The long voyage home, Day 2

We started off today here.

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This is the view from the parking lot at the hotel we stayed at last night in Newcastle, WY. Kat was doing the driving today so I played Mr. Picture Taker. I took a lot of pictures too, so I hope you’re prepared.

I took this shot just after we got back on the highway heading east. I thought Wyoming was about to get hilly. Well, I was wrong. About ten minutes after we started, we ended up on South Dakota, so those hills in the picture are actually in SD. Sorry Wyoming, no hills for you.

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We drove along for a while, and we started to get more hills…

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… and more trees.

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Then we got bigger trees.

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Eventually we made it into major forest country. In fact, we were driving through the Black Hills National Forest. This place has awesome scenery and I would recommend it to everyone.

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We came across numerous sections that seemed to have suffered major tree damage. We were wondering what the cause was and we had some theories, but if anyone knows for sure, please post a comment and fill us in on the details.

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There was also a lot of red soil. It reminded me of Prince Edward Island.

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Once we got super inundated with trees, we started to see some rocky parts too.

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Then we came across this: Crazy Horse Memorial. You can just make out the face in the rock.

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After that, we got to some seriously twisty roads, but still very scenic.

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We even found a lake with a woman in a kayak just being lazy on the water. It looked very relaxing.

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At this point, the hills were more like mountains.

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And someone decided to carve some faces in the rock.

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I don’t know about you, but ol’ T. Roosevelt looks pretty squished in there.

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And what the heck is up with that big nose sticking in the side of the picture on the left?

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We didn’t stop, but I somehow managed to get every picture of Mt. Rushmore to turn out well. That’s more than I can say for a lot of the other pictures. The parking for the main viewing location was $11. Pretty pricey, if you ask me.

There was a funky tunnel that we got to go through as well.

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After that, it was just a lot of trees and valleys and ranches and that sort of thing.

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Oh, and some mountain streams too.

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We passed another lake.

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And yet another lake, this one bigger than the previous one.

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Eventually we made it to Deadwood, SD. Small town (population 1270), BIG tourism. Lots of cabins, and resorts and hotels and restaurants. They had some serious construction going on too that had us waiting around for a while.

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It was a this point that Kat and I thought that funny sound coming from the back of the truck needed some extra investigation. So we pulled off into the information center’s parking lot and took a look under the truck. At first glance, we didn’t see anything, but Kat got back in and drove in circles around me a few times and I spotted the problem: one of the metal bands that secures the gas tank to the frame had busted loose and was leaning up against the drive shaft.

Isn’t that lovely? We removed the offending piece of metal and then the sound went away. There is another band holding the tank in place, but we did reinforce it with a cinch strap as a temporary fix. We’ll need to get that looked at soon, though.

Anyway, eventually we left the Black Hills and headed back out on to the plains.

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Plains full of hay. Lots and lots of hay.

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We ended up crossing back into Wyoming…

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… and then eventually into Montana.

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I know you’re probably asking why the heck we would do that, as that would take us further west. Well, Kat has this thing about wanting to visit all of the 50 states. So we have been taking a circuitous route. This, of course, costs us more time to get home.

This is a shot of Miles City, MT , just before we jumped on the I94.

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I have to say, we did a lot of driving today through the middle of smegging no where. There is a LOT of no where in Wyoming and Montana. You know you’re in no wheres-ville when you can drive for twenty minutes or more and not encounter another vehicle on either side of the highway.

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The rolling hills of Montana eventually turned into more grassy planes.

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Then we reached North Dakota.

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The western side of ND had some scenic parts, with hills and trees.

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Some nice valleys too.

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But it too eventually turned into flat plains. Wheat was a big crop in ND, along with sun flowers, which you can see below.

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All in all, we drove 600 miles (1000km) and made it to Bismark, North Dakota in about 10 hours. Not very efficient, but we did see some cool stuff along the way.

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