Saturday 3 September 2011

Day 154: Presidents Walk

Antonia feeding birds with Benjamin Harrison.  He was a recluse so it's anyone's guess why he wanted to be president.
We walked from our little house to the center of Rapid City to see what it was like.  The first thing we discovered is that a lot of things are shut for labor day weekend.  Then we came across the Sioux trading shop which is a huge building filled with Native American art, crafts, and books.  In fact, it has so many books, it is probably the intellectual center of Rapid City.  The girl in the supermarket yesterday told me that now Borders is closed, there are no real bookstores here any more.  What there are instead are a gun shop, a military surplus shop, several shops selling Christian paraphernalia, some clothes shops that look like they last did their window display in 1950 and several nice looking restaurants, cafes and bars.  It is in fact America just as we imagine it!  Also, the people have a bit of an attitude.  Lot's of them are very nice (I'm sure), but I encountered one drunk who decided that my personal space extended 2mm from my nose.  He ended our conversation with "I canunnerstan a wor yer sy" before staggering off.  So: having a British accent is good for something!  Next, some guy started yelling something at me out of his tank as he drove by.  To which my response is "I cannunerstan a wor yer sy"...  maybe it's all just because it's labor day weekend, and everyone is racing around trying to get through their six packs early.

Eisenhower straddling Europe in proprietorial manner.
After looking at Native American art and books for a while, we started walking up and down the main street looking at presidents.  Rapid City has this special thing where they have filled their street corners with life size sculptures of every president America has ever had.  They also have an office where they issue you with a free guide and the promise of a free 'Presidential Soda' per family if you complete the activity on the back.  We had a blast, walking up and down, looking at presidents and looking for the little details we were supposed to spot for the activity.  They've obviously tried to focus on making the whole thing not too political, so the statues reflect the president's personal lives, tastes or aspects of their career that people here consider to be uncontroversial.  I like the fact that the town created something that encourages people to walk around, although they do have the typical American grid system and are very car centered.  Crossing the street enough to see all the presidents is quite challenging.  And when I say 'the town created something', that is probably a misrepresentation.  I get the impression that the people here are taking the dislike of acting socially or publically to an extreme, and they are very proud to let us know that their whole president sculpture thing was financed by private donations.  After we had finished the activity book, Antonia got a free Presidential Root Beer with a picture of Ronald Reagan on the label, and I left them a donation that should just about cover the cost of a root beer.  It turned out to be an amazingly good one.

Well-earned Ronald Reagan Root Beer


  1. Funny that looks like Antonia.
    she should'nt be drinking beer.

  2. I heard the gun shop here houses some of the most'bad ass' guns in the country.