Reflections from Muscat resident Chandra Lahiri’s month-long, solo trip across the Great Plains of the US, from Tulsa to Yellowstone National Park. The 5,200km road trip is an exploration of six states focusing on major Native American and Western Frontier sites
This is the last entry in my diary, for this epic, personal pilgrimage. I will never again have such an extraordinary adventure, in this lifetime. After 30 days, almost 5,800km, 83 hours of driving, 430lt of petrol, six states, three time zones, five ballpoint pens, four completely worn tyres and one speeding fine, my amazing odyssey is finally over. A lifetime of wonder is stored in my mind, for 'reflection in tranquility'.
Unlike the Imperial-hubris of Fraser’s 'End of the Trail' sculpture, of the exhausted, defeated native warrior, I ride to my trail’s end, energetic and excited, eager to experience the magic of Yellowstone - after a childhood diet of Yogi Bear and Booboo Bear. After a long, lonely month, my wife now rides shotgun, in my fossil-fueled stagecoach, drawn by mechanical horses. The three-hour drive to Yellowstone is, to put it mildly, spectacular.
I was followed into my Cody motel by a biker gang. I eyed them with some apprehension. All had the regulation look - daunting headgear and goggles; black, leather jackets; substantial physiques; the swagger. I had noticed the bikers in the Black Hills usually had an, even more formidable-looking, female riding pillion. On closer inspection, this crowd seemed not to have got the memo about the Haight-Ashbury era being over.
Battle waged furiously, in the valley of the Rosebud River. Significantly outmanned, and considerably outgunned, Crazy Horse had, nevertheless, decided to attack Gen Crook’s army, in defence of their camp, over the watershed, on the Little Bighorn. At its peak, a Cheyenne Chief’s horse was killed, and he fell. His sister, watching from a nearby ridge, quickly grabbed a horse and rode fearlessly out to him. Collecting him, on the gallop, she rode back to their lines. Forever, thereafter, this battle on the Rosebud would be known as The Battle Where the Girl Saved Her Brother.
I am sidling, nervously, into a Town of Sin and Debauchery! A leisurely 45-minute drive through the exquisite beauty of the mystical Black Hills, shows me, once again, the flip side of the Frontier. As usual, I am the only Injun amid a horde of cowboys. I wonder if I am the only non-white in the whole of South Dakota! However, they treat me as I expect a horde of Injuns would treat the Lone Ranger - with benevolent indifference.