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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Awning of a New Day.

Today we are going to attempt to predict the future, the near future, this summer, in general, our vacation plans this summer, in particular. We are going to visit Pukwana South Dakota (and points west, and some points east, and maybe even a point south). The home of the Puk U Bar and Grille and Lawn Mower Race Arena. It is a delightful place, owned by my cousin Marcie, a hard working entrepreneur who has managed to carve out a successful business in the windswept, indifferent plains of Central South Dakota.

Here is the Puk U, the awning is new, at least this is the first time I've seen it.
Those who know me, understand my long, comfortable relationship with cold beer and Kentucky bourbon, (and Tennessee sour mash, and rye from a small distillery in Iowa) and the Puk U has both in generous supply. Though, finding a Puk U t-shirt in the appropriate size is difficult, they are a very hot commodity, still, I have not given up. There is also a wonderful menu, featuring many local favorites, all prepared to order (if the grill is on) and served with cold beer.

But, the real draw is the lawn mower races. People take small, riding lawn mowers and modify them using mechanical prowess, Midwest ingenuity,  and the burning desire to take something designed to be a functional and only slightly dangerous, and turn it into something fast, fun and much more dangerous. It is human nature.  These modified mowers travel at... they go...  reach speeds of... well I don't know how fast they go, but they really go, rocketing around an oval track at speeds approaching way faster than a person should be driving a lawn mower. Which makes for a wonderful spectator sport.

Of course, no true spectator sport is complete without a little action on the side.   Lawn mower races provide this through the process of auctioning racers.  You bid on the drivers, and if they win you get a portion of the prize money, which comes from the auction itself, almost a zen koan, the gambler waging on his \ her own ability to pick the right racer on which to wager.  You see, this is culturally enlightening as well as exciting.

An actual, professional auctioneer is employed to expedite this process. There is something hypnotic, mesmerizing in the cadence of an auctioneer's call. After sitting through the first several racers the siren's song won, it was addictive, and I was powerless to resist,  and had to bid, finally managing to win. Naturally, since I had won the right to root for the racer and would get a part of his winnings, the poor guy never stood a chance. His lawn mower, recognizing the curse that I routinely bestow on various sports teams, actually gave up and stopped without finishing a whole lap. Curses can be funny things, who knew they understood the workings of the internal combustion engine.

But, never quit, that's my motto, (unlike certain lawn mowers) and I am going back this summer. I have been working on my ability to exude a winning demeanor to machinery (mostly by talking to cars in parking lots) and plan on watching my racer cross the finish line, that would be a victory, at least for me.

If you happen to be driving across South Dakota on I90 and see the sign for Pukwana, stop in, find  the Puk U, it is not difficult to locate, it is right next to the race track, and very near to the Fire Station, I think, have a beer, and a shot of bourbon, a good meal (if the grill is on) and leave a very generous tip.  We are talking about family here.

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