We depart Chamberlain, SD after swimming, Belgian waffles, and booking our next two nights in less-than-ideal motels. The one in West Yellowstone doesn't even accept dogs, so Cricket will have to sleep in the car. Our hotel was packed with bikers heading for Sturgis. Again, I am stupefied as to why I have never heard of this event before...and why nobody else told me we might run in to some "traffic"...ahem...
I guess I run with the wrong crowd...
Today we are heading to the Badlands first, then Wall Drug, and Mount Rushmore. Then 200 miles further to our motel in Buffalo. I am sensing that we will not be alone....
Signs for the "world famous" Wall Drug are everywhere. I took this picture because that is exactly our plan!
11:23 a.m. Cloudy, 72 Degrees, Badlands National Park
We (and several thousand of our closest biker friends) are cruising through amazing vistas of striated rock formations. We run in to get a stamp at the visitors center. It smells of grass (with a faint touch of diesel?), and we can hear the cicadas chirping in the prairie...and the hogs blasting down the road.
We stop along the side of the road so that the kids can get a photo and video of real, live prairie dogs. They are so excited they cannot stop fighting over the camera and binoculars. It is a lovely sight with my kids, chirping and shouting almost as loud as the prairie dogs in their veritable "city" of mounds.
We pull into Wall Drugs, which is a road trippers must. Filled with souvenir shops, western wear, toy stores, candy shops and a little cafe, it is difficult to get the kids out of there. We obviously need to take a little time to capture moments like the above. I mean, how often do you get to sit atop a giant jackalope for a photo op? And for lunch Matt and I ate buffalo chili dogs (which I know I will seriously regret later) and the kids had doughnuts and milkshakes. I am losing my edge in my efforts to keep healthy on the road. Ugh!
So, eventually our biker friends and we depart Wall Drugs and head for Mount Rushmore, about 70 miles away.
Evidently, the party started without us, as all these friendly folks had time to stop and get liquored up before heading back on the winding road (WITHOUT helmets) to Mount Rushmore.
4:50 p.m., Sunny, 77 Degrees
We depart Mount Rushmore, after a fun time of spectacular vistas, a mile hike on the President's Trail and a visit to the museum and gift shop. Luckily for us, we ran into some nice biker fellows from Lancaster, CA, neighbors practically, who were nice enough (and sober enough?) to take our picture (not this one, but another one that I might even use for a Christmas card, with the whole family).
Then we, and thousands of our new friends, cruised out of the truly spectacular wooded Black Hills towards WY
6:00---5:00 p.m. Mountain time at Jewel Cave
Only a quick stop this time. We don't have the time or need for a tour of the 49* cave (it's a 1.5 hour tour with strenuous hikes and tight spaces), but we did need to stop and get a stamp for our passport and see the interpretive center.