No Faces Small Places

Until driving through, I never realized that the farther west you go the bigger the states get. I looked at the directions when we left our campsite in Nebraska to see that South Dakota was only one state to the north. It was supposed to take 7.5 hours. I was baffled.

But man those states are big. This drive was one of my favorites because we were only on a major interstate for the last hour or two. The rest of the drive were less traveled roads that wound through the fields and hills. Which was hell for cell phone reception.

Nebraska is the first state we were in that listed the population of each town under its name on the signs. We didn’t see a town larger than 1,000 people until about 3 hours into the drive. Every few miles there was a small cluster of buildings around an intersection of two paved roads (I specify because most crossroads were dirt) that Nebraska calls a “town”. I’d call them a village. Or a hamlet. Semantics. Anyway these hamlets dotted the massive expanses of fields of corn and occasional beans. The solution to overpopulation is Nebraska.

At lunch we had to fight for a parking spot:

If you closed your eyes the wind going through the corn stalks sounded like the ocean. Only when you open your mouth in the ocean it doesn’t get filled with bugs and the smell of cow manure.

Driving into South Dakota was one of the happiest moments of the trip because I got a GREAT picture of the state sign:

(If you can’t read that, yes, South Dakota’s motto is “Great Faces Great Places”)

And I got a redo for messing up in Nebraska (yes we turned around whatever)

(Oh thank you Nebraska for creating the most relevant day of the year.)

But I was mostly happy for the sole reason that there was no corn in sight. Three days of our yellow kernely companions were behind us and we crossed into the high plains of western South Dakota. I don’t know if it was due to the fact that the corn was gone or elevation was making me loopy, but I thought South Dakota was awesome. The western half of the state is made up of grasslands and buttes (which I pronounce “butts” because it’s hilarious that they’d name a landform that) which makes for really interesting scenery.

It seemed like we were always climbing in elevation as we drove, and the wind was nuts. It felt entirely different than anywhere I’d been before. Very vast, very open. The largest city in SD has just over 150,000 people. One town we drove through had 87. Confirmed: overpopulation is a government conspiracy.

Another South Dakota treasure – we got on the interstate and, what do you know, the speed limit is 75. Never in my life had I driven on a highway with that high of a speed limit. Go go speed racer.

The Badlands were fast approaching as we went 473 mph in my Honda Accord.