July 15, 2020
Wide Open Wednesday
Starting Location: Riverton, Wyoming (Depart 06:30AM, Mountain Daylight Time)
Ending Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Arrive 09:30PM, Central Daylight Time)
Driving Time: 11 hours
Driving Miles: 710 miles (woof)
Today was a day of driving, bales of hay, stops in tiny towns, and super touristy attractions. Thankfully, Abby was up for driving through most of the day as I was pretty zonked after driving yesterday.
Our evening in our extremely disappointing Air BnB last night didn’t lead to as restless as a night as I anticipated. Abby and I resolved to each put the fresh sheets from the closet on the couch because we didn’t entirely trust the beds… considering the sheets weren’t really tucked in. We also didn’t shower there (don’t judge us) because (1) I found a smushed bug on the bathroom vanity, which neither of us killed. (2) There were hair strands on the towels, again that were not ours. (3) We were generally skeeved [<wait, is that not a word??] out by the place given the evidence that cleaning did NOT occur, such as random crumbs on the kitchen counter [surprise – not ours] and Axe smell that seemed to be covering up a discrete smell of cat litter or something worse. Who knows. I don’t want to know. Ugh. We are really grateful to have only been there to sleep. I am NOT picky about places to sleep and don’t often feel uncomfortable. Given the fact we are STILL in a global pandemic, I admit I am more sensitive… yet, this was definitely a breach of typical cleaning protocol – pandemic or not.
We woke up early and booked it out of the little apartment, contemplating how to artfully leave an appropriate review of the place. Still thinking on that.
Today, we had a LOT of driving. We basically drove the entire state of South Dakota and half of Wyoming (<not in that order lol). However, our biggest win of the day is OUR AIR BNB HAS A HOT TUB. #worthit
With more than double the amount of miles driven today, I am honestly impressed we carried through with so much energy. Having Abby as a travel companion is freakin awesome. We definitely tend to be on the same page with needs AND are good at taking turns making executive decisions. (Like when Abby makes the executive decision that I need food lol).
Yay for checking off more bucket list items, car naps, and 80 mph speed limits.
I deemed today “Wide Open” Wednesday because we were on the open roads for a loooooooong time today. Very, very open roads. With a LOT of cows. And some horses. And sheep. AND there were even some trees at some points! We started our morning in Riverton, Wyoming without coffee or breakfast until 1.5 hours later when we arrived at the Holy Land of Starbucks. When I had asked Siri where the closest Starbucks was in the morning, she recommended one in Utah. It was a little off course, so we decided to wait until we met one along the way. I passed out in the passenger seat as Abby drove us towards our morning fuel.
Overall, I would describe today as very… whelming.
Very, very whelming.
Driving in Wyoming? Whelming. NOTHING like Grand Teton. We did drive through a town of 195 people (Edgarton, Wyoming) and I am sure other small towns.
Getting into South Dakota? Literally the same thing. Except for seeing signs that say, “Your mother was pro life.” …uhhh, only in South Dakota, I hope?
Mount Rushmore? Corn Palace? WORTH IT. But, very whelming.
Today, I was not over- or underwhelmed. Just… whelmed.
The coolest part of the drive was through the Black Hills National Forest along Route 16A (AKA Iron Mountain Road) with switchbacks, narrow lanes, and pretty interesting scenery!
We spotted Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial in Custer, South Dakota – a memorial of Lakota leader Crazy Horse. “The Mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians.” It is actually still under construction, with the entire carving dimensions planned to be 641 feet long and 563 feet high. (Photo below taken via Zoom on my cell phone camera. Pardon the quality.)
This was a suuuper touristy destination, yet not nearly as crowded as Yellowstone National Park! We were unimpressed by the number of people wearing masks (estimating a solid 3% were masked and thinking social distance). We didn’t know if we’d have to pay the $10 for parking, but ended up doing it because there’s not a good spot along the highway to capture Mount Rushmore. If we made it all the way to South Dakota, we were NOT missing this! Honestly, I was impressed with how crisp the faces still appeared. I don’t know why I expected them to be eroded, but the Presidents appear to be withstanding the test of time!
Abby and I were recommended a visit to Corn Palace THREE TIMES. It is the world’s ONLY Corn Palace… can you believe there is not a single other palace made of corn other than in Mitchell, South Dakota?! I mean, why doesn’t every city have one?? Beats me!
The decor outside of the palace is changed annually, which is pretty cool. There also appears to be a still functioning arena inside the palace. We were slightly more than whelmed here. You may even say subtly overwhelmed.
I would DEFINITELY recommend the above attractions… I mean, I don’t know next time I’ll be in South Dakota… #bucketlist!
Greatest Showman Count: ZERO!!! WOAH! (Correction: Abby listened to it once. I was passed out hardcore in the passenger seat.)
Wildlife spotting: 1 cow crossing the road.
We listened to a little of Rising Strong by Brené Brown & The Alchemist by Pauolo Coleho (my favorite book everrrrr) today, in addition more classic road trip songs. I have decided “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root is my ACTUAL favorite road trip song. Abby and I also literally never run out of things to talk about. We went down memory lane talking about past relationships, discussed career goals, and reflected on our time in Tanzania (and what it means for us in the future). Good shizz.
The best entertainment of the day was our hot tub at the Air BnB. I must have asked our hosts 3 different times if the hot tub would be open and what time it would be open until. I KNEW we were going to need it after our driving today… and woahhhweee, was it perfect! Honestly, after last night’s experience of Air BnB, it was going to be hard for tonight to be terrible. Yet, it has been the best stay we’ve had so far (save for Abby’s friend’s in Whitefish, Montana)! Hot tub + red wine = good times. Yay.
We got S-bucks breakfast + coffee (yum), then ate our typical lunch. For dinner, we got take out from the 18th Amendment, which featured a “casino” behind the bar with 8 slot machines. It appeared to be a pretty local joint and had BANGIN’ chicken cutlets, as featured on Abby’s chicken parm hero and my buffalo chicken wrap. SO GOOD.
Oh, and we ate Cheez-Itz today. We needed a little pep in our afternoon. Nom nom.
Air BnB in Sioux Falls! I think this is the biggest, most developed city we’ve seen in a while… right on the edge of eastern South Dakota! We each have queen-sized beds and (I’ll say it again) THE HOT TUB IS THE BEST. I think tonight will be quite restful.
What is your favorite road trip snack?
KRISTEN: My favorite treat is Sea Squishies (gummies from Fred Meyer) and my favorite healthy snack is an apple.
ABBY: Cheez Itz!!!