A Depraved Journey Across the Savage Badlands of America

This epic road trip was a lot like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without the expense account or the mescaline.

One horseless carriage, two dudes, ten days and 3,400 miles. An economic and cultural disaster. It's hard to summarize this depraved journey.

I left Seattle desperately wanting to see a bear, a moose, a buffalo and giant heads of presidents carved into a mountain. Of these, only Mr. Moose remains elusive. I drove and Todd Jose–Bear Vanecko served as navigatrix.

All of the people we met were shockingly nice. The park employees at Glacier and Yellowstone accepted us as their own. Both of the cops who pulled me over in Montana let me off with a smile and a warning . . . and that has never happened to me anywhere else in America. I could go on and on.

Don't let the friendly faces fool you, though. We saw some wild things after the sun went down. The night life in Billings, Montana, has to be seen to be believed. It's a combination of Caligula, the Thrilla in Manilla and the fall of Saigon. Rapid City, South Dakota, was tamer by comparison but we were there on a Sunday night. Except for one grim night in Boise, Idaho, we spent the rest of our nights camping.

We made brief daytime stops in Helena, Montana, and Salt Lake City, sampling the best both cities had to offer. I'll take Helena any day. The Archie Bray Foundation was an unexpected treat, especially if, like me, you're a dork with a fancy camera and an hour to kill. We also visited Sturgis, South Dakota. Our timing was impeccable: the world's largest biker rally was scheduled to begin in three days. We got to experience a little of the pandemonium without actually having to attend the event.

Teddy Roosevelt was really onto something when he created our national parks system. They were all fantastic, but Glacier was my favorite. Yellowstone was hampered by the fact that it is totally overrun with people. Nevertheless, we had a great time there and I finally saw a bear.

The Little Bighorn Battlefield, site of Custer's Last Stand, overacheived in every way. Authorities have, for the most part, left it alone and it sits in the middle of nowhere. It's very easy to stand there and visualize the battle. It fascinated me because it happened long enough ago to make it seem like distant history but recently enough that we have a fairly decent idea what happened and why. The experience has inspired Vanecko to embark upon a new career as a massacrologist.

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