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I am writing to you from a little motel in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Matt and I have a lovely little two bedroom motel room with wifi and a refridgerator and everything. It’s perfect. And cheap too! 🙂 Because of the wifi, I am able to bring you the first update on the Radniecki road trip of 2009! The nutshell version anyway…
We set out heading west on Wednesday. We made it to Sioux Falls, SD before we called it a night. We stopped in Watertown, SD at the Terri Redlin art gallery, which was fantastic. He is a well known painter and he is so talented. There is a series of 7 paintings that particularly hit home called “An American Dream.” If you are bored, try googling it, I would assume you could find a description about it. It chronicals an American family as they go through the years and life and times change… each painting in his gallery has a plaque underneath it that explains what is going on the painting. It was almost like reading a book about it, the descriptions were so detailed and moving. Great place to stop if you ever get the chance…
Thursday, we made our way to Rapid City.
We drove through the Badlands and stopped frequently for some great photos. I haven’t had any time to even download the photos off my camera, but I will get to that sometime. [Probably soon because my card might fill up if I don’t empty it within a few days!]
We did not hit Wall Drug which seems like a shame based on the literally dozens of billboards we saw saying how wonderful it is. But the badlands were great enough for me to justify missing Wall Drug. We tried to visit a fossil museum too, but along with a lot of the attractions out here, it was closed for the season. Apparently lots of things are seasonal out here, and so are not open for exploration right now. We didn’t consider that in our planning, but it’s been ok, the main things we wanted to see have been available. As we head south, I imagine more things will be open because of the warmer weather…
We spent the night in Rapid City Thursday night.
Friday, we headed to Mt. Rushmore. It was CHILLY up there; windy and about 45 degrees. We had fun walking the half mile trail that takes you up close and personal to the mountain though. Plus, we saw some billy goats chowing down on grass too! We did some sightsee-driving too, and saw some lovely dilapitated barns and sheds [my obsession lately]. The afternoon was spent driving to Sundance, Wyoming.
We expected Sundance to be a little larger than it was based on how it was described in the brochures, but it was a teeny little western town. We stayed in a very bare and tiny motel room, but hey, what can we say, at least the heat worked! We were checking in and the lady gave us some coupons for places to eat dinner. Then she said, you might want to turn the heat on before you go out to dinner. We walked into our room and I’d guess the temps were about 50 degrees. Even colder than my bedroom at my parents house, brrr!! We cranked the heat and then later once we got back from dinner, we realized that we probably were a little overzealous with the heat, because it was roughly ohhh… 85 degrees in the room after a few hours. We didn’t have a thermostat, but that’d be my guess. It was HOT. So since we knew we wouldn’t freeze to death in our sleep, we were able to turn the temp down to a more moderate setting.
This morning [Sat], we headed to Devils Tower. Lucky for us, the beautiful blue skies of Friday had vanished and we were right in the middle of a rain storm, half the size of Wyoming. We were able to head to the monument in between rain showers and with the help of our new red umbrella, I managed to get a few pictures of Devil’s Tower too. Plus a few of the huge flock of wild turkeys we saw in the park! That was neat to see. They were attempting to cross the street, in a single file line, when we drove up. I made Matt stop for them, and I got a few pictures out the window. Kind of homely looking creatures, but I love wildlife, so I wasn’t picky…
Then we had a decision to make as to the plan and route for the rest of the day. We had two options, both getting us to the general area we are in tonight, the SW corner of the state. One was the take the fast way – the freeway and hit mostly prairie along the way. The interstates don’t have much for pull offs for photos either. The other was to take smaller roads that would take us substantially longer, but hit two scenic byways and some mountains and such along the way. I obviously wanted to do the scenic route, but I was nervous because of the rain and the way the clouds looked. If you could have seen it, it looked like a blizzard off in the distance. I had a few mild freak outs before Matt told me if would be ok, and we could do the scenic route even though it’d take longer. I was so happy but I was still nervous for part of it [I have some very short fingernails tonight!] We went through the southern part of the Big Horn mountains and stopped at some overlooks. There was one point, the tallest part that we hit today, and we got out of the car to look at the sign and were almost bowled over with the wind! I ran to the car and seriously almost felt like I was running in place because of the wind. Plus, I was laughing histerically. Matt make a nice joke relating to my fiasco on the airplane [if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check the post circa Sept 26th-ish about the exploding airplane pillow]. It was snowing pretty hard in several spots along our drive, and at one point we pulled over so I could take a picture of something but instead of getting out, I just rolled down the window. The snowflakes [or snow balls actually] started coming into the car with the wind. They weren’t nice little snowflakes. They were little balls that looked like white dip n dots. Matt had them all over his lap and he said, “Hey, I look like you on the airplane!” I had to take a couple pictures; I’ll post them later too. He’s a good sport.
Speaking of Matt, he’s had a new found love of photography since we visited the Badlands, and he has been making sure that the Canon gets some use too. I take the Sony around, and Matt uses the Canon. His favorite subject during our time passing through the Badlands, and also heading toward Mt. Rushmore, has been … not me, or us, or even the nature… It has been a Dt Mt Dew can. Weird. It’s like we don’t have kids yet, or even a pet, so he has to resort to photographing a pop can in the middle of the Badlands. They’ll look nice framed on our walls, yeah? Haha, I couldn’t stop laughing as we walked through the walkways in the Badlands and he walked ahead of me, sat the can down, ran back, and snapped a few pictures. Then he grabbed the can, brought it to a new spot and took a few more. His reply to my laugh, “I know I’m immature!” Gotta love boys, right?? 🙂
We have been pretty blessed overall with weather, nothing has made driving impossible or even moderately dangerous. We had rain the whole first day, and most of the second too, until we got to the Badlands. Friday was beautiful, and tonight was sunny too. This morning was our hardest rain [and snow] yet. But the highest temp that we have hit has been 51 degrees, so I’m kind of ready for a little warmer weather!
We are headed to Utah tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll find some refuge there. Maybe we won’t have to use the heater in the car all day there. I’m ok with bundling up, but it makes walking around the parks a little more difficult and my attention span shortens when I am becoming numb. Thank goodness I brought my winter jacket! [Can you believe I was contemplating leaving it at home?!?! I really did lose a little of my MN sense living in Hawaii!]
So for now, that completely my first installment of our road trip chronicals… We have been blessed with decent weather and we haven’t run into any major hiccups. We’ve been getting long well and enjoying ourselves. I am rubbing off on Matt, making him enjoy things like the scenery and cool looking barns etc. I’ll try to post again soon, as long as we find cheap motels that grace us with wifi!
Thanks for your prayers and your well wishes; this is a once in a lifetime chance for us to travel and experience some of America together, and we feel really blessed that we get to do this.