Idaho -> South Dakota
We woke up early as planned but not heading north to Yellowstone National Park, instead heading east to South Dakota. As soon as Emma got up she checked the news and confirmed the gates to Yellowstone were shut and that there was a snowstorm predicted. We were still up in the Rockies and needed to get out of there fast.We were due to see a lot of monuments and parks in Eastern Wyoming and South Dakota but they were also affected. For instance we were due to go from Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore and onto the Badlands. None of which we could see. This part of the trip was very heavy in the parks and monuments department and suddenly 17 of the 20 things on the 3 day to do list were struck off. If we had been a day earlier we could have done at least half of them. Three days earlier and we could have done all 20 before the shutdown set in. We were deflated and felt like we had wasted so much money to get to Yellowstone National Park. This was not the sort of place you can grab a £500 return flight to like New York. After talking it over and deciding to just move on we had nothing else planned that we could still do for Wyoming as Yellowstone was taking up most of our time there. Emma went and took some photos of the campsite and the area round it. Such a beautiful place it seemed a crime to leave without spending some more time in Idaho. But I didn’t fancy getting caught in a snowstorm, so we started a 12 hour drive to South Dakota.
Around lunchtime we stopped for fuel and noticed it was geared towards truckers. Trucker stops normally mean cheap good quality food. We wandered in and a heavily made up teenage girl showed us to a booth. I saw there was some big pancake eating challenge going on and with my history of being able to eat a lot, very fast I decided to give it a go. It was only $5 and was cheaper than most of the menu items. As she put down what must have been 5kg of pancake she said “We had a 16 year old girl in just last week and she finished it.” She nodded over to the wall to some picture of a skinny cheerleader looking girl with an empty plate. I said I’d try my best and tucked in. Not even a quarter of the way through I was done. I don’t eat that much anymore and it showed. I felt embarrassed for even trying.
We got back on the road and spent the rest of the day listening to an audio book called ‘The Chamber’, a John Grisham story which was tough going and perfect for a long drive. We got to Casper shortly after nightfall and stocked up just in case we got snowed in anywhere. The Walmart in Casper is the closest thing I have ever seen to a real life Cantina Bar. If the people we saw walking round Walmart like zombies are the average Wyomingite then it was probably a good thing we blew through the state in a day. Dinner was from Subway when we were leaving Walmart as it would be too late to eat by time we finally camped. I got myself a Philly Cheesesteak in a Jalapeno bread, it was delicious and hit the spot for the rest of the drive.
The campsite was another KOA campsite south of Mount Rushmore. The town we were in was called Hot Springs which I found amusing as the previous evening we camped at Lava Hot Springs. A day ahead of schedule now it meant we could spent more time not seeing all the shutdown sites in South Dakota. With our worst day out of the way, we went to bed pretty much straight after hooking up Bertha to the good stuff.