Notes from the road — the P(x) digital diaries

<< Day 12 — South Dakota into Wyoming

Day 13: Thursday, August 26th

by Cynthia

Back to Dan's Western Wear so April and Kelli could buy the exact same hat as Chris. Chris is a little peeved, but dealing with it well — the new rule is: they aren't allowed to wear theirs on camera. April finds she cant wear the hat and the audio headset at the same time anyway. I on the other hand have a plan to protest the recent overload on Western wear by buying a pinwheel hat and embarrassing everyone to death. Those of you who know me know I'd really do it too.

We stopped for gas at a local gas station/"Real Live Native American Craft Center" — NOT! As I wandered in to stock up on sunflower seeds I spied antlers sticking out of the back of a covered truck. Without my glasses I couldn't tell if they were merely antlers or antlers attached to something. My curiosity brought me closer to the truck to where I could see a snout resting on the closed tailgate, fur extending to the back of the bed and a closed eye of an elk. The ought of this majestic animal lying dead in the bed of pick-up truck overwhelmed me, my mind continued down that path to the sensation of touching its brown fur, feeling the last bit of warmth escaping from its massive body.

Death is a very powerful force. I felt myself growing ill and quickly walked into the mini-mart focusing on my purchase. Returning to the car I pushed the encounter far from my mind, knowing it would resurface later during a more appropriate time.

Bumping at half our normal speed (more road work) we ventured to the National Monument of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. This is the site where Lakota and Cheyenne warriors won their first and last battle in an effort to protect their nomadic way of life. The battle ended the lives of General Custer and more than 260 soldiers. Headstones for all the Native Americans and soldiers killed in the battle are lined up across the rolling green hills. At first thought this seemed like an appropriate location to discuss population and social issues with the American people. Stepping onto the path between the rows of graves yielded an entirely different impression. I felt as if on some level I would be creating a sacrilege by asking people to focus their attention away from those we should be there to honor. Chris and I discussed my feelings and she thoughtfully agreed to approach the visitors to see if we could interview them outside the gates of the cemetery. I headed up to the visitors center to see if I could find some folks there.

An engrossing ranger program was under way outside. Kelli and I found ourselves spending more time than we had anticipated listening to the animated tale of Little Big Horn. Snapping to we scanned the area for April and Chris. They were nowhere to be seen. Wandering inside the visitor center I found only rangers and knowing from experience that rangers aren't supposed to express personal opinions to media sources while in uniform I left defeated. Back at the truck we rendezvoused with our other half. They were a little pissed that we had taken off and been gone for so long. I asked if they had any luck with getting folks to interview, they hadn't. April said she thought there was some kind of bad interview mojo in this place. I agreed, my instinct validated.

We packed up and made tracks for our next home, Bozeman, MT. Finding ourselves with some time to spare we decide to stop for a picnic lunch of cheese and cucumber sandwiches. This is a stock meal we're all getting pretty sick of. The nearest picnic stop was a Kiwanis Club campground on the Yellowstone River just outside of Bozeman. The area hosted many bunnies and wasps and offered a spectacular view of a local oil refinery. I feel like I'm on a tour of the power stations and refineries of the nation. They're everywhere!

At the beginning of the trip we had planned to do private personal interviews for the cameras saying where we were in our lives, what brought us to working on this project and why it was so important to be here. Then at the halfway point we would do another interview and a third wrap-up interview a week after we returned. In all of the excitement we forgot. Ooops!

So we figured we could do the first and second one together halfway through. Actually we thought we might be able to fake the first one now and change clothes for the 2nd one. But looking at each other we realized we looked nothing like we did the day we left. WE had all recognized in the beginning that we would not return the same people. However, what we hadn't realized was this would manifest itself physically. It was going to take time to tame these wild women again and it would only happen because we willed it. Settling down beside the Yellowstone River, April and I confessed out thoughts and emotions to George and George alone. We had agreed that this footage would not be watched until it hit the editing room. It was during my confession that the elk would return.

Before we hit Bozeman Montana, April had gone into negotiating mode to see if it was possible to get a full-fledged night off. Although her relationship with George was going hot and heavy she felt we all could use some personal time. Before this moment I was unable to articulate the cause of my frustration, but this idea seemed to make it all go away.

The plan was: We would pull into town, and find a great area for interviews, Chris would drop us off, go find a motel, check in, unload and when she returned we would have met our interviewing quota. Then the rest of the evening was ours. No logging no nothing. RIGHT ON!!!! Excitedly I exclaimed, "I wanna go see 'The Blair Witch Project.'" Much to my dismay no one wanted to go with me and I am such a super fraidy cat that I refuse to go alone.

Quickly but thoroughly we interviewed 10-15 people including: a new college student with parent, a stay-at-home mom with a small child, a 19-yr-old construction worker who loves Jesus and things he'll be paying us a visit soon, a very articulate homeless gentleman who thinks respecting oneself and then others will eventually help us to take care of the environment (I'll vote for that one) and a young girl who works in the office of a very large timber company. You can bet those last 2 interviews will make it into the final cut!

While collecting interviews at the local pizza place Kelli started making friends with some guys who work there at that she would later hang out with. She ... doesn't mind mixing business with pleasure. I need to take a lesson. Hey wait, I was supposed to be the public relations! April and I ended up tracking her down at 1am. Her hosts were not pleased that we made her come home.

Though 2 separate journeys walking a mile to and from the theater April and I managed to see the same film, "The Sixth Sense." Both of us highly recommend the mind fuck we received that evening. On rendezvousing back at the motel we engaged in long and complex conversations around the perception of reality, ghosts and the paranormal, the writing and creating of great films and the audio and visual suggestion in the movies and the chemical base of emotion. This got us to talking about society and how we have moved from an oral to a literary society and it is proposed that we are becoming a visual society. What does this mean for us? How will this affect the way we think, how our brain responds? Have we increased the functional capacity of our brains by becoming a literary society? Wan will we tap into a part of the 90% of our brain we aren't currently using by moving to a visually based society? What does this mean for the evolution of humans? This looks like a great thesis topic if anyone is up for it. If you do use our idea please send us a copy of your findings with P(x) in the credits. Some money would be nice too and donations are tax-deductible.

Don't you just love to look at where a conversation begins, where it ends up and the journey it took to get there? I find thinks like that very interesting and this conversation was truly fascinating.

April's journey to the movie theater took her to a local Mexican restaurant where she chit-chatted with a couple of girls about the documentary and began her own dialog about the state of our social and environmental future. The issues April brought up about population, consumption, and conserving resources through recycling were things the girls had never really talked about. Yet they were all things that concerned them because they care about where we are going.

So far the vast majority of the people we talked to have been very concerned about our future and care deeply about nature and the environment (as they define it) — they simply don't know how they can have an impact. They are completely unaware of the unique power they hold within themselves.

This discovery has given me a renewed hope for humans as a species. What would the world be like if everyone felt empowered to follow their dreams and make a difference when they saw an injustice? What would we be like if we were to trust in our instincts to survive and focus on what really made us happy? Haven't we "survived" for thousands of years on instinct? Is our society really teaching us the skills to survive or the skills to continue our material enslavement?

That was a nice little tangent, don't you think?

>> Day 14 — Montana into Idaho

Cynthia in the morning

Days of the Diaries