So we left off waking up in Rapid City, SD. It was raining.
We drove a short distance to Mount Rushmore where we ended up hitting the jackpot so to speak. It just so happened one of the few remaining men who worked on Mount Rushmore was there autographing his book. He was 18 when he started working on it and was clearly very old and feeble at this point. We did buy his book and have it signed and we got a picture with him.
We left there and headed for Deadwood. I won’t lie, I wasn’t super excited to see Deadwood. I don’t (or didn’t) watch the show so I was just along for the ride. Darrin really was pumped. To me, it was a little gimmicky. Lots of casinos and slot machines. To Darrin, it was a town rich in history. We even ran into the guy from Ghost Adventures! He seemed just as interesting in person as he does on TV.
We spent some time there and headed toward Devil’s Tower. I was excited about this because the last time I was there I wasn’t able to do much and didn’t really remember it (for those of you that don’t know I did a similar trip with my parents and brother when I was 9 and was diagnosed with diabetes on the trip in Cody).
Here’s the scoop on Devil’s tower- my favorite part is the Native American folklore!
So on the drive from Deadwood to Devil’s tower, I fell asleep. Which is very common for me in the car… and on this trip. I woke up and we were off the main road. Here we are, in the middle of nowhere, and we look at the gas tank… We need gas… Out of nowhere there is this huge billboard advertising gas and truckers welcome. So we stop in Aladdin, WY. Population, 18. The whole town was for sale and the gas pumps looked so old we weren’t even sure if they worked. Thankfully, they did. I enjoyed shopping in the general store and even bought a shirt to commemorate the experience.
We made it to Devil’s Tower and hiked for a little while, until it started sprinkling. We headed to the car so we didn’t get even more wet (thankfully). We headed into the Bighorn Mountains where we experienced a 40 degree temperature swing. Wow was it cold up there.
We headed further west into Cody, Wyoming. By this time the weather had gotten really sower. We very quickly realized we were not going to be able to tent camp. We got what seemed like the last motel room left in the town. The place was run by a little old lady with a bird in the main lobby. She was sweet and had a room. We were thankful (if you’re keeping track at this point this is our second hotel, we’ve camped once).
We had dinner at a local joint where we had burgers (Proud Cut Saloon and Steakhouse). We weren’t able to do much else that evening because of the weather, so we headed for bed.
The next morning we got up and headed out to find somewhere to eat breakfast. We rolled into Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel. This is where Darrin experienced green chili for the first time and fell in love. We started seeing this dish on the breakfast menu more and more while we were out there. It was good! I recommend it!
After getting our fill at breakfast, we headed into Yellowstone National Park where we spent nearly the entire day.
We saw lots of buffalo, hot springs, the mud volcano, and of course- Old Faithful. If you’ve never been- it is something I would recommend seeing in your lifetime. It is awesome that you can set your watch to it. The science experience and information in that park alone are just amazing.
We left Old Faithful and headed out of the park toward Grand Teton National Park. Here’s the thing, this is the most beautiful range of mountains I have ever seen. The lake makes it seem like you can’t tell if there are two mountain ranges or one. When you leave Yellowstone you flow right into it. Keep in mind this is another national park so you can pay for both at once or pay separately. I say if you don’t have a national park pass- do it separately as there was no one in the shack checking to see if we had a pass to get into Teton National Park. So that’s cool.
We made it into Jackson Hole Wyoming just as the KOA was getting ready to close up for the night. We had a knack for that. We pitched the tent less than 10 yards from the Snake River. That, was really awesome. Once we got all set up we started what we like to call “campfire stew.” (You’ve seen this picture probably 3 times already, so I’ll spare you)
We made it up… It had potatoes, canned beef (from Winner’s because it’s the best), corn, beef broth, salt and pepper. Served with some saltines. I can’t tell you if it was awesome because I killed a 6 pack, I was really hungry, or it really was good… But how can that be hard to mess up?!
We woke up the next morning and drove 13 hours to Davis, California. This is where I’ll leave you for now. We’ll pick up on the adventure from here next time!