Friday
Oct032014

Day 3

I can start to see the sun coming up over the horizon line as I sit in my car and realize the possibility of getting any sleep is now over.  I walk into the rest stop lobby and find a power socket and attempt to charge my phone.  After an hour of waiting I have about 30% of my battery charged and I get back in my car and head off towards Bozeman.

The dramatic landscape of Montana is revealed as the sun rises.  I am awestruck by the scenery and it reinvigorates me after the sleepless, freezing night.  I stop in Butte to check out some of the historical buildings and then reach Bozeman by 11 AM.  I have all day to kill before I have to be at the venue so I decide it is a good time to get the first oil change of the tour.  By this time I have no battery left in my phone so I just drive around town until I can find a place to get my oil changed.  I eventually find a Jiffy Lube and get an oil change after apologizing for the horrifying state of jam packed car.  In the waiting room an older woman chats me up and suggests I should go check out the Museum of the Rockies while I am in town.

After the oil change I head to the museum and spend the day learning about the history of Montana from all the way back to the age of dinosaurs through the occupation of settlers and to modern day.  I take my time and find a good deal of it interesting.  After the museum I have zero battery life in my phone and I drive around Bozeman looking for the venue.

I arrive at Wild Joe’s  Coffee house early and introduce myself to the staff and ask when I can load in.  I have an hour to wait and I get some free coffee (which is delicious) and a free slice of pizza! There are Uglyhead tour posters plastered in both the windows and a sandwich board sign outside the door.  The staff are all super nice. 

Shane from Onomono shows up who is also really nice.  We both load in and set up all of our equipment.  He plays a DJ set for about an hour and I go on at 8PM.  While playing I look at the people watching me in the venue and they are making weird faces and looked like they are annoyed.  I have another wave of insecurity and feel like I have a bad performance because of it.  After the set people say they really like it. I am beginning to think that the annoyed faces I see are just how faces look when they are being bombarded by my lighting rig.  I am hoping that can get past the faces people are making while they are watching me at future shows.  Or maybe I just won’t look at people at all.

Once the show is over I sell some merch and get some compensation from venue.  It is enough to cover my oil change! The night is a major success!  So far 2 out of 3 shows have been great! The staff even help me load my equipment in to the car.  Wild Joe’s Coffee in Bozeman, MT is a great business.  I would go there even if I wasn’t playing a show there.

I get on I-90 heading east and stop at the next rest stop.  Trying to sleep in my car is very uncomfortable but having about 3 hours of sleep over a 48 hour period catches up with me.  The temperature is considerably warmer tonight and I eventually fall asleep resting my head on driver's side window.

Saturday
Oct042014

Day 4

I am awake before the sun comes up. I am not really sure where I am or what time it is.  I find an electrical outlet and charge my phone’s battery to 20%.  I use the GPS and try to memorize the directions to my next destination before it dies again.  This is the beginning of the first part of the tour I have been dreading: No Uglyhead Zone #1.  I have no shows booked for 4 nights and nothing to do.

Before leaving I made a plan for cheap or free places to stay along the way to the next show.  Tonight I will be staying at a free campsite in the Custer National Forest.  I eat some snacks that I have packed and get on the freeway heading East.  It seems the further East I travel, the landscape of Montana becomes more dramatic and beautiful.  A deer suddenly jumps out on to the freeway and I swerve, barely missing it.  It runs to the grassy freeway median and flees down the center of I-90.  I watch it in my rearview mirror until it disappears.

I eventually find my exit to 212 East and see a sign for the Little Bighorn battlefield.  I stop to check it out.  There is a visitor center where artifacts from the battlefield are displayed and information about the history of the conflict that led up to the battle.  Its pretty interesting! I feel like West Coasters don’t really acknowledge the conflict between the Native Americans and the White Invaders very much.  Between the Museum of the Rockies and the Little Bighorn battlefield I am getting more exposure to it than I have in my entire life.  Its weird to think that even when the Native Americans win the Battle of Little Bighorn the white people turn the battlefield into a park and profit from it by charging people $10 to learn about it. Even at the Museum of the Rockies I kept contemplating the paradox of white people coming to America, being dicks and forcefully taking the land from the Native Americans and then building a museum that displays their conquest of assholeness and then charging people to learn about it.  A lot of American history seems like a big example of how you can get ahead and profit from being a dick.

I leave the park fascinated and disturbed and head towards my campsite.  I pass through the Crow Indian Reservation and am chased down by a pack of dogs that are try to bite my tires.  I pass through the Cheyenne Indian Reservation and stop at a gas station where packs of stray dogs hang out, trying to get food from the customers.  I am chatted up and mention I am camping in Custer Forest which produces an ominous reaction.   Feeling uneasy about the night I speed off and eventually find the road that will lead to my campsite.

It is a 12 mile dirt and gravel road that leads deep into the Custer Forest.  It is supposed to connect me to yet another forest road that will take me to my campsite.  The drive is slow and frightening.  I get the feeling that this a place typically used by hunters.  My feelings are confirmed when I arrive at my campsite and hear gunshots echo through the trees and find a deer skull with its horns cut off.

I set up camp and attempt to use my solar charger to charge my phone before the sun goes down.  While I am setting up camp a huge blue truck drives up to the entrance of my campsite and sits there for a few minutes and then backs up and takes off.  I consider myself lucky for getting to the campsite early because if I didn’t, it would have been taken and I would have nowhere to stay.

I eventually get my tent up and get about 30% of my phone’s battery charged.  I am sitting at the picnic table eating some snacks and once again the blue truck returns to the entrance of my campsite.  I nervously approach the truck and it quickly backs out of the campsite and speeds off.  I have seen enough redneck massacre movies for this to freak me out.  To take my mind off of how much of a vulnerable position I am in I go for a walk and find a trail of hooved tracks.  Supposedly the park has a herd of free roaming bison and it would be cool if I could find one and see it.  It gets dark before I catch up with the mystery hooved animal so I head back to camp and fall asleep.

Later that night I wake up and look out of my tent.  The moon is only half full but so bright I don’t need a flashlight.  I get out of my tent to grab some food from my car and look at the stars.  The sky is amazing! I can see stars I would normally not be able to see while close to the illumination of civilization.  I see a pair of headlights approach through the trees and I quickly hide behind a tree.  The blue truck is back and pulls into the entrance to the campsite again and shines his brights.  I grab a knife in my pocket and remain hidden from his lights.  From his perspective it would look like I was in my tent.  If they got out and approached my tent I would have the drop on them.  3-4 minutes pass and the truck backs up and leaves campsite.  Its disturbing to think that each time this truck has visited the campsite they had to drive at least 12 miles on a dirt road to get here.

I finish my meager dinner and uneasily get back in my tent.  I eventually fall asleep and have no idea what time it is.  It is not very comfortable but being able to lay down and sleep for the first time in a few days is a relief.

Sunday
Oct052014

Day 5

I wake up to the sound of rain beating down on my tent.  I decide to wait it out before I exit the tent but it seems the longer I wait, the harder the rain falls.  I get out and break down my tent.  Custer Forest is a wet mess. The sound of rain and the jackhammering of woodpeckers reverberate.

I eat a quick breakfast and head out, back down the 12 mile road out of the park.  I see pheasant, I see deer, I see a lone white wolf whose fur is stained red from the crimson mud.  I get to the highway and see an antelope standing roadside. It makes eye contact with me as I pass it by like some sort of bizarre hitch hiker.   Further down the road I see a group of wild turkey standing around the corpse of one that was hit by a car.  I swerve to avoid adding more casualties to the group.

I find a rest area and stop to charge my phone.  While I am there I am approached by a roadside assistant employee who asks me if I had hit a deer.  When I reply that I almost hit a deer he says “Well we ALL have ALMOST hit a deer.”  I stand in silence confused and he gets in his truck and speeds off down the highway.

After resurrecting my phone and getting directions with the GPS I get back on the road.  The sun breaks through the clouds as I enter Wyoming.  I stop for gas and notice that people have accents here.  I ask for $20 on pump 5 and the gas station attendant doesn’t understand me.  I have to repeat myself 3 times before I am able to get my gas. Getting gas is Wyoming is strange.  I am confronted with bizarre gas options I have never seen.  I make a selection and then make my way towards South Dakota.

I eventually reach Mount Rushmore and it is amazing!  I stand before it feeling insane and tear up.  Foreign tourists attempt to take pictures of their families without getting me in the background.  I walk the trail, I stop at all the of shops, I take pictures, I sit on a bench and just stare at it for a while.  The weather has improved dramatically and it feels nice to stretch my legs and be outside of my car.

I used to have a desk job.  When it was slow I would take imaginary road trips on google maps.  Sometimes I would visit Mount Rushmore and stare at it down from the satellite view.  Staring up at it from the ground is infinitely more satisfying and I do it for a few hours.

Before leaving I tried to make camping reservations near Mount Rushmore but found out that everything closes around it on October 1st.  This is one of the rare times I booked myself a hotel.  I am excited to be able to take a shower and eat and sleep in a bed.  I leave the park and head towards Rapid City where I am pleasantly surprised at the quality of hotel I booked for $62.  I have a burger at a diner next door, swim in the hotel’s pool, watch TV and eventually fall asleep in a bed feeling completely satisfied with my day.

Monday
Oct062014

Day 6

I wake up feeling well rested.  I take another shower, brush my teeth and take advantage of the hotel’s do-it-yourself Belgian Waffle machine.  I watch some television and feel dread as the newscaster predicts an Ebola crisis in the US, and gives details about the conflict with ISIS.  I grab some pumpkin spice flavored coffee to go and jump in my car thankful to be getting away from civilization for a while.

I stop at Wall Drug. I eat a buffalo burger. I get a souvenier cup.  Its a pretty strange place but it doesn't live up to all the hype I am have been subjected to for years. I wander across the street and find a taxidermy museum that smells like farts. 

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I drive for what feels like forever.  I cross a time zone and get an hour stolen.

After an exhausting, boring drive I make it to Palisades State Park in Eastern South Dakota as the sun is going down.    There is not another person to be seen in the entire park.  I get to my campsite which is beside a pleasant looking river.  I get my tent up as the moon rises, get in my sleeping bag and end a pretty uneventful day listening to the sounds of babbling water.
 

During the night I wake up to a footsteps rustling the leaves around my tent.  I grab my flashlight and get out to see what is going on.  I scan the woods around my camp with the beam of light and come across two small eyes staring back at me.  It moves around the forest and from what I can tell it is some sort of weasel creature.  I eventually get back in my tent and listen to it running around outside my tent until I fall asleep again.

Tuesday
Oct072014

Day 7

I wake up to a beautiful day.  I have time to kill so I take advantage of the Palisade Park hiking trail.  I walk and admire the red flat Sioux Quartzite walls that line both sides of the river.  According to the park brochure the quartzite walls and formations are approximately 1.2 billion years old.  Really old things make me feel very insignificant.  I start feeling really lonely and small as I am surrounded by the ancient walls in an empty park.

I see a fish.  I see a dead snake.  I encounter a huge pack of wild turkeys.  It feels like encountering a roving band of dinosaurs as they cautiously move away from me and into the forest.  I get the urge to flee and I hastily return to my campsite.

After I break down my tent I jump in my car and head towards Iowa. There seems to be endless rows of corn, fields of dead sunflowers and rolling hills.

I eventually reach my next destination in the “No Uglyhead Zone”:  Prairie Rose State Park.  The park is massive and completely void of people.  As I drive to my campsite I pass a huge lake surrounded by vacant picnic tables.  I make my way past vacant camp sites and find my reserved site marked with a green card with my name on it.  The campsite is complete shit.  Completely uneven and riddled with tree branches.  I look around and see a nicer one down the road so I take the green card and put it on the marker for the nicer campsite.  I feel slightly paranoid about switching to another reservable site and fear a confrontation with a park ranger but it is worth the risk to have a better spot to sleep.

I set up my tent and wander down a trail that goes to the lake.  Grasshoppers jump away from me in droves.  Mosquitoes and gnats surround me.  A strange fly bites my leg.  I reach bridge that crosses a dam.  As I walk across more grasshoppers jump in fear but fly off the bridge into the water below. I stand on the bridge and watch dozens of the insects kicking their legs as they drown in the murky depths as the sun is setting.

I walk around the lake and find another camping area for RV’s that have electrical hookups.  I make my way back to my camp and grab all my electronic devices and carry them across the park back to the hookups and give them a much needed charging.  I leave them charging and I walk back across the park to my campsite and eat a meager dinner of beef jerky, cookies and bottled water. A raccoon enters my camp, looks at me and wanders off after I don’t share my rations.

I climb into my sleeping bag and listen to the sounds of multiple owls hooting around my tent.  I hear crickets and small footsteps in the leaves around my tent.  I hear a coyote yipping and howling in the distance.  My blood runs cold when I hear an animal that screams a noise that sounds like a cross between an elephant and a power drill.   The multiple days of isolation start getting to me and I need to go get my phone so I have something to do to take my mind off of how vulnerable and alone I am. 

I grab my flashlight, exit the tent and make the long trek across the park in the dark to the electrical outlet.  There is movement all around me as I make my way through the trails but I am not quick enough with the flashlight to reveal what sort of creatures are out there.

I finally find the electrical hookup box and start walking up towards it when my flashlight catches the glare of two large eyes.  A large stag is standing near the pillar where my phone is charging.  I expect the animal to flee when I shine my flashlight at it and I yell “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!” but instead of fleeing it starts walking towards me.  I wave my arms and try to look scary but it keeps coming towards me so I run in the other direction.  I reach the main road that runs through park and it is still slowly following me.  I run down the road to main entrance of RV campsites and double back to the site where my electronics are charging and grab them.  The deer is still following me.  I make my way back across the park to my campsite and the animal pauses cautiously as I approach my tent.  After a brief staring contest the buck wanders off. 

I get in my tent and play Fairway Solitaire to shake off the creeps and eventually fall asleep.