Decided to stop for the night in Rapid City, and check on the forecast for tomorrow's last leg. I was ever so thrilled to see that the Weather Channel indicated heavy snow for the entire leg between Rapid City through Butte on I-90. I also noticed that New Mexico is under tornado and flood watches. It's kind of weird to see really bad weather in the two places from which I began and will end this trip.
On the good side, gas has been way cheaper than I planned on. I've actually had a half a dozen tanks cost me less than three dollars per gallon. That makes a big difference on a trip of this length. The other thing I've noticed is that in general the motels don't have enough business to keep themselves open. Last night the motel we stayed in had 50 some rooms and four total cars in their parking lot. It seems travel at this time of year is way way down. I have visited national and state parks where we have been the only people there. It's kind of weird, but it does give one the freedom to see things at their leisure.
Today we stopped in Pipe Stone, Minnesota. This is the quarry in which the red stone used for ceremonial peace pipes in most North American tribes is quarried. Although it's a national park, only blood native Americans can quarry the stone. There is a long waiting list. I have some great pictures of the place, but down loading photos from my camera is an issue. Apparently this Google program has trouble with photos that have large mega pixel values. The camera I'm using on this trip takes 12.3 mega pixel photos which is great for maintaining magnified close ups, but not for this blogsite. I got so excited about Pipe Stone, I forgot to dumb down the photos. Oh well.
The interesting thing about Pipestone is that many, many plains tribes considered this a sacred site, and pipe bowls made from this stone were considered very sacred. In order to quarry stone, natives would undertake three day purification rituals before entering the area, and weapons and attitudes were forbidden. There is a very serene quality to the place to this day. It really does feel sacred.
I was given a Pipe Stone pipe some time ago, but have never used it. I fully understand what smoking a peace pipe means, and have resisted accepting the responsibility of being a pipe carrier. Being a pipe carrier is similar to being a priest. One is a servant to the needs of others for prayer and ceremony, and right now my life is a little too chaotic to actually activate the pipe I keep. Being a pipe keeper is different. This essentially means I just keep the pipe until I am given a message to pass it on to a pipe carrier. I seriously doubt I'll be given a message to pass this pipe on, but I also haven't been given a clear message to have it blessed and activate it.
I think this trip is preparation for activation. It's funny sometimes how you find yourself dragged into commitments you wouldn't normally make. Activating a pipe can be a big commitment.
On a less personal level, it seems that Pipe Stone pipe stone has a similar kind of otherside connection capability that crystals do for the south western tribes. Holy persons of south western tribes can activate a crystal and see what amount to videos in the crystals. Pipe stone seems to have an auditory rather than visual connection for the Plains tribes. In both cases these specific earth articles have very specific spiritual properties and psychic enhancement attributes. In that sense they are spiritual tools.
In Catholicism our tools would be consecrated bread and wine and blessed relics and other objects, but our tools don't have the same connections as crystals or a very specific stone for sacred pipes. Tonight I am just too tired to go into the thinking I did while passing the hours it takes to drive the entirety of South Dakota and most of Minnesota. I'll tackle this when I get home.
In the meantime, getting home tomorrow may take more effort than I originally thought, and if I have to get into four wheel drive, a lot more time. So it may be a few more days before I post my thinking. Until then may we all have safe journeys.