Lately I’ve been reminded on the smallness of this 814,180 populated state.
With the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally bringing in roughly 500,000 people to a town of 6,000+, it’s a little bit of a “We’re not in Kansas anymore” moment. I-90 is jammed pack with Harley Davidson’s and handlebar mustaches, fancy pickups pulling even fancier trailers, and vendor opportunists from all over the country hoping to sell souvenirs and body art to people of all ages.
I grew up in this part of South Dakota, and the familiar rumbles of bikes brings me right back to that time and place where, for one week, the Black Hills transformed from it’s peaceful ambiance to leather and lace. For over eighteen years I was a part of this highly-celebrated occasion and witnessed the interesting affect a new culture has on people.
Like the wealthy suburban married men who transform into wild hogs for a week, a chance to escape from daily expectations of provider roles and mortality. Or the women feeling liberated under the cheers of men while they ride mechanical bulls or participate in beauty contests, not just of the face but of the whole temple.
I don’t look back on those days with a feeling of superiority, but with a strange disconnect to a girl I once knew. A kind of transformation that only occurs from being planted into the country, on a farm, with nothing but the vegetables and animals under your care.
It’s quiet and simple yet so wildly hard.
South Dakota is small and quite uneventful apart from this second week of August. It rapidly transforms back to its original state once the last of the bikers leave, so quickly you almost wouldn’t know it was here except for the lingering smoke in the air. Real-life transformation doesn’t happen so quickly, however… and maybe it’s not supposed to.
But now those roars are a distant echo on the farm. Oh, I hear the adventurers drive by, just did a few moments ago, heading west toward fun and freedom they hope to escape in.
And for a moment I think back to this girl I once knew, a girl now making her way through the
Land of Oz .