Like a bad parody of Footloose, Midland, SD has outlawed camping in town. Apparently they’ll call the police if you camp in their park. I could, I’m sure, have found a church or a person who would have let me camp on their lawn. But I had a lot more fun.
I was sitting in the back of the Food ‘n Fuel (the gas station/ grocery store/ restaurant and bar) eating my sandwich and talking to wheat farmers. We were discussing different types of wheat and their respective prices and applications. I knew I couldn’t travel farther that day since the temperature in the shade was around 104. Someone asked me where I was staying and I told them I was going to camp in town. Well, that’s when I heard those four awful word, “you can’t camp here.” I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I just kept sitting there and visiting with people in the bar. Finally, Cathy and Bob I told me about a wagon train camped near town. That’s right, a train of horse-drawn, covered wagons was making it’s way across western South Dakota. We talked about it for a while and since everyone in SD knows each other, Shirley made a call and found out that the wagon train was camped just about 15 miles west right along the highway. So at 8:00, when the temperature dropped to a cool 96 I set out to join the train. I found it just as the sun was setting.
As I rode in old guys in jeans and cowboy hats called out a chorus of “howdy” and “that’s a funny looking horse”. I introduced myself and everyone told me I was welcome to find a flat piece of ground anywhere I wanted, so amid a swarm of mosquitoes and horse flies I set up my tent and dived inside. I fell asleep watching the stars come out and listening to horses whinnying. I knew it would be another scorcher so at 4:45 the next morning I was already on the road headed for Wall and the promise of free ice water and a 6 foot rabbit.