Badlands, bad weather

24 July 2008

Badlands, bad weather

After almost every place that we've passed through on our journey, we have wished that we could have stayed longer and explored more. The Black Hills of South Dakota were no different.

With our horses fed and watered RV full of gas we rolled out of Deadwood towards our next stop; Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Inspired by the shoot-out we had seen on the streets of Deadwood, we pulled out our guns and headed for the nearest bank. Unfortunately I’m not meant for a life of crime, so we holstered our pistols and reached instead for a cash-point card. The bank must have been robbed only the previous day as we left with only a hundred dollars.

On our last leg of the journey we’ll see South Dakota mainly from the straight Interstate 90. As we headed past Rapid City we left the Black Hills behind us and the landscape flattened so much that the horizon seemed like it was a hundred miles in front of us. We passed The Badlands to our right, but with the afternoon fast disappearing we could not afford the time to drive the Scenic Loop around Badlands National Park to see them up close.

Cruise control set to sixty, we headed east towards Wall where we stopped for three cups of five cent a cup coffee plus donuts to energize us for the next few hours. We had been watching the frequency of the roadside Wall Drug signs increase and no drive along this part of I90 would be complete without stopping at this temple to the power of free iced water. Wall Drug sells every type of tourist tat you can imagine and I was almost parting with a hundred and sixty dollars for a round-top Stetson hat, the sort you might imagine on the head of a mad 1880’s western preacher, when Alex let me know fair-and-square that I would look like a complete prat wearing it in Wales.

Although I90 is now home to thousands of traffic cones, we didn’t bump into a single one. We did though bump into two fellow Deadwood tour bus riders who were driving through the night all the way to Minnesota, a mere ten hours away east. To them the six-hundred miles was in no way daunting, but it did make me realize the distance that we would have to cover in just three days.

South Dakota is a huge state and I’m sure that I underestimated the hours at the wheel that it will take us to drive horizontally east across it. Just after dark we pulled off the interstate and into our stop for the night on the banks of the Missouri River near Chamberlain. By torchlight we searched for our number thirty-eight spot and with what looked like rain clouds closing in fast, I was glad that we were sleeping in an RV and not under flimsy canvas like the lady and her daughter in the next spot.

We were looking forward to an early night and to waking up and eating breakfast on the banks of the river. Unfortunately two huge thunder storms had other ideas and before dawn we were woken by thunder, lightning and rain that beat down on the roof of our RV making sleep and breakfast in the great outdoors impossible. Our host at the Cedar Shore RV Resort was only slightly surprised that the three inches of overnight rain hadn’t washed us into the Missouri.

By Andy Clarke

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