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Reservations in central South Dakota along the famous Lewis and Clark Trail.  And as of today we've upped participation in the ride to four bikes! 

B) For our family vacation we'll spend one week at the Horsethief Campground south of Hill City.  Our youngest son David will join us, along with another family and their three kids.  We'll do some of the typical family traditions, sightseeing, little bit of tourist shopping, and end each day with dinner back at the campground, followed with an evening campfire.

One author note:  On Tuesday, July 27, I've been invited to speak to the Hill City Book Club at the Hill City Library.  We'll be discussing Hidden Heritage...the Story of Paul LaRoche.  Since many people in Hill City are fans of Paul LaRoche and Brule', it should be a fun evening!  I am looking forward to our discussion. 

C)  On Sunday, August 1st, four other couples will join John and I for a circle tour through Wyoming.  We're leaving from Hill City and taking some of the back roads west to Sheridan, then up to Cooke City, Montana.  From there we head south into Yellowstone National Park and will spend one night in Grand Teton, Wyoming.  Next we head east to Buffalo, and back to Hill City on the fifth and final day.  We'll finish up our vacation with a couple days of riding in the always-beautiful Black Hills before returning to Minnesota. 

My husband and I have been going to South Dakota at least once--and quite often twice--every summer since 2003...and each year part of the reason has involved Hidden Heritage and/or Brule'.  On that note, let the adventure continue!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Real Poetry--Wyoming Style

When I won a residency at the Devils Tower National Monument back in 2008, I had the good fortune of having lunch with several members of the Bearlodge Writers group, who cosponsored the residency together with the park.  One member, Pat Frolander, (back row, lavender sweater) also worked at the park and served as my liaison, graciously greeting me when I arrived in Wyoming on the heels of an early winter storm. 

Pat lives on a ranch in Sundance, Wyoming and writes poetry.  Real poetry.  A couple posts ago I shared my feeble attempt at poetry during the Landscape & Literature of the Horse Retreat I attended back in June at the Vee Bar Ranch west of Laramie.  (Okay, yes, I feel drawn to Wyoming and use any excuse to venture westward!) 

I'll be the first to admit, however, there's a difference between Pat's poetry and mine.  In fact, Pat's poem "Denial" was recognized in June by Ted Kooser, US Poet Laureate 2004-2006, in the American Life in Poetry.  With Pat's permission, here is her poem:


He called it "his ranch,"
yet each winter day found her beside him
feeding hay to hungry cows.

In summer heat
you would find her in the hayfield--
cutting, raking, baling, stacking.

In between she kept the books,
cooked, cleaned
laundered, fed bum lambs.

Garden rows straight,
canned jars of food
lined cellar walls.

Then she died.
I asked him how he would manage.
"Just like I always have," he said.

Amazing!  Through a minimal amount of words I can picture each decade of this woman's life.  Anyway, Pat shared her good news with me earlier this week, and I felt it was worthy to pass on.  If you by chance pick up a copy of Grassland Genealogy (Finishing Line Press, 2009) you will see that Pat's writing style is in one sense heartwarming, like "Requiem In Lace", and in another sense frank and forthright, such as "Wringer Washer", a short poem that speaks of a woman's tenacity. Pat shares a way of life in the contemporary west through fragmented sentences and rhymes that speak to the heart and draws the reader to her spirit.

As we all know, one of the best things in attending writers events is connecting with other writers.  And sometimes the 'connecting' goes deeper than we first realize.  Like finding out Page Lambert, the author/speaker who facilitated the retreat I attended in June, is a former member of the Bearlodge Writers and helped found the residency...and happens to be a good friend of Pat's. 

Maybe as our world gets smaller (as it sure seems to!) Wyoming will get closer to Minnesota and I won't have so far to drive next time! 

(*Group photo is by Alice Liles, Muleshoe, TX; Landscape & Literature of the Horse Retreat, 2010)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Seconds Matter

Those who live in or near my hometown of Wadena, a picturesque farming community in north-central Minnesota, are familiar with the neat yards and tree-lined boulevards, similar to many other Midwestern towns.  That all changed on Thursday, June 17th, when an F4 tornado ripped through Wadena.  The tornado hit with such ferocity that it destroyed a good portion of the town in a matter of seconds.

Thankfully there was enough time to send out warnings for residents to take cover, including my relatives who still live there.  My sister's home was only two houses away from the tornado's path, yet hers had no damage.  My brother was a patient in the Tri-County Hospital and he was escorted to an underground tunnel for safety. 

In the southwest section of town--my old neighborhood--over two hundred homes were damaged or destroyed.  Stately oak trees that stood for generations in the cemetery were uprooted or twisted off at the base.  The county fairgrounds, complete with century-old buildings and beautiful trees was devastated.  The municipal pool--by far the most popular spot all summer--was in ruins.  Sections of the community center and agriculture building were wrapped around other business, literally ripped from the foundation and swept away.  School buses and rail cars were tossed around like toothpicks.

The high school (senior high, junior high, and district office) had the roof ripped off and authorities later found the building had started to crumble.  Plans were in place for an all-school reunion the following day, which would have meant many more people in the school. It was eerie to walk down a street a block from where I grew up that was unrecognizable.  Trees my dad planted (bottom left photo) in our back yard were toppled. 

The outpouring of help has been incredible.  First responders and volunteers came to help from communities statewide.  Wadena will rebuild, much the same as other communities that have been hit by a devastating force of nature.  That's when we realize it is the people who are at the heart of each town--big or little--who make the difference, reaching out, helping each other across this great nation of ours. 

So on this Fourth of July it seems all the more appropriate to give thanks to our military friends and families who dedicate their lives and sacrifice more than we'll ever know in the name of freedom.  I'm thankful to live a country with God and freedom at our very core . . . and I'm thankful for the type of upbringing I had in a small town like Wadena. 

Happy Fourth of July to all,