In the photo below you can see that it turned into a hail storm and there are white pebbles decorating the highway:
On our way to Mount Rushmore, we drove by Horse Thief Lake (which is where we were going to be camping before we learned it was closed until next month):
The rain abated as we neared our destination, but when we parked to go look at the mountain we were hit with cold mountain air. A quick check on the car’s dashboard confirmed that it was only 5 Celsius. For all you interior folk, you should know that, that is as cold as it gets on the Western Coast, so it equated Winter to us!
Nick’s winter coat has the best hood, lol:
A couple snaps of the mountain. It looked like the presidents were crying because of all the rain just a few moments before:
Here I will entertain you with a couple slightly blurry photos of Nick fooling around in the gift shop. (I’ve been shooting landscape so much lately that I had forgotten how wiggly human subjects are, especially on my 85mm!).
After a short stop we were back on the road under stormy, but dry, skies.
Aw, we’re cute 😉
We pulled into a McDonalds at Grand Rapids, SD, to charge our devices, get some late breakfast/lunch, and plan out our camping dilemma for the night due to this unexpected cold, rainy weather. Turns out my friend, Caroline, in Minnesota was up to having us a day early, so we packed into the car with our story-on-tape and snacks and got ready for another 6.5 hours on the road. It meant that we had to skip a couple things on our “to-see list” like the Corn Palace and the Badlands National Park. However, with this miserable weather, it seemed silly to endure a night out just for those couple things when we could have a bit more time with friends and a warm bed instead. It’s supposed to rain in that area and maybe even snow tomorrow anyways. Not ideal sightseeing weather. I have to say, though, that this portion of our journey was probably the most geographically boring so far. The only thing to break up the landscape was the odd little pond or tiny cluster of trees. A short nap spared me a bit, but Nick was a trooper for the long haul.
We passed the famous “Wall Drug” store on our way and decided to pull off for a quick peek. We almost didn’t, but my friend, Tara, recommended it and there were just too many billboards all down the highway to ignore and our curiosity was peeked. We didn’t have too long as we wanted to make sure my friends weren’t staying up too late for us, but it was totally worth it even for the 10 minutes or so that we were there. I don’t even know how to describe the place. It’s like pulling up to an old-fashioned Western street, but all shiny and new looking. Inside it’s just like a mall with all the shops connected, but well… the best I can do is show you a few snaps I took and let you know that every inch of every wall was decorated to the point where empty space was a rarity. There was even a little chapel inside!
We also got to do something I have always wanted to do – go in a little photo booth! I know it sounds silly, but I have never, ever done that and always wanted to. I would watch movies growing up where teenage girls would have these little photo strips decorating their mirrors or tucked away in shoeboxes under their beds, and I somewhat romanticized the concept. It seemed even more “legit” as Nick pushed two $1.00 bills into the machine (as opposed to dropping in a Canadian toonie). Paper money seems more authentic somehow. Even spellcheck on my computer is telling me “toonie” is not a real word as I type this. And now I have a little film strip of my very own! I’m a dork… I know.
We continued on into the night which seemed odd to me. The only time we have had to drive in the dark on our trip was our very first night down to Portland after work and the one time we were hoping in vain for “just one more campsite” that never appeared about a week ago. It’s been a pretty easy road trip so far. (I can say that because out of the 5,500km we’ve driven so far, I think I may have only been behind the wheel for 400-500 of them? My husband is amazing if you haven’t figured that out already.) But we’ve been hitting the road after 11am almost every day and stopping to set up camp before dark. We’ve also had a couple days where we didn’t drive at all. We have a couple “longer hauls” where we’ll need to drive 8-9 hours in a single day coming up, but the front end of our trip has been not too bad. I just checked in with Nick beside me so that I’m not speaking solely from the luxurious passenger side (from which I’m typing this in hopes of internet later), and he confirms that it’s been easier than he expected and he’s never reached a point in a day where he’s gotten sick of driving, though there have been a couple close calls where he was getting tired of it right before we stopped.
Anyways, we reached our Minnesota friends just before 11pm their time. (We had a bit of an unexpected time change dropped in our laps mid-trip today!) I have to say, they are pretty freakin’ awesome in real life. We spent about an hour and a half or so talking around the table when we arrived, and I laughed so hard I hurt. On a serious note, I grew up not asking anyone for anything if I could help it. I never wanted to risk putting anyone out. So this road trip has been a bit of a stretch for me, reaching out to people I only knew online and asking if we could stay with them. I have to say I have been so humbled and so blessed by all the people we have met along the road so far. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s been good for my soul and given me a new hope for humanity that I never really gave a chance to before. America – you make good people and I’m honoured to meet them all.
And lastly, because apparently it’s 1:30am (even though it REALLY feels like only 11:30pm to me), I’ll leave you with a couple very quick snaps of the sweet awesome camper trailer our Minnesota friends put us up in for the next two nights! Yes, that’s right – they left out snacks for us! Food – the quickest way to make me happy, haha. Photographer friends, don’t judge the skin tones. It’s late and they didn’t look right in black and white 😉