Bozeman-DC Trek II

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's been a busy day today. I started in Rapid City, SD, hitting the road around 8:30. I felt bad about starting later than I'd wanted, but I'd slept so soundly Monday night and really felt like going at a comfortable pace in the morning. Either way, I knew it would be a really long day.

I made it across South Dakota fairly easily. There was very little traffic and, just like yesterday, the weather was gorgeous--bluebird skies and very sunny. This part of the trip passed quickly.

At Sioux Falls, SD (on the border with Iowa) I went south, switching from US 90--which I'd taken all the way from Bozeman--to 26 South. This took me down to US 80, which will get me to Chicago. From there, I'm taking 94 back to Ann Arbor.

I was able to drive later tonight. One big difference between driving here and in places like Montana, Wyoming, and western South Dakota is that further west you encounter a lot more wildlife at night. On Monday, for example, I saw several deer crossing the highway as I drove through Wyoming to Rapid City. This made me pretty paranoid, as did the fact that there were hardly any cars going my way on the interstate. In some place, you can go quite a while without seeing a house or any other human dwelling. It's gorgeous and amazing, but I wouldn't want to be stranded out there, especially in the middle of winter. Cellphone coverage is spotty.

The driving I did today, on the other hand, was pretty easy. The views weren't as incredible as they were in Montana and Wyoming yesterday, but eastern South Dakota was really pretty. Like eastern Wyoming, it's very lunar-looking in the west, then you shift to grasslands, which I photographed a bit when I drove out to Bozeman from Michigan in August of 2009. 

Night driving was especially easy in Iowa, where there was surprisingly heavy traffic in and out of Des Moines. Who knew? Or perhaps my sense of what constitutes traffic has simply shifted since moving to Montana. Anyway, there were always lights to follow and I never felt like I was about to drive the car into a bighorn ram, run out of gas hundreds of miles from the nearest human settlement, or otherwise get stranded in the middle of this incredibly austere and empty place.

I'm staying in Davenport, Iowa tonight, right across the Mississippi from Illinois. It looks like I'll make it to Ann Arbor tomorrow, which will save a nice chunk of change re the rental car.

Here are some photos of South Dakota, just in case you don't have any. And don't worry, Iowa, you haven't been forgotten, either!

Eastern South Dakota
All of the above shots are from the SD

  Iowans take their pinwheels seriously

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