Yesterday morning, my family and I departed for our vacation. While I originally planned on writing a blog post for that day, it was so uneventful that I figured I’d consolidate the first two days into a single entry.
Our vacation is primarily to Yellowstone, though we are seeing some other places as well such as the Big Horn Mountains and the Tetons. We have made this trip before in the summers of both 2008 and 2013. However, I still look forwards to making the journey again.
The first day of driving was from our home to Oacoma, South Dakota. We left at about 9:15, a bit later than anticipated but not late enough that we would drive deep into the night. We attempted to stop as little as possible, though we did take time to see the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. It had been remodeled since our last visit in 2008, though the concept was the same and the experience didn’t differ much. When we arrived, we ate at a restaurant known as “Al’s Oasis”, located right off of Interstate 90 in Oacoma. It was our third time visiting, and it was not as good as I remembered it being. However, my parents seemed to really enjoy it.
Today, we left at a similar time to yesterday, and drove about two hours to the Badlands. There is a place just outside of there where you can feed prairie dogs peanuts, and it was rather fun. My sister really enjoyed it in the past, though she is not travelling with us this year. Afterwards, we made our way into the actual park.
The visitor center has a lab in which you can watch technicians clean real dinosaur fossils. I personally thought it’d be annoying to work in a room full of loud tourists, though they did have headphones on and seemed quite engaged in their duties. They also had a gift shop, with the usual items which you would expect from such a place.
We drove through the park on the main road, making a stop where I attempted to walk up a steep trail. However, I did not have the proper shoes on and the trail was slippery with gravel, so
The exit road of the park deposits one in the small town of Wall, best known for the famous “Wall Drug”. I only explored about half of it before it was time to go, and didn’t see “dinosaur” or six foot tall “rabbit”. I purchased 0.29 pounds of M&M fudge, which was a bit expensive but of great quality. I also got a scoop of butter pecan ice cream, which I neither enjoyed nor finished. Besides food, I made no purchases and took little interest in most of the merchandise being sold, though some of the historic objects on display were interesting.
An hour west of Wall is the road to Mount Rushmore, which we took most of the way down before turning onto Iron Mountain Road, a scenic route in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The road was built to be scenic and winding, having the road take bridges over itself and through tunnels which frame the faces of Mount Rushmore. We did not visit the monument proper but did see it from a distance.
After taking the road over the peak of Iron Mountain, we then went down the Needles Highway. We had to pay an entrance fee to go into Custer State Park, but it was worth it. The road was a bit boring yet relaxing at first, but eventually we reached the needles, giant pinnacles of stone that rise out of the mountains. I’ll include photos here once I get them off of my phone.
We eventually came out of the hills and into the state of . We were getting hungry , so I decided to search for restaurants along the route. I found a place known as “Wayback Burgers” on US 16 in Newcastle, Wyoming. Apparently, it’s a nationwide chain, though I had not heard of it till earlier today. It was a rather nice place for a town of 3500 in the middle of Wyoming. I figure it probably got a significant portion of its business from tourists heading to and from the Black Hills, since it is one of the only places to eat on the stretch of road. I got a double cheeseburger, and the chipotle mayonnaise I got on it was quite good. The burgers were not cheap, but I thought it was better than comparable restaurants Five Guys and Meatheads. However, my parents did not share the sentiment.
Driving across Wyoming was fairly bland, with the population fairly spread out. It was a few more hours to get across the state to Sheridan, where I am currently writing in the Super 8 motel. It’s not the nicest hotel I’ve been in but It’s nice to finally have a bed after a day in the car. Tomorrow we traverse the Big Horn Mountains on US14 and US14A, which is one of my favorite drives. There are breathtaking views that I look forwards to experiencing again. We are staying by Old Faithful tomorrow, which should have usable internet to update this page. I look forwards to letting you know how it goes.