Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2017 Trip to the Midwest Part 1

For pictures, click here. 

Day 1 6/4/17:
We left home at 6:30 in the morning and planned to camp at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. But we hit rainstorms on and off all day so we decided to save this spot for a later date. Then we got to St. Louis but the traffic and the rain was messy and we thought about staying in St. Charles, on the other side of St. Louis but we kept on going. Finally we found a Hampton Inn ($92) in Columbia, MO where we stayed around 8pm (CT). Then we headed to the Cracker Barrel, which was almost impossible to get to, where we ate dinner. We had traveled through 6 states today: SC, NC, TN, KY, IL, MO.

Day 2 6/5/17:
We headed out at 8am and skipped stopping in Kansas City. We wanted to go to the TWA museum but it was closed on Mondays. Then we were going to the Harley Davidson Factory Tour only to learn that it was closed until August! So, we moved on north towards South Dakota. We stopped in Sioux City, Iowa at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino so we could buy a Hard Rock bottle opener for our collection. Then we stopped in Sioux Falls, SD to see the beautiful waterfalls in the middle of town. We finally decided that we would head toward the Badlands and stop somewhere along the way. When we came to Mitchell, SD around 5:30pm, we remembered stopping at the Corn Palace years ago and decided to stay in town. We stayed at the Coachlight Motel ($55) and ate dinner at the Corona Village ($21). We would go back to both next time we visit.  After dinner we went to the Corn Palace again and then went to WalMart to stock up on some sandwich fixings.

Day 3 6/6/17:

We left Mitchell, SD and headed towards the Badlands. It rained along the way and I was afraid that we wouldn’t get to camp but by the time we got to the Badlands, it was pretty outside. We also crossed into the Mountain Time Zone. We drove to the campground and there was a “Campground Full” sign outside but we asked the young man if he thought anyone was leaving today. He said he had plenty of tent sites so we got on site #34 which was a fabulous site and close to the restroom. It was challenging to put up our new tent because the wind was blowing so hard. In fact, we had to go buy some more stakes at the camp store. Then we had a peanut butter and jelly/honey sandwich for lunch before driving on the loop road. We stopped at 1:30 to hear the Fossil Talk by the ranger. We enjoyed seeing the scenery and then ended up in Wall where the Wall Drug was. We spent time wandering around there and taking photos before going to the Wall Food store and then heading back to the campsite. During the day we saw a bighorn ram, a flock of bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, globe mallow, and deer. We sat and watched the beautiful sunset as we had ate our sandwiches for dinner. The stars didn’t come out until 9:30 when we went to bed.

Day 4 6/7/17:

It was daylight by 4:15 in our tent so I got up. Don got up around 5:30 because it was so bright outside. We sat around and waited for the lodge to open for breakfast at 7am. Then we went to the Minuteman Missile Visitor Center to see if we could get a reservation for a tour but they were sold out for today. But they suggested I call to see if there were any cancellations and I was surprised to find out that they had been sold out for months. Luckily someone cancelled at 7am today for June 20 which is when we will be back so we made the reservation for 1:15 pm. Then we decided to ride the loop road in a different area along a road that goes south towards Interior. It ended up being a dirt road and was interesting. Apparently, it had been an old railroad town and there were old cars and foundations of some buildings. We also saw a sign that said that we were in the area of the plague. When we got back to the campground, we had peanut butter and jelly/honey sandwiches before heading to the visitor center. We watched the movie about the park and then went hiking. We walked the Cliff shelf nature trail which was nice. Then we hiked the “Window” and the “Door”. We went back to our car for drinks and went beyond the “Door” for another mile hike. Today we saw prairie dogs, magpie, western meadowlark, antelope, deer, thistle, blooming cactus, and rabbit. After hiking we had dinner at the lodge and then relaxed at the campsite until bedtime.

Day 5 6/8/17:

We got up early and headed to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. First we stopped in Rapid City to eat breakfast, get gas, and resupply at Walmart. We got to Devil’s Tower around 11am and the line to get in the entrance station was really long. We were afraid that we weren’t going to be able to get a campsite but we did. We got site A3 which was right across from the bathroom. There were a lot of prairie dogs in the field next to the campground. Then we went to the visitor’s center and hiked the Tower trail around the base of the tower. Along the way we saw a few deer. Then we drove into Hulett and had an early dinner before going back to the campsite. It was interesting to watch all the drama happening. One group had paid for the site and put their tag on the post. Another man and his children came and set up camp on the same site. The campground host came and sorted it out by letting the group set up their tent on his site. It was so nice that we were able to keep the rainfly open all night long and the lovely breeze blew through the tent.

Day 6 6/9/17:

We got up early and left about 6:30am for Deadwood, SD. We found a room at the Gold Country Inn for $99 per night but it wouldn’t be ready until after 1pm. Then we stopped at the welcome center where we found out about the PBR rodeo event in the evening. We had breakfast at the Lee St. Station and we had steak and eggs. After that we did a scenic drive to Lead, Savoy, Spearfish, and Sturgis. Along the way we saw another pronghorn. While in Sturgis we visited an antique store. We returned to Deadwood and checked in our room. After a quick shower, we hopped on the trolley ($1 per person) and took it to the rodeo so we could buy our tickets. After getting tickets, we walked back into town for awhile and when it was time, we hopped on the trolley again back to the rodeo. We got VIP tickets ($29 each) where we had reserved seating, dinner and soda. We got to meet the mayor of Deadwood and he was so warm and welcoming We also met a couple of authors who would be doing a book signing tomorrow. The rodeo was fabulous! Then we took the trolley back to our hotel.

Day 7 6/10/17:

We had breakfast at the Lee St. Station where I got my steak and eggs again. Then we went to the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center and got an hour long surface tour which includes a trip through historic Lead and the surface campus of Sanford Lab, including the Yates hoistroom, which houses the hoists that have been in operation since 1939 and are now used to transport scientists, experiments and equipment underground. After that we went back to our hotel and gathered our stuff to walk around town. We went up to the Tin Lizzie and had the lunch buffet ($6.99/seniors including drink). Then we saw some of the shootouts and shopped in the stores. We walked through the Celebrity Hotel and saw all the celebrity artifacts. We also went to the Midnight Star which is owned by Kevin Costner and saw many of the costumes used in his movies. We had dinner at the Lee St. Station. We went back to the hotel and rested for an hour before going to see the Capture of Jack McCall and then we went to see the show: Trial of Jack McCall.

Things I’ve Learned:

1.     We like to travel on Sundays.
2.     We can travel longer distances on the first day of the trip because we are excited.
3.     Columbia, MO is a nice place to stay.
4.     Just because the “campground full” sign is out, it doesn’t hurt to check with the registration desk.
5.     We enjoyed camping in the Badlands and liked the Agate loop inner circle.
6.     Always have sandwich makings in the car in case you get hungry and aren’t near a restaurant.
7.     Make sure you drink plenty of water even if you aren’t thirsty. The wind and sun can zap the water right out of you!
8.     One night at Devil’s Tower is enough.
9.     It is a beautiful place and we liked camping at Devil’s Tower.
10.  Two nights in Deadwood, SD was just the right amount of time.
11.  We liked to watch bull riding.
12.  I love steak and eggs for breakfast!

No comments: