24-hour toe service

I'm new to GPS, and dang, it's science fiction to me. What'll they think of next?


March 29, 2022

Leaving Madison and consulting my reliable paper atlas, the first night's hotel in Sioux Falls, SD, looked like it would be easy to find, so I just input "Sioux Falls, SD" for the GPS. It got me there, beeping now and then which freaked me out. After a few hours I decided it's beeping because the speed limit has changed. 

My first major disappointment on the trip was that I had to welcome myself to Minnesota. There's usually a big cheerful sign when you cross a state line, "Welcome to Utah, pour out your Coca-Cola at the next rest stop please," or "Welcome to Rhode Island" and then an hour later, "Come back to Rhode Island." Entering Minnesota via Interstate-90, I had to figure it out myself.

John the Basket promised me I'd enjoy the scenery, but it's mostly dull flatlands and Conoco stations. There was one stretch of modern windmills, maybe more than I've ever seen all bunched together as far as I could see north to south. That was a sight I'm glad I saw. Most of the rest, a post card would suffice.

Nothing much to hear, either. The radio stations are usually gone in half an hour, and 40% are country, 40% are Christian, and about half the rest are NPR. Found an oldies station that plays, apparently, only oldies from the 1950s — none of that newfangled Beatles stuff, or anything that came after. That was nice, for 45 minutes, and then static. 

Sunday night, as expected, the hotel was a cinch to find. And I learned something about my GPS — if you don't input an address, it seems to select a random intersection and call it Sioux Falls, SD. 

As I left the hotel to get a sandwich and later a tank of gas — both very visible places so I didn't use the GPS — it was still telling me to turn left here, turn right here, to get back to the sacred intersection it believes to be Sioux Falls, SD. Sure, I could click it off, but it's amusing, for me if not for you.

A belated disclaimer, by the way: I'm not pretending this essay is any good or worth the bother of reading. It's a rush job and a first draft and just something to type, slowly waking my mind up, waiting for the sun to rise because I'm too damned old to drive the Interstate while it's still dark.

Stayed at the Center Inn in Sioux Falls, which says it's conveniently located across the street from the city's biggest hospital. More accurately, it's almost part of the hospital. I won't swear to this cuz it's rude to stare, but my impression from walking to and from my car and glancing into first-floor rooms, is that at least some of the guests are patients of the hospital, sleeping across the street because it's quieter and nurses don't intrude all night.

I might be wrong about that. It's happened on rare occasions.

Across the street was a huge building that announced itself as, "Surgery Center of South Dakota." Yeah, and the sandwich shop said their ham hoagy was the best in Sioux Falls. Both claims might be true, but maybe not worth bragging about.

On the trash can outside the hotel's side door was a pizza box, which I had to lift to drop my sammich wrapper in, so I noticed that the box was full of pizza. A complete pizza, sliced and boxed, uneaten. Per the receipt taped to the box, it was made the day before. My guess? Someone ordered it delivered to the hotel, but didn't answer the phone or buzzer when the driver got there. "Here's your pizza — bye."

Far be it from wacky old me to judge other people on their wackiness, but several times at the hotel in Sioux Falls, I trekked from my room to the parking lot, to get something from my car — cat litter, soda, a comb after my shower, etc — and every time, the car parked next to mine had the engine running and someone in the driver's seat. Approx 7PM, 9AM, 4AM, 5AM, 6AM. Guy living in his car, I decided. At 7AM as I drove away, he was shaving his face with an electric razor, and we waved at each other. Free wi-fi in the parking lot. Seems like a plan.

It's a genuine mom & pop hotel, the Center Inn. I met Mom checking in, and Pop checking out, and they're old enough to be Grandma and Grandpa. Took two donuts from the complimentary spread for breakfast, and they were really, really good. Bet those donuts came from a mom & pop bake shop.

All my overnight stops for this trip came from momandpophotels.com, which is a dusty and outdated site, but still invaluable and recommended by me. It doesn't seem to be monetized, so I believe they believe in what they're doing.

Why people would want to sleep in the same building in different cities I do not know, but that's all a chain hotel is. In a Motel 6 or Super 8 or Holiday Inn (if you have that kind of budget), one city looks exactly like every other. You might as well eat every meal at McDonald's, too.

So far for me, every meal and bed has been non-corporate. The gas stations, of course, offer no such choice.

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Onward, my second day on I-90 took me and the yowling cat across South Dakota and into Wyoming, with welcome signs at both borders.

Half an hour after leaving Sioux Falls came my favorite billboard of the journey so far — an auto body shop, typical picture of a tow truck, a phone number to call, but I sensed something was wrong before figuring out what it was. The tag line at the bottom of the sign said, "24-hour toe service," and I'm 99.9% certain it wasn't a joke.

Peed at a rest stop in SD where the sink was very heavily splattered with blood. "This was no boating accident."

Nothing personal, South Dakota, and I wasn't really there for the scenery, but nothing along I-90 caught my eye except the thousands, maybe tens of thousands of billboards. Must've seen fifty reminders that abortion is murder (it's not), and countless billboards and signs telling me to obey God. That's the design: "obey God" in big letters, preceded in a much smaller font by the word "Christians." So the sign says "Christians obey God" but what it says to everyone is "Obey God." I say, fuck no.

And what can I say about Wall Drug? When I was a kid on a camping vacation, the family rode that same stretch of I-90 in a station wagon, and I remember being fascinated by the hundreds of signs starting hundreds of miles away, advertising Wall Drug. It was originally a drug store that eventually grew into a city-sized tourist attraction.

For the first fifty signs or so, the adult Doug thought I might stop at Wall Drug, but after the next few hundred billboards and signs it lost any appeal and I drove right past both exits for the place.

Firehouse Brewery also has a great many signs. One of them claimed Firehouse was South Dakota's first brewery, which smells false, but it's gotta be the state's most obnoxious. I would guesstimate that I passed 100 Firehouse Brewery billboards, starting hundreds of miles before their one location — and parked beside each billboard is an antique fire engine. Yes, a real one.

After passing the town the brewery is in, there were another hundred billboards facing traffic from the other direction, each with a fire engine parked beside it. A couple of hundred signs and a couple of hundred old fire engines costing at least hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars each. Does that money make the beer taste better, though? How could the owner possibly not be a trust-fund asshole?

I'm typing this from the Occidental Hotel in downtown Buffalo, Wyoming, where I stayed on my trip's second night.  The hotel has been here since 1880-something, with guests including Buffalo Bill Cody, Teddy Roosevelt, Calamity Jane, and now me and my yowling cat.

I don't think the building has ever been remodeled, but that's a good thing. Nice place, reasonable rates cuz it's off-season, but it's a little cold — there's no built-in heat, just a fancy space heater. Good wi-fi, though, and everyone says the attached Busy Bee Diner serves a good breakfast. Will I breakfast there? Probably not. They don't open until 7AM — sunrise — and I want to be on the highway.

I'm halfway to Seattle. Today we'll see how my ancient Chevy feels about climbing the Rocky Mountains. I already know how the cat feels about it — yowl.

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And now, my internet history from yesterday, minus the porn…  

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Meet the bike man who brought the DC trucker convoy to a crawl 

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DeSantis signs Florida's "Don’t Say Gay" bill into law 

Disney, which owns Florida and could have prevented this, now promises to do too little too late to help

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About 20% of Americans believe the central tenets of QAnon 

PRRI fielded a set of three questions in four different surveys over the course of 2021, measuring agreement or disagreement (completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, or completely disagree) with foundational QAnon beliefs:

1. The government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation. 
2. There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders. 
3. Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.

Combining data from these four surveys offers a comprehensive look at QAnon beliefs. Across the four surveys, around one in five Americans mostly or completely agree that there is a storm coming (22%), that violence might be necessary to save our country (18%), and that the government, media, and financial worlds are controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophiles (16%).

That's actually a little lower than I'd expected — call it good news?

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How to live life like your favorite writers 

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The gripping origin story of the world’s greatest blow-job machine 

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One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...
Fox News

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♫♬  Sing along with Doug  ♫
Overture, opening credits, and first scene
from Star Trek: The Motion Picture,
by Jerry Goldsmith

Cranky Old Man is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to All Hat No Cattle, Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S., and always Stephanie...

Cranky Old Man
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  1. Captain HampocketsMarch 29, 2022 at 6:20 AM

    I have my GPS muted. But Virginia has hers set so she hears voice commands, and the voice is a Yeti. No words, just grunts and snarls and stuff. It's amusing, but annoying, and I'd NEVER have mine doing that.


    Are you telling me you didn't take the pizza?


    Your first segment seems to interchange "Sioux Falls" and "Sioux City." Am I nuts?

    1. Sioux Falls, Sioux City, who doesn't get 'em mixed up? Fixed, thanks.

      Day-old pizza, on top of a trash bin? I have my standards, man, and that's *barely* below.

  2. Long comment eaten by Blogger. Good luck the rest of the way.


    1. Someone else complained in an email yesterday, about getting a comment eaten. Google must be especially hungry...

  3. When I first saw the title of today's post I thought, "Oh shit...he had car trouble!" Glad to hear it was nothing of the sort and you're still safely on your way.

    You know all those billboards would just magically disappear if you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, right? It's a miracle, I say! A MIRACLE! (I wonder how many actually have bullet holes in them.)

    I agree that 20% who believe in QANON drivel is less than I expected. Even if people lie and it's closer to 30% that's still a good thing.

    1. It is so strange to be in absolutely Republican territory, even just driving through. I've seen a thousand bumper stickers about cold dead hands. These people really believe someone's coming for their guns — Carter, Clinton, Obama, Biden, I dunno who, but they're coming...

  4. My brother, welcome back to Seattle, a city of 3/4 million in a county of 2 1/4 million in a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) of 4 million, the majority of whom moved in while you were away. . .

    Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
    Any minute now I'm expecting all hell to break loose
    People are crazy and times are strange
    I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
    I used to care, but things have changed

    So much has changed since you left. I hope you will take your time and get to know the neighborhoods before you decide where to live; They have familiar names, but the people who live in them subdivide them by ethnicity/language, culture, tradition and, frankly, safety. There are also significant differences among how the neighborhoods from Everett to Tacoma are served by regional transit.

    Of course you know all of this already; I'm just hoping that you will give yourself permission to take your time to assimilate the details before choosing your abode. If you want help with anything email me and I'll be there, either virtually or in person. If not, I look forward to continuing our friendship online.

    I also hope you will give yourself permission to rest and recover from the ordeal of cleaning and packing and driving 2,000 miles.

    Home is where we choose to build our nest. Welcome home amigo.


    1. My rest and consideration of the changes and neighborhoods have to be tempered by my dwindling funds. I am really hoping to have a shitty room within a week, but that's probably too optimistic.

      It doesn't feel like home. Home was Madison. Hoping it becomes sorta homey again.

  5. "About 20% of Americans believe the central tenets of QAnon "

    About 80% believe in God, so I never expect intelligence from Americans.


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