TeamRaymond Across America - Day Three

Posted by: elraymundo at 10:53 am on Thursday, April 17, 2008
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Lotus Blossom, Travel, Friends, Jeep

Hot Springs, South Dakota
Written in room 120 at the Super 8 Motel
Miles today: 450
Total miles: 1876
Number of states: 10
Number of McDonald’s stops: 2
Today’s route: Sioux Falls -> Hot Springs

Greetings from Hot Springs, South Dakota!

We’re parked at the Super 8, which sits right next to the Mammoth Site. We’ll be heading over there in a bit to see whatever there is to see wooly mammoth-wise.

The weather was mostly junk yesterday. No rain, but lots of grey clouds which did break up some in the late afternoon. I was hoping for some good, low-level evening light when we passed by Mount Rushmore (the photo-geek in me wanting his photo ops) and even though we didn’t get it, the carved face of the mountain was still awesome and inspiring. Even from the road outside the park the sight of the sculptures in incredible - especially the way they pop out from behind the trees as you round a bend in highway 16a when coming south from Cedar Rapids. It’s just incredible.

The road continues winding through the Black Hills with the mountain on the right, and every once in a while the clouds would part and the dark green hills would light up with evening sunlight. We didn’t stop at Crazy Horse this time, having seen it and climbed to the face a couple of years ago, but we did see it from a distance…Crazy Horse’s arm pointing forward out over the neck and head of his war horse.

Also along the way yesterday we took a drive through the Badlands and then up to Wall, where we stopped at Wall Drug for donuts (we ate A LOT of donuts at Wall Drug when we were there in 2005). Unfortunately, the time of day and the grey skies made photography in the Badlands pretty much useless, but we did enjoy the drive among the rock pillars and spikes and needles and buttes and mesas and never once did we see an anvil crashing on a coyote’s head.

Then again, we were probably in the wrong area for that. Maybe in a couple of days, when we get to Arizona.

Today we’re heading south and a little west from Hot Springs. We’ll slice through the very eastern edge of Wyoming and down through Cheyenne on our way to Denver, where we’ll stay with Mark and Keri, their three daughters, one dog, cat and obscenely-stocked wine cellar.

What I am hoping is that we’ve seen the last of the fierce headwinds that have blown since Indiana. On the ocean crossing to Antarctica last year we learned that fetch is the distance across which wind can blow unobstructed. Since wind causes waves and waves cause rough seas, fetch is a good thing to understand when sailing. Well, from the Rockies to the Appalachians there is nothing to break the wind - meaning that there is a hell of a lot of fetch in the oh-so-flat Midwest. So driving a canvas-topped cube at 85mph into super-strong headwinds has not been fun. I think we’re getting about 5 miles to the gallon as a result of the wind resistance and the sound of the wind inside the Jeep has been FEROCIOUS. The guys at the dealership said they had fixed the air leak where the canvas top meets the top frame of the windshield. The fact that Debra and I have to shout to hear each other over the wind noise tells me that the dealership guys don’t know squat about fixing air leaks.

And so it goes. But we’re having a good time.

Ok, we’re off to see the Famous Woolly Mammoth of Hot Springs. More tomorrow!

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