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The Great Wide Open

The Wine: Luc Belaire Brut Gold (Product of France)

The Winery: Wine & Liquor Market (One Mile from Home)

The W(H)ine: I…Let… (The Great Wide Open)

“I…Let the Great Wide Open,

Open Wide My Soul…”

Son of the Sun -by Dierks Bentley

7/8/22 Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I…Let…Daughters Spark Delight. Without waxing long about my 36-hour Milwaukee stay, I shall forever hold precious these magical moments made with my oldest, her beau, my youngest, and her Sadie (the grand-pup: a 2-year-old English Cream Golden Retriever).

Here’s the Highlights:

· Collecting Daughter Amidst Summerfest Mayhem at Collectivo Lakefront

· Pre-Brunch Imbibe (read: Sauvignon Blanc for Breakfast) at Interval Third Warn MARN

· Sweet & Snarky Walks Down Divorce Memory Lane over Brunch at Sweet Diner

· Afternoon Arguments About Momma’s Abundant Alliteration at WOTV Blog

· Concluding Comments Inspired by the Beau’s Homemade Cocktails at Cloud Red

7/9/22 South Dakota Sky

“But sometimes I need to catch the wind And go howl at the moon…”

Son of the Sun -by Dierks Bentley

I…Let…Pearl (& Me) Camp at Night. Hipcamp is a thing. While still in northeastern Ohio, I decided I would follow through on the self-dare imposed upon planning this trip: Spend one night in my Jeep (“Pearl”) with the tops off somewhere remote, to experience a South Dakota Sky and whatever else presents when (other) people camp.

I. Don’t. Camp.

I prefer overnights on mattresses, in rooms with indoor plumbing, a pool guy, and room service.

Though I’ve grown to enjoy various and sundry couch stays with friends and family, camping remains anything but hip, in my mind.

Maybe because…

I spent one night with an ex-who-thought-it-might-be-fun-to-renovate-the-house-himself-and-took-the-entire-roof-off-one-room-on-a-day-he-couldn’t-also-put-it-back-on.

I lasted the night, if not the relationship.

7/9/22 Monroe, South Dakota.

So I sent $35.26 to farm owner Brian via Hipcamp phone app , reserving spot #4, which turned out to be the second tree from the dirt path, a few hundred feet behind the barn, away from a coop full of curious chickens.

With Pearl parked precisely beneath shady tree line, relieved from sun gaze, we set up camp.

Read: I unpacked everything inside, removed Pearl’s hard tops, folded back seats down, rolled out yoga mat, repacked Pearl in configuration allowing for all 5’7” of me to lie prostrate, uncorked a bottle of Blanc from cooler, and pinched myself pridefully.

Pearl & I enjoyed perfect peace for several hours before other campers arrived.

We toasted to new places and spaces.

Then I made an Instagram video.


We woke at 1AM to profound darkness, disrupted minimally by starry sprinkles spread across an unending South Dakota night sky. “We howled at the moon…”

An introvert’s party, a totally Hip Camp.

Thank you, Universe.

7/10/22 Badlands, Oglala Lakota Reservation

“I get some dust on my boots Found some truth in the blue…”

Son of the Sun -by Dierks Bentley

I…Let…Badlands Bring New Insight.

My Chippewa dad recommended me to Lakota colleagues known for 25 years residing “just outside” Rapid City, South Dakota, said he.

“I think they actually live in the Badlands.”

Cool, thought I. “Badlands” sounds a lot like “Badass.”

Having never traversed South Dakota, let alone the vast expanse (named “mako sica,” aka “bad lands,” by the Lakota due to its rocky terrain, profound lack of water and extreme temperatures making this countryside notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to traverse), I knew not the level of Badassness needed to access my Badlands destination.

Driving directions read:

“When you get to the prairie homestead or exit 132, go to Interior towards Scenic (an interesting little town that doesn’t really exist anymore), head south on BIA 36 (maybe?) go 21 miles to the White River and turn right or west and go to mile marker 16, right after that is a row of mailboxes and a sign that says ‘Sand Creek Rd.’ Turn left, go about a mile to a black pickup and follow the road to the right down a hill (feels like you’re falling off the earth) to the first, blue house on the right. Call if you have any problems.”

If only I could.

Miles passed without a singular creature sighting paired perniciously with cell coverage lapse, prompting invocations to all known Deities (and a few I made up).

Even as her driver panicked, Pearl followed directions perfectly.

Soon enough, black truck parked precariously roadside (circa 1928?), Pearl initiated our delicate descent of afore-mentioned hill. We got some mega dust on our proverbial boots.

Then, to our mutual relief - like an emerging mirage in the Sahara - we witnessed two of the most beautiful strangers ever encountered.

When tribe and tribulation alone is Known, the mysterious Great Unknown remains nothing to be feared but rather, Revered.

On the Word of Kindred Spirit, they took me in. And we “Found some truth in the blue” (house).

We exchanged stories.

They, Of recent near-fatal auto accident. Of government imposition upon Native sovereignty. Of cherished children’s accomplishment (and struggle).

Me, of grateful gathering. Of paternal perspective. Of indigenous inquiry.

We, of educator’s enlightenments. Of entrepreneurial enterprises. Of Badlands Badassness…

So, human. So, connected. So, diverse. So much in common.

Then it rained. And I failed epically in first attempt to climb Pearl & I up the dirt drive away from the blue (house).

Then came the best of humanity, the graciousness of formerly unknown hosts racing to our assistance, reassuring us of possibilities, and resting our anxieties by taking the Wheel

Thus, our second final farewells took place at dirt road’s end, with no certitude of future connection, though hugs held us close momentarily, a shared energy that carried Pearl & I securely into the Great Wide Open…

…To Mount Rushmore…Crazy Horse…Hot Springs…across Wyoming’s wondrous prairie.

Opening wide the soul each blessed, bittersweet mile away from new friends

towards Home, Reclaimed, Home.Finding truth in the blue” …feelings & sky.

What will you LET…OPEN WIDE YOUR SOUL???????????


#ReclamationRoadtrip #TheGreatWideOpen #Healing @whineonthevine @lisamaaca

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