Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 3, South Dakota

Love the curves of I-90 in South Dakota     

Near the Badlands turn-off,  SD  

Oh, gosh, we found some shade!  

Coming into the farmlands from the wild grasslands

I am getting a little tired. Made it into South Dakota, but did not make it out. 346 miles, five and a half hours of driving. Crossed the time zone line though, and entered Central Time from Mountain Time (in Murdo, South Dakota), so I lost an hour. Still I did pretty well for a slow one-legged grandmother with an elderly dog. Pretty darn well. The hardest part of the day is the getting going and the getting done. It is very challenging to hump in the luggage, the dog, the dog stuff, and the computer. And the leg stuff. Crutches are necessary to hop around the motel room once the leg comes off at the end of the day, which it must. Just to snazzy life up a bit, I have a new tattoo on my prosthesis leg. A black butterfly.  Yes, black can be grim, but butterflies symbolize the transformation that has occurred.  
So, I left Gillette, Wyoming, and passed what looked like a seam of a coal mine on the north of the highway, and a long line of coal cars on the railroad tracks to the south. Here and there in Wyoming, cute little oil wells in the cattle fields. Horses out grazing. Saw more wonderful big wide skies, open road, very little traffic, and every now and then, a town. Signs for the way to Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Statue, and the Devil’s Tower (Exit 153).  I did not turn down these roads, I visited these wonderful places in 2006 with my hubby.  Seeing them again without him would just make me wish he was with me, so I flew by with good memories. I didn’t really mind the country, did not find it monotonous, in fact, found it calming and peaceful and wonderful and rare. Was curious about Exit 205, because down that road was “A National Historic Place, Ranch A.” Would have liked to see that, but Yoko would have cooked in the car.  She saves me lots of time and money, because I cannot leave her in the car.  There were 12 foot high snow drift fences at the side of the road. . . I can just imagine what winter must be like here. Every now and then there was a sin that said, “if yellow lights are blinking, then turn back into (the last town).”  They have to close the highway, apparently, for blizzards. Why not?
When I got to South Dakota, the Indian heritage was emphasized at the rest stops with a huge tipi pole sculpture. But then again, it looked like an empty lodge. The information stands were staffed and friendly.  I’m still on 1-90, haven’t left it. Speed limit is still 75. Have seen just a few police cars.  And just one accident. . . a truck that jackknifed it’s camper trailer. No one hurt.
The biggest congestion I saw was around Rapid City, South Dakota, and Ellsworth Airbase. . . billboards, chain fast foods, malls, subdivisions, new construction!! OMG! But then it thinned out again to pure country again. I feel such relief when in very rural setting! I have become such a country girl, I don’t know how I’ll handle gridlock again.
I started seeing signs for a drug store, and the billboards continued for miles. Wall Drug. Of course, I swung into Hall to see what the heck this was all about, and parked Yoko in the shade of a building. I went in and peeked around for ten minutes, and I have to say, it’s the best tourist trap I’ve seen for years.  I think Disney based some of their animations on what goes on at the Wall Drug.  I got back to the car before Yoko had a chance to get hot, and headed back to the highway. I saw the exit for the “Badland Scenic Loop”. . . no mention of how many hours it takes (half a day!) and how many miles. . . many!  Another adventure Jim and I and Yoko had in 2007.
Next, drove through the area where the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands wave in the wind. Soon after that, the 1800’s town, which I think was the set for Dances With Wolves. (Exit 170) There are spotty herds of beef cattle out here, so don’t know how they filmed without getting in a line of barbed wire or a black beef cow. And then, through Murdo, and Yoko and I stopped at a rest area where the cottonwood trees provided some of the only shade we’ve experienced out here at a rest area.  I called ahead and made a reservation at the Best Western in Chamberlain.  Now the terrain is more rolling and cultivated, lots of huge round hale bales everywhere. Property broken into farms.  Big tractors working in the hay fields. And . . . how wonderful! I didn’t realize it, looking at my tiny map, but I got to cross the Missouri River into Chamberlain, and it’s not flooding, as it was in July when I crossed it further north. So good to see the river. I have finally torn myself away from Montana, and I think in a few days, I’ll really be close to my Cape Cod stomping grounds. Help me avoid the flooding in PA, NY, CT, etc. I know it’s been a rough few weeks for the Northeast, and here I come!  And I like this vintage Best Western, it is right near the river in town. I went back to the Pizza Hut that sits of the best piece of real estate in the area and looks over the Missouri River Bridge. What a sunset. Dinner with a view for less than $10, and Yoko in the cooling night air in the car. Everything’s fine. 

east side of the Missouri River at Chamberlain, SD

1 comment:

Frances said...

These are the views which you could also get to enjoy in North Dakota especially if you get one of those properties at the 55th Crossing development so that you could enjoy these views whenever you wish.