A prarie dog.
"Let me at those toes!"
While in Memphis we realised that were travelling across America faster than we had intended. We were also feeling frustrated with being limited only to the cities that the Greyhound buses visited and then being restricted by poor public transport. It was time to get a car and go on a road trip.
One of the places we had both wanted to see in America was Mount Rushmore. We consulted our map and decided we should go to Dallas and set out from there. Luckily the bus we got was fairly quiet as the journey from Memphis was 8 hours.
After a night in a motel, we took a cab to the car rental office and picked up our Chevvy HHR. Not the prettiest looking car but it was economic which was important as we had a lot of miles to cover. After a couple of wrong turns we were on the highway heading North through Texas towards Oklahoma. The temperature was hitting 100 degrees F as we arrived in the Wichita Mountains wildelife reserve late in the afternoon. As we set up camp, we noticed there were wild turkeys and deer roaming the area. We had been told
at the visitor centre that there was a lot of wildlife to see elsewhere so we went for a drive around the park. We stopped at Prairie Dog Town where the residents were friendly but Steph was afraid they would bite her toes. There were also herds of wild bison which we had to stop for to let them cross the road. On the way back we saw something crawling along the side of the road. On closer inspection, this turned out to be a tarantula! As we sat around our campfire at night we heard strange noises coming from the trees and could see the reflections from eyes when we shone our torches. We were being watched by racoons which we had been told would steal anything left out overnight so we made sure we packed everything away before going to bed. We had already learned our lesson after being robbed of our bread by squirrels in Nashville.
We stopped to admire the views from Mount Scott on the way out of the park and then headed north towards Kansas. The roads were flat and long as we drove past miles and miles of wheat fields stopping for breaks
Richard's new favourite rock.
at the occasional interesting features like Red Rock Canyon and Little Sahara parks. We had intended to stop in the town of Alva but as it was harvest time, all the motel rooms were full of workers who had arrived with the huge convoys of farm machinery to cut the wheat. We drove a bit further north and arrived in the small town of Medicine Lodge where we were able to get a room for the night.
The next day as we drove through Kansas, the radio was warning of tornadoes spreading across the state and hailstones the size of quarters (same size as a 10p coin) but we were able to keep just ahead of the storms. We arrived in Grand Island just inside the Nebraska state line as the rain finally caught up with us. We checked into a Motel and were glad there wasn't any huge hail here as our car wasn't under any cover. Later that night there was an amazing electrical storm with lightning that lit up the whole sky. We were glad to be watching this from the comfort of our room.
In the morning, the storms had cleared and we headed north west
on scenic highway 2 towards the town of Alliance. The road took us through the sparsley populated sandhills and the only other signs of life along the road were the mile long coal trains which had over 100 carriages. At the end of this road we visited the unusual tourist attraction of Carhenge. A collection of old cars arranged like Stonehenge in the middle of a field and painted a ghostly grey. It was quite surreal. We continued on to Fort Robertson state park, an old US army base during the battles with the Indians. This was where Crazy Horse was killed after surrenduring. We set up our camp beside the old fort cemetery (not by choice) and had bison burgers for dinner at the fort restaurant.
We had heard there were horse rides available at the fort so in the morning we went to see if we could go on one. We were in luck, there was one about to leave to trek up to the top of the nearby Butte. We were assigned our horses and for the next 75 minutes we were cowboys, slowly treking up the hill and back down again. When Kylo and Melvin dropped
Why?? This was the result of a family get together (piss up!).
us off back at the stables we were both a little saddle sore! We then continued our journey into South Dakota and found a nice cabin to stay in at Hot Springs which was to be our base while exploring the Black Hills.
We set off early the next day and drove to Custer state park where we followed the wildlife trail where we saw Prong Horn deer (like an antelope), herds of Bison and stopped to feed some donkeys. We then drove the Iron Mountain road which took us to the base of Mount Rushmore via hairpin bends, "pigtail" bridges and narrow tunnels. The monument was very impressive and we had a picnic underneath the 60 foot faces. The next stop was the Crazy Horse memorial which is still under construction (and will be for another 50 years) but when complete will be the largest sculpture in the world, even bigger than the great pyramid. Only the face is complete at the moment but you can see where his arm and the horses head are going to be. We could have bought a lump of the blasted rock as a souvenir but we didn't fancy carrying it around for
the rest of the year. Our journey back to Hot Springs took us along the Needles highway, another winding road with unusual rock formations and a tunnel right through the mountain.
We had realised that were now fairly near Yellowstone park and decided we could vist it before turning back and heading for Dallas. We headed east into Wyoming and stopped at the Devil's Tower national monument as featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as a pile of mashed potato. To get to Yellowstone we had to drive over the Big Horn mountains which still had snow on top. Down the other side we went down through a steep canyon and almost melted the brakes on the car. The road then took us across some grassy plains and into Cody, rodeo capital of America where we stayed the night.
The next day was geyser day. The road to Yellowstone climbed steadily higher until we were surrounded by snow again. As we dropped down into the caldera, we could already smell the sulpherous fumes coming up from the bowels of the earth. More evil than rotten eggs. There wer many intersting sights to see along the road that looped
Heading up the Butte!
It's pronounced beaut
around the park. At the first stop we saw hot water pools like a jacuzzi on overdrive and pools of bubbling mud. Then we visited the Yellowstone river canyon which had very impressive waterfalls although we couldn't get to see the tallest one as the path had been closed because of the treaturous conditions. By now we were beginning to feel quite cold and wished we had some warmer clothes. At Norris Geyser Basin, we walked among steaming fumeroles and geysers and were lucky enough to see a small geyser called the forgotten fumerole errupt. Surrounded by green forests, this barren area looked like something from a sci-fi movie. We tried to see the grand prismatic spring which is supposedly very coulourful but as it was so cold, the steam all but obscured the view. We finished up at Old Faithful arriving not long before it was due to errupt. It was freezing as we sat waiting for it but it was worth it when it errupted, sending water and steam high into the air. As we left the park it started to snow and we were glad to be heading back down off the mountains. We passed through the
Teton National park on the way and admired the beautiful scenery with snow topped moutains rising up from the clear blue lakes. As the sun was setting, we arived in Dubois (dew boys) and were glad to get to a nice motel with wood lined rooms and a warm bed.
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