A Fairy Good Time

POSTED IN | 10:18 PM
Well friends, as the days grow shorter and the nights a crisp 40-some degrees, there are sure signs this summer is nearly over here on the high plains. Most notably, it's that time again for the Wyoming State Fair, hosted by none other than my lovely metro of Douglas, Wyo!

Amigos J.Vo and J.Al (venerable Sooner Statesmen in their own right) descended on Douglas this past weekend for the fair kickoff, reining in the spectacle as only respectable Okies can. We had not an abismal time, and with only a few groggy mornings to show for our revelries.

It's surprising to think I started at the newspaper at this time last year. WOW. Where has the time gone, my dear chillens? Thus it's with my approximate one-year anniversary that I'll be bidding farewell to the Douglas Budget newspaper and Wyoming within a number of days. My final day is next week.

It's been a mostly good, challenging run on all levels but I know it's time to be looking forward, as a single, minimally tied-down individual is wont to do. But don't worry, you particular Douglasites who made my time here worthwhile, you'll not be forgotten. Pretty sure I would've shriveled into a decrepit sack of worthlessness back in mid-February without you all.

As for where I'm going? It's back to OK for at least a spell. Then it's que sera sera mis amores. But stay tuned. I'll let you know when I get "there"...

Mis amigos y yo packed it up into the family sedan and headed for the hills this weekend. The Black Hills. Of South Dakota. It was my first time in the state (total personal state count at 38 of 50 now) and I have to say the Black Hills did NOT disappoint.

I always envisioned the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln as being somewhat lackluster, etched on a random mountain ridge in the middle of no-freakin-where, USA. In the end I'll just say GO and SEE them. You can't be a real 'Merican and forgo the towering sculpted busts and learn about the man who sacrificed much of his life to create them.

Our weekend getaway also coincided with the largest motorcycle rally in the United States: Sturgis. So named for the South Dakota city around which it constricts.

This normally wouldn't be an item of note except for the fact that about 500,000(!) bikers attend the rally and swarm the Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore area for one week each year in August. One quickly feels out of place in the absence of riding chaps, leathery skin and overly exposing and distasteful garments (yikes).

It's basically a roving, virile freak show on wheels, and it's pretty awesome to behold.

As means to illustrate the event's prominence, here are some Sturgis fun facts gleaned from a web site:

1. In 1976 the average attendee spent $50.
2. In 2009 the average attendee will spend more than $1,000.
3. 1/3 of western South Dakota's motorcycle accidents connected to the event.
4. The rally features hundreds of thousands of bare, saggy breasts. And that's just the men.
5. Sturgis businesses make 95% of their annual revenue from the rally.
6. South Dakota collects approximately $1,000,000 in sales tax from the event.
7. The town of Sturgis, population 6,000, adds $200,000 of taxes to its coffers.
8. The first rally was in the summer of 1938, and has been in Sturgis every year except during WWII.
9. In 2005 a rider was killed by a flying toilet.
10. A conservative estimate of beer consumed in the two weeks surrounding the event: 3 million gallons

Thus. If you have the means and the time, your photos and experiences won't leave you wanting for raw sensory stimulation. Just remember to suck it down cheap, cold and American.

But let us get on with the photos.

Keystone, SD. Taken from the balcony where we munched pizza for lunch. A symphony of baritone combustion exhaust.

Ahem. Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt and Lincoln.

Take II.

Custer State Park will be one of the prettiest places you'll go in the West. Don't miss Sylvan Lake, dear friends. What an amazing setting, and day hikes/camping galore!

But we all had a fright at the unexpected big foot sighting IN Sylvan Lake. EGAD, MAN! Seems they're quite aquatic beasts, too. Initial reports couldn't confirm the validity of the sighting or if Europeans are simply to blame. England and France could not be reached for comment as of press time.