The trip

I’m back after a much needed hiatus. Sorry for the delay – we’ve been busy working around the house and getting things ready for all hell to break loose (i.e., starting school on the 23rd).

I arrived safely in Iowa with my father on Wednesday, August 4th after driving through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa. We drove over 2,000 miles in 3 days. Because the speed limit through many states is 75 mph, we made great time and still had time for sightseeing.

Our first stop was Yellowstone National Park. This was an unplanned but great detour. It really is on the way from Montana to Wyoming, so it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” as dad put it. I knew there were buffalo, but I had no idea how common it is to also see moose, big horn sheep, wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears. The land was distinctly different from what you see in other parts of Montana and Wyoming, and it seemed to keep changing every few miles. Much of Yellowstone sits at 9-10,000 feet high (for Washingtonians: this is higher than Mount Baker and twice as high as the Steven’s Pass summit), so the altitude takes some getting used to.  And not only is there lodging inside the park, but there is camping! Can you say “paradise”!? There are also lots of opportunities for hiking, swimming, river rafting, horse riding, and fishing! Yes, fishing. And get this: Some of the fish you are REQUIRED to keep! This would be the perfect place for Sim and I to return for a family vacation someday.

The next stop was the 70th annual motorcycle festival in Sturgis, SD. I’m happy to report that Sturgis was quite tame (during the day, that is) and would even be a fine place to stop with children. For 51 weeks of the year, Sturgis is a quiet little town with quaint houses, nicely kept yards, churches, and schools. For 1 week of the year, the town simply fills with motorbikes and vendors. It is basically like going to a really big concert and seeing line after line of t-shirt vendors. Of course sometimes biker gangs get into it and shoot each other, but not from the looks of it during the day. There are some bars and restaurants downtown where people try to line up their hogs, but mainly the area is clogged up with cars that are both parked and driving around. Since there wasn’t much to see, we continued driving.

The final stop was the Badlands of South Dakota. Since my grandma has been babbling on about the badlands for years, we expected it to be really scenic. But the truth is that you pay $15 to enter the National Park and look at a bunch rocks. And on top of that, it takes a couple hours to wind your way through the park and back up to I-90. So unless you REALLY appreciate rocks and geological history, your time could be better spent. The silver lining of this stop, however, was that I got to see prairie dogs for the first time. They are fat and cute, and they make funny little whistling sounds to communicate with each other.

Dad booked his flight out of Iowa for Sunday morning, just to be sure he had time to help with anything that could’ve gone wrong on the drive here (e.g., a breakdown). So we had 3 days to show him around Iowa City, which will be the focus of the next entry.

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