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Published: July 26th 2012
We gathered our stuff from the flooded campsite and dried it in the sun for a few hours.
Last night, as we were going to bed, the next storm came in. WOW. Tony estimates that there were, on average, a dozen bolts of lightening per second. We have video of the approach of that storm which we will attempt to upload. We tried to watch "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs". The continuous thunder was so loud that we could not hear the movie at all. We opted to go to bed early. Michelle was really scared by the storm (which had increased to nearly 2 dozen bolts per second) so we all cuddled and finally fell asleep. The storm lasted nearly 4 hours at that intensity before finally clearing.
This morning, when we woke up, it was like the scene in "Independence Day" when Will Smith's character wakes up and sees all the neighbors packing up. Everyone was collecting their belongings from wherever they floated to, people were hanging things out to dry. Many of the tent campers were using their cars as giant drying racks. There was a crowd at the laundry, and the showers were packed, as was the pancake tent. We took a walk around the campsite to survey the damage. We found a
Even with all the flooding, the campsite is worth it... t his is our view from our trailer door.
nearly drowned mole that was not going to survive, so Tony used the "Rock of Mercy" to put it out of it's misery. There were piles of rock and sand all over, and the KOA crew were hard at work clearing the roads and the facilities. (Over the past few days, we have seen construction crews building new roadbase by brining in dirt and rock. They had not yet compressed the new roads, so in the rain, all of that material came down to the bottom of the gulch and settled around everyone's campsites.)
Tony woke up really early (5am) when the sun came up to put all of our wet stuff out to dry. We did one load of laundry for the really wet things, and the rest of the stuff was dry by 9, so we packed up and left. We opted to eat breakfast in Custer, SD (instead of braving the line and the tempers at the KOA).
An aside about Custer... There are several towns close to Mt Rushmore. With the exception of custer, they all are very heavily tourist towns, with themed gas stations, adventure companies, attractions, signs, advertising, etc. And they are
Ever wonder what is inside of a buffalo.
also pretty crowded. Custer is not like that at all. It is a sleepy little town, but very nice. It has all of the services you need on a road trip (gas, repair, restaurant, grocery, etc) without the crowds and without the tourist traps. And it is not really that far from the KOA or the monuments/parks.
On our way out of the area, we passed near Wind Cave National Park (where we had such a great time on the way in). A fire started there the day after we visited, and it has grown quite large. The entire park is closed, and we could see the smoke from several points far apart from each other on the horizon (ouch). We passed by the base of operations which was quite busy. It looks like they expect it to be a long battle given the size of the camp and the fact they were still assembling it 3 days later.
The roads from the Black Hills area (Mt Rushmore) to Cheyenne are very desolate. Lots of open range cattle, some farming, but not many people or towns. We are (or at least had been) pretty picky about the type
the camp they used for the Wind Cave fire
of gasoline we put into our cars, preferring brand name (shell, chevron, etc). We did not find any of those in the towns that we passed. In the last town before Cheyenne (about 75 miles away), we saw a small no-name gas station. We looked at our estimated miles to empty and it said something like 140, so we decided we had plenty of gas. As we got closer to Cheyenne, the estimated miles crept closer to the actual miles. About 30 miles out, we noticed that the estimated miles went down 2-3 miles for every actual mile we travelled. About 5 miles out of Cheyenne, the estimated went to 0, which normally means that we have about a gallon left. Not this time, though.
We were headed uphill against the wind, and it wasn't 30 seconds later that we actually ran out of gas. We had about 1/2 gallon of gas in our spare tank, which Tony put in, but that only got us about 50 feet. We called AAA and they estimated 90 minutes for help to reach us (a big fair is in town and only 1 of the 2 Cheyenne based tow companies was
operational). Tony opted to hitch a ride for gas. After about 20 people passed by without stopping, a couple going the OTHER way stopped. They were local and took Tony to their house to see if they had gas in their garage. Apparently their older son (who made a habit of driving the various gas powered machinery until the gas was gone then leaving it where it lay) had used all of the gas. The man was nice enough to drive Tony in his truck to get gas for us and for him, then drop Tony back off at the van. He wouldn't let us pay for his gas (which we insisted on doing), saying that we could buy his gas when he ran out in California! He also said that people run out of gas on that stretch all the time. We figure it is the large number of uphill stretches and the constant headwind that reduced our gas mileage.
While filling with (the rest of) the gas in Cheyenne we saw something you won't see in California anymore. A truck pulled up with a large tarp lining it's bed and 8 or so college students wearing swimming
Welcome to Colorado.... AFTER merging.
attire. Yes, it was a mobile swimming pool. Out of respect for the barely-clad people we did not take a picture. (also, we didn't think about it at the time).
We made it to Fort Collins (passing the Frontier Days fair in Cheyenne that everyone keeps talking about). Our friends were not home yet, so we had dinner at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. They had a cool trivia game there where you could compete against others in the restaurant and also rank against other people in other towns. We won the first 2 games by a large margin. Early in the third game, our friends called and so we didn't finish (we were NOT in the lead anyway 😊
This evening we are boon-docking in front of our friend Kurts's house. (former co-worker and former roomate). He had family over as well, who we hadn't seen in 10 years. It was a nice reunion. This was our first experience boon-docking at someone's house, and it was fine. No nosey neighbors, no barking dogs.
Tomorrow we are promised amazing breakfast and then we will drive to Colorado to visit Cousins.
Tony's Trailering Tips: If you
Had a fantastic time with our friends in Fort Collins!
are debating about whether to get gas, the answer is YES... ALWAYS.
Anne's Anecdotes: Aftering encountering unexpected obstacles on the road, it is OK to reward your children with junk food from the convenience store.
Michelle's Musings: Sometimes it is fun to just play with another kid for a while.
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; mem: 1.3mb