Conveniently, to get to where we were heading next, we had to use the “scenic drive” through the Badlands in the morning. It was awesome. We saw a few antelope (judging from the picture in the brochure), more pointy hills, and – highlight of the drive – prairie dogs. Right beside the road. Who needs coffee when you’ve got prairie dogs?
Leaving the Badlands, we realized that Mt. Rushmore was only 20 minutes out of the way, so we decided to take a spontaneous detour to check it out. It’s never been something either of us were dying to see, but when it’s so close we felt obligated.
Suddenly South Dakota was becoming more and more beautiful as we approached the monument. Here’s a picture from just outside the parking structure:
As we approached Mt. Rushmore, we were happily surprised to see how cool it really is. Seeing it in person is super interesting as long as you can avoid all the fat people and Asian picture takers that get in the way. There are a few trails provided, so we picked a short one to do quickly. It took us up close to the monument, so I took a picture to make sure George didn’t have any bats in the cave:
I grabbed a pine cone and we went on our way. We then stumbled upon the Black Hills, which is a really cool forest that neither of us knew about. We were lucky that our route to Boulder/Denver took us right through it. It was gorgeous – if you’re ever in South Dakota you’ve got to make a stop there.
As we drove through I couldn’t help not to take a picture of the most stereotypical road trip scene we’d encountered so far:
We crossed into Wyoming shortly after and things went downhill fast. First, there was no state sign for me to screw up a picture of. Secondly, there is absolutely nothing in Wyoming. At least in eastern Wyoming, where we were driving. It was completely desolate. The city of Pittsburgh has more residents than the entire state of Wyoming. The capital, Cheyenne, looked the same size as the suburb that I live in.
For entertainment on this drive we got to look at yellow-brown tall grass and a tree. Every now and then we’d pass a ranch sign. Best ranch name we spotted: Boner Ranch. Come on. Really? We did pass another car at one point. And we had a great lunch view:
We switched drivers (I was driving now) and continued south to Colorado. After looking at the above landscape for an hour or two, we started hitting towns. Towns that had 187 residents, one stoplight, and technology from the 1960s. We stopped to get gas in Lusk, Wyoming where I had to manually pump the gas into the car and watch the numbers roll on the meter. When I went in to pay, the attendent pulled out a pair of binoculars to read how much to charge me.
Meanwhile, Justin was walking down the block to get ice. Although I didn’t get to experience it first hand, he told me that when he entered the grocery store every single person stared at him. The entire time. I think that if we would have hung out in Lusk any longer the creatures from the Hills Have Eyes were going to make an appearance.
What seemed like 7 hours later we were still in Wyoming. Luckily Justin fell asleep so I could enjoy the scenery in peace. At which point tumbleweed drifted across the road in front of my car. Tumbleweed.
Finally we made it to Colorado and I got a GREAT picture of the state sign:
Soon the Rockies were in sight. Then, finally, we made it to Boulder, Colorado.