State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.


by Natalia

Pioneer Auto Show in Mudro, South Dakota is a genuine road side attraction. Row after row of early cars. Building after building of period pieces illustrating life on the plains in the first half of the 20th century. A huge barn full of tractors. Collection of motorcycles including one that belonged to the King. One of the first custom made houses on wheels a.k.a. RV.

It’s all dusty and the smell reminds me of my grandparents’ attic - not necessarily in a good way. It sorely needs money: audio narration mentions cars absent from exhibits - probably sold to help the site survive. It sure could use some public funding and a professional curator to de-clutter displays and put them in historical context.

A town on Great Plains is a proper place for this type of exhibition. Agriculture machines are what made cultivating prairie on industrial scale possible. Cars connected it to the rest of the country.

What surprises me is the number of companies that produced cars as Ford T came along. Who has ever heard of Overland cars? Or Hupmobile? Peerless, anyone?

It seems, at first cars were sold in areas close to factories. The cars in the collection have fact sheets including price when new. Looks like Henry Ford’s major innovation was in production process, including the famous color black decision, which allowed him to cut prices and destroy competition despite higher transport costs. Ford has been using railways for delivery while undermining that mode of transportation at the same time. Incidentally Ford believed he can make railroad more efficient by electrification and purchased himself one.

The automobile history is mirrored by a computer industry. We are yet to find a barn full of decommissioned IBM mainframes on this trip but I am sure it’s somewhere. Explosive growth of the '80s left us with a handful of manufacturers. And just as cars pushed railways out, computers would conquer our reliance on cars. The only reason to travel will be for pleasure. Everything else can be handled via internet. And cargo once again will be transported by railroads.


I try to enjoy eating out. And in most cases I don’t have to try very hard. I am not a culinary snob. Not above enjoying a fancy dinner prepared by someone who actually knows what she is doing. I am also glad if I am offered something fresh and uncomplicated in a reasonably clean environment. When a server is nice and friendly I take it as a bonus. When he is a bit busy and forgetful I don’t let it to spoil my evening. I would be useless as a food critic since I like almost anything. You have to make an effort to disappoint me.


Do you want me to take a photo of you two?, she asks. No, thank you., I shake my head. She must be blind and deaf because she yells: is it a yes or a no? Yet she is ready to jump out of her car and walk 20 yards just to take our picture. How rude of us to decline. I am getting tired of the aggressive politeness and hospitality offered here. I don’t like to trust my camera to strangers. I don’t need a proof I visited various attractions together with Damian. And, more importantly, I am used to a different protocol: it’s the people who intend to have their pictures taken that initiate the conversation. And they apologize profusely for invading privacy first.