Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day Eleven: Wild, Wild, West

We decided to get an early start today. Apparently all campers wake up before 6. So we had to wait for the showers, but were able to leave by 7 anyway. We started by going to Sturgis, SD. Had to see what all the hub-bub was about there. Bikers don't have the same schedule as campers. Nothing was open that early in the morning. So we got our picture of the Harley Davidson store in town. Then it was off to Deadwood. This is where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane came in the summer of 1876 during the gold rush in the Black Hills. They are buried there, too. Everything you would imagine in a wild west town can be found here- casinos, saloons, and the town cemetary. From Deadwood, it was off to the Geographic Center of the United States. It's in a little town called Belle Fourche in South Dakota. Well, we put in "Geographic Center of the US" in our GPS. It sent us to a far out of the way middle of nowhere field. Turns out that we could've saved about an hour if we stopped in the Belle Fourche information center where all the flags were. We even said to each other as we passed it the first time, "That's probably the monument." I think we should listen to ourselves next time.
After all of that, we crossed over from South Dakota into Wyoming and were off to Devil's Tower National Monument. The first town we got to was Aladdin. Population: 15. We passed through Sundance, Wyoming, made famous by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Devil's Tower was the first national monument. It is pretty neat to see this huge rock formation sticking up in the middle of nowhere. We were driving along and all of a sudden, it pops up out along the horizon. Since you can see it from the highway, you think that you are close to it, but it takes another hour to actually get there. We took an hour hike around the base of it, and saw some climbers up the middle of the rock's face.
We didn't want to take too much more time up, since it was another four hours to Yellowstone, and we had reservations for tonight. We continued along I-90 and passed some more small towns. One of them was Emblem, WY, complete with it's own post office. It has a population of 10. Two houses. No lies. On our way, we passed through Bighorn National Forest. We went up and down the windy roads, and we got our first glimpse of July snow. It was amazing! The views were even better than the ones yesterday at Custer State Park. The next big city we got to was Cody, WY, named after Buffalo Bill Cody, who was supposedly buried in town, so they would name it after him. We were too early for the rodeo and didn't need anything from Walmart, so we decided to keep driving.We drove through the Shoshone National Forest, along the Shoshone River, passed the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam.
Finally, around 9:00 we reached Yellowstone's East Entrance. It was still another 27miles to our campsite. A plus for arriving late was that we were able to see the sunset over Yellowstone Lake. I don't know if I have ever seen anything as cool as that! As we were checking in, the Park Ranger was going through all of the specifics, including bear protocol- how you can't have any food, cosmetics, water, etc outside. Made me really want to stay there... When we finally got to our site, we put up our tent. After all our practice, this is probably the best we've done! And with that, it is definitely time for bed!

States Visited: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, South Dakota, Wyoming, Wisconsin (10/50)
Provinces Visited: Ontario (1/10)

License Plates Seen: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming (48/50)
Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan (7/10)

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