Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another long driving day

Day 4: August 30, 2011

Yesterday continued uneventfully after my blog's ending point. We had a lovely drive through Wisconsin, on some windy hilly roads through gorgeous green farms and countryside. I am just in love with that state--so lush and relaxing. It speaks to me.

We crossed the Mississippi River at La Crosse, and followed the river on the Minnesota side up to I-90. And then we were back on the superslab, driving as fast as we could. We were hungry but didn't want to take the time to make dinner, so we had some fast food, not a very exciting anniversary dinner, but oh well. And then we drove until about 10:30pm when we voted to stop and spend the night at a rest stop. I have to say, I have stayed in many places noisier and more crowded. The highway itself seemed very untravelled and the rest stop had 3 cars when we pulled in. It was dark and even quiet.

We set the alarm for 6:30, hoping to get an early start today. We knew we had to make a stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for our new air conditioner cover, and Joe would have to replace it on the roof. So we were up and out early. It began to rain overnight (luckily Joe decided that would NOT make a difference to our naked AC) and it was lightly raining while we had breakfast. It was cool, too--we dressed in jeans and sweatshirts, and I was cool all morning. We turned on the radio during breakfast, and were entertained by the lead-in story of the news, that the harvest was now 60% in, and by the flat midwestern accents of the announcers. The local news was also interesting--evidently volleyball is a big deal in Minnesota, at least in the southernmost part of the state. Then we started driving and again the road was fairly empty--I don't know where everyone is this year--relatively few RVs and campers compared to the past, I think, and even fewer cars. Perhaps I-90 is just less travelled than I-80...it seemed so empty to us.

So we zoomed through Minnesota and arrived in Sioux Falls around 11 a.m. We spent about an hour at the RV dealer. They were very nice--they had the exact right AC cover, and Joe went up on the roof and had no trouble replacing it--he is just great at this stuff! I, meanwhile, purchased a few other items and made myself generally useless. We left Sioux Falls around noon and headed west again.

The rest of the day was basically about driving. At some point, it got really hot, and we changed from jeans to shorts--I think we went through a 35-degree temperature change today. South Dakota is also a beautiful state--rolling farms, mostly, and the road stretching out endlessly. We stopped for lunch--Joe made me an awesome salad!--and at a beautiful visitor's center in the center of the state near the city of Chamberlain overlooking the Missouri River. (it IS "wide" at that point!) There was also a Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center there.
Then back to the road until 4:30pm Mountain Time (we crossed another time zone--they put them out in the middle of nowhere, amid the corn) when we stopped at Wall Drug. We skipped this stop back in 2007 and I must say, we were smarter then . What a horrific collection of every kind of tchatchka in the entire world! I walked in and walked around but the entire place gave me a headache. Joe and Roxy waited outside on a shady bench and watched the people go by.

Less than an hour later, we were leaving Wall and continuing on. At this point, I started to fall apart--the heat was too much for me and I was stressing because I didn't know where we would stay tonight. I really did not want to spend a lot of money, and a lot of the campgrounds in the area of the Black Hills are ridiculously expensive. The KOA at Rapid City was listed as $25-$80. I mean, who PAYS that for a campground! But we did want internet and Joey pointed out that it would be good to have AC tonight to cool me down.

So I finally found this place called No Name City Campground. It is in Sturgis, which means we are now only about 30 miles "behind" my original day-to-day plan for this trip (obviously the mechanical problems yesterday set us behind; now we're virtually caught up.) It's small and seemed noisy to me, because it is very near the Interstate with no trees or anything as a buffer. But in that it's no different from most of the campgrounds we passed along the highway--they are all sitting out in bare fields without any charm whatsoever. I guess it's because we are on the edge of the Black Hills and not really IN them. The good news though is it only cost us $18.99, a downright steal, and we do have Internet. Today we drove 512 miles.

So now we've had our dinner, I've written this blog, and all I have to do now is wrestle with the photos from yesterday and today. Tomorrow we are on schedule to drive into Montana for the first time, stop at Little Big Horn, and then continue on to Red Lodge for the night. And then, into Yellowstone.

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