South Dakota & The Badlands
Day 125: Badlands, SD > Rapid City, SD
Woke up early (7:40) in hopes of getting tickets to the Minute Man Missile Museum tour. We did, and drove down the road where 10 nuclear missiles once were stored underground during the Cold War. Our tour guide used to be stationed here for 8 years, ready to turn a key and destroy the world. The United States had 1,500 warheads at the height of the war in order to assure mutual destruction if the Russians ever dared to strike. It was this escalation of arms, however, that kept the peace. After an hour of seeing the underground chambers where minutemen spent their days, John & I pressed on toward the Badlands National Park. The painted hills inspired a reigniting of our curiosity and we explored the desert looking for fossils. The sun came out and we could see these formations for miles around. We stopped to watch the prairie dogs and saw hundreds of them. We also spotted a prong horned antelope and a small herd of big horned sheep. Then, we set our sights on Mt. Rushmore. As we drove up the road outside of Rapid City, the van started giving us trouble. It suddenly didn’t have the torque to go up the grade. We never made it to this famously presidential mountain, but rather turned around to make a maintenance appointment for hour home on wheels. We spent the evening at Planet Fitness trying to work off the candy guilt from the night before. Then, we went to Longhorn Stakehouse for a Friday night date and prime rib…guess we’ve got a lot of work to do on that diet. We slept in a Walmart parking lot…we want our groove back!
Day 126: Rapid City > Scottsbluff, NE
Woke up in Rapid City & enjoyed the fruits of Walmart. We stayed there through two McDonald’s coffees, a grocery run and $20 trail mix from the Boy Scouts outside. We even met some fellow vanlifers that we’ve been following – @nonstoptraveling. Oh, Walmart. I will not miss your parking lots when this trip is over. We went to Planet Fitness for a workout and my 6th shower in 5 days, and then took the van to Firestone for a checkup. While they changed our oil and replaced our ashen air filter, we strolled through the “Roamin’ Around” outdoor shop and Rapid City’s Fall Pumpkin Festival. Thankful to escape at the end of our service appointment, we got back on the road. We drove through sunset listening to Dan Brown on tape & snacking in free Subway sandwiches that we picked up from a gas station Grand Opening. We stopped in Scottsbluff, Nebraska for the night & John ducked into wifi at McDonald’s to send a few emails. We slept in a Walmart parking lot (again) with the sounds of crazy high schoolers peeling out and doing doughnuts around us.