Published: July 11th 2012July 5th 2012
Well I had the worst night's sleep on the trip as I used Sofa Bed to let Kerry get a good night's sleep to get over her sniffles. All to no avail, as I was uncomfortable and the stupid glazed window let in too much light. I reckon I only got a few hours sleep and I had to prepare for the long drive to South Dakota !
We were packed and ready to leave Denver by 9.30am as soon as Luke finished watching Serena Williams get through to the Wimbledon Finals again. Mr Tom Tom was loaded with trip plan and I had the Google Maps version on my IPAD as a back up. We have found the IPAD handy as it has a GPS location device so it shows you on the map where you are at any time.
There was not much traffic as we left Denver and the weather was around mid 20's and overcast. The forecast was to get to mid 30's with chance of afternoon thunderstorms.
As we drove North we were only about 20-30 km from the Rocky Mountains but we could barely see them with all the haze from the
Colorado wildfires which have been burning for 3 weeks. Our first stint was to take us about 1 hour 45 minutes and travel 165 km across into the capital of Wyoming a city called Cheyenne.
We made good time and drove around the city to look for some good photo's. It's not a big place to be a state capital by any means (state population is about $500,000 and same as the Gold Coast back home). We stopped at Starbucks to have a quick break and grab a coffee and a cake for the kids.
Our next drive stint would take us due West into Nebraska until we reached Kimball where we turned due North to head to a place called Scottsbluff. The distance and time would be about the same as the first stint. I decided to fill up with fuel at Kimball as the tank was half empty. Usual story for me filling up with gas as it took me about 15 minutes to work out how to use the bowser (boy does our system work fine of justing lifting and pouring !).
We arrived at Gering (just near Scottsbluff) around 1.45pm and were going
to have lunch before going to see the National Monument. We drove down the main street and decided to go to the Bakery looking for a Meat Pie or Sausage Roll. No luck as all they had was cakes and bread rolls. When asked the lady at the counter offered a Cabbage Burger. What !
Decided to do Subway as it's fresh and healthy option. I had a 6 inch Tuna again but I tried the Sweet Onion sauce this time which was nice.
After that we headed to the Scottsbluff National Monument which is a huge rocky outcrop. Mr Tom Tom started playing up by sending us up a street that was headed to the monument but alas it was a dead end street. Used IPAD instead with Luke giving perfect instructions and after paying the $5- entrance fee we took the car on the summit drive to the top of the monument. We went through 3 tunnels on the drive and parked at the top where we did a 1km walk to the edge of the monument to take some nice pics. It was really hot now around 36 degrees and really windy. A bit worried
to see signs saying watch out for Rattlesnakes !
Next we would drive across into South Dakota to Hot Springs about 236km or 2.5 hours but I was concerned when Mr Tom Tom was saying this sector would take 4.5 hours to do. I figured it was wanting me to go to Hot Springs via a different direction. Hence we used the IPAD instead.
This section seemed to go on forever (maybe Tom Tom was right !). Northern Nebraska is pretty bare with what looked to be endless number of farrms with wheat or hay growing, and the odd corn field. Maybe one house every 20 kms so would hate to live out here. No towns, no roadhouses and awfully glad I filled up in Kimball.
As we approached Hot Springs we stopped at a roadhouse and inside it had a souvenir shop, a restaurant, and a TV room with a couple of rocking chairs for the truckies to use whilst watching TV ! Luke & I had a go since there was no truckies around. Appeared to be about 1 hour left to go on our Journey and the skies looked to be threatening.
had only just gotten on the 79 Nth freeway towards Rapid City when we the rain started, then got heavier and heavier and I slowed to a crawl. Notice some hail so decided to pull over the side. Cleared a bit so I drove off again. not for long as rain got heavier again. I think we pulled over about 10 times in a 30 km stretch of road. Everyone was doing the same except the Truckies who just raced along without care. Visibility at times was about 2-3 metres.
Eventually we got to the 40 Jctn and headed left into Keystone. The rain stated easing up as we climbed into the foothills of the Custer State Park. We saw some deer on the side of the roads, and before long we cruised into Keystone Vilage where we will spend the next 2 nights.
Parked right out the front of the Roosevelt Inn and the rain actually had stopped which we could hardly believe. Checked in and as time was now 7.30PM (10 hours after we left Denver) and we headed sraight next door to Grizzly Creek Restaurant where Luke & I had Buffalo Burgers which were really
nice. We could actually see Mt Rushmore from the restaurant (distant view). I was a bit thirsty after the long drive so I bought a 24 oz Budweiser for only $5- ! That is 710ml in our language so pretty god value I say. Kerry had a couple of glasses of Riesling and we chilled for a while as the kids went back to the Hotel to watch TV.
Well what a bugger of a day but we are here and after a good nights rest hopefully the rain goes away and we can have a nice time in the Black Hills area.
There are more photos below