June 23, 2010- We’ve Been Expecting You

Kate Murr

The ride from Springfield to Pickstown, SD was rough. For nearly 50 miles we fought headwinds and climbed high prairie hills, sometimes on gravel roads. To complicate things, there were semi-trucks with double loads of gravel that dusted us on our route, which was heavily under construction. Men perched at intersections directed traffic and pointed us toward Pickstown. The landscape was richly lonely, reservation land, hot and forgotten.

We rode through a reservation town that had been completely flooded. In Marty grass lay down. Debris cluttered the yards of humble homes. Boys rode bikes on dirty streets.

Our final ascent ended at the Fort Randall Casino. We debated whether to stop there, at the top of the hill, or coast down into Pickstown, but we were hungry and we didn’t know for sure the restaurant situation in town.

As we parked our bikes a man named Henry began to tell us stories of the Yankton Sioux landscape through which we’d passed, and he immediately invited us to the pow-wow, two days away. He was a little fuzzy on his facts, we learned later, but he was very welcoming, especially after such a hard ride. His welcome was eclipsed, however, when a security guard came to where we were chatting with Henry, changing our shoes, and said, “We’ve been expecting you.”

How odd, I thought, or maybe said, we’ve barely been expecting ourselves.

The guard explained that the manager of the casino restaurant had seen us struggling in the wind on the road and she called ahead to tell them if the tired, filthy family on bicycles came by to comp their meal.

I melted into a dirty puddle then at the thoughtfulness and kindness of a stranger and the family went inside to enjoy a buffet meal. We decided to stay at the hotel for the showers and beds and to think about whether or not to stay the two extra days for the pow-wow.

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