Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two States Later

We left Montana several days ago, spent time in Wyoming and are now on our third day in South Dakota. Our last two days in Montana were rainy, cold and miserable, which was fitting since we were sad to leave and maybe, just maybe, Montana was sad to see us leave as well. Missoula is a wonderful little town and we did enjoy some interesting Thai food while there, and shopped at a great vintage shop to purchase some much needed warm clothes.

Cody, Wyoming was fantastic! The Buffalo Bill Historic Center is like an art museum on steroids. It has Western Art, Firearms, Yellowstone National Park Display, Native Indian and a Library. We spent a couple of hours milling around with our dear friends, Roland and Sloan, and new friends, Clause and Ana, who are friends of the Munech’s visiting from Germany. After the Historic Center we headed to Irma’s Bar and Restaurant for some catching up, eating and we even watched a Gun Fight in the street, corny, but fun. Cody was not a planned stop, but we are thrilled we added it to our itinerary.

We have had some major driving days and will have until we reach Maine. We are averaging about 400 miles a day in the RV, which depending on the road conditions, could be anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of driving. What a blessing that the country is spectacular, therefore the drive isn’t so daunting. Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming was incredible and because of its high elevation, autumn was in full bloom. All the Aspen Trees were a vibrant yellow.

We arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota on Sunday and were pleasantly surprised when we woke Monday morning to find temperatures in the 70’s climbing to the 80’s later in the afternoon! Yeah! I was thrilled. It seems I have been cold for months, so the opportunity to wear shorts and short sleeve shirts came as a tremendous boost to my mood!

I had been looking forward to Rapid City to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, however, they pale in comparison to the TRUE beauty of the area, Custer State Park. Wow! This State Park offers more wildlife and dream-like landscape than most National Parks we have seen. The Needles Highway goes right through the park and consists of tall, narrow rock formations that look like needles and tunnels that only one car can go through at a time. I could reach out and touch the wall of one of them it was so narrow. But, the real treasure of the park is the Wildlife Loop Road where herds of Bison (Buffalo, Tatanka, etc.) live and graze right along the side of the road offering amazing photo opps. There are also “Begging Burros” that come right up to your car, stick their head in the window and beg for food, which unnerved me a bit since we were in the tiny Miata with the top down! James did well to keep enough distance between them and us, but still close enough for photos and one pet on my part. They are really beautiful animals.

Antelopes decorate the green hillside with their beautiful tan and white colors and amazing horns. They too, are not afraid of humans and will sit right off the road until you are finished taking pictures. I swear they pose because if they are eating grass when you approach, they will turn and look right at you with their beautiful eyes until you are finished, then they return to grazing.

Absent mountains and coastlines, this landscape is almost one of my favorites. I love rolling green hills with lone trees standing in their glory! It was so relaxing to me. Peace and grace seemed to fill the air around us.

We did drive through some of the more well known towns of the area, Spearfish, Deadwood and Sturgis. Sturgis, of course, is basically a ghost town except for a few weeks in August when bikers from across the country converge on this little town and fill the streets with their iconic motorcycles, mostly Harley Davidson. Deadwood was my favorite; it still looks very much like it did in 1856 when it was as its height of fame with the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and other interesting characters of our western past filling the streets.

The Badlands and Grasslands of South Dakota are really amazing. Right now we are driving through an area that has a functioning 1800’s town, as well as props from the movie “Dances with Wolves,” you can see them right of the highway in these huge grassy fields. Beautiful. There are also hundreds of acres of sunflowers. This is stunning to behold against the blue, blue skies; yellow, orange, green and brown cover the land and it looks like an oil painting. There isn’t much more out here in the middle of the state, but what is here really captures your heart and owns its unique beauty proudly.

From here, we will be making our way to Maine via the Midwest with fun stops along the way to visit family and friends. Wheaton, Illinois is where James went to college so we will be stopping there for a couple of nights to visit friends, then to Indiana to see family, Columbus for more family and then northward to Maine. I can’t believe I am already writing about our final month on the road. Sigh. So sad.

So, until next time, may God continue to bless each and every one of you. We miss you all, think of you daily and look forward to reuniting with everyone very soon. Thank you again, for your prayers during our journey…they have all been answered as we continue to have a most blessed time.

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