Sunday, November 13, 2016

Summer 2016 Road Trip Stage 6

Racking up the miles through Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota

I could tell that the miles were staring to wear on us at this point. Tempers were short, moodiness was setting in, and the girls were starting to squabble with each other. We only had miles of driving ahead of us this day and we were looking forward to staying put in South Dakota for a while. Adjusting to a different motel each night, trying to find someplace to eat where everyone would be happy, and begrudging every potty or gas break added to the stress. I think this was the point when Scott and I started to have more serious conversations about getting an RV for future road trips.  Of course, that conversation took place before we actually reached the Rocky Mountains. Driving a small "not a van" and a Jetta wagon through the mountain passes was challenging enough. But the day we were there couldn't have been a worse time. There was a bike race going on that included over 3,000 riders! Instead of enjoying the majestic and breath-taking view, we were trying as hard as we could to keep from knocking one of the bikes over the edge of a cliff. THANK GOODNESS the main visitor's lodge and parking area was off limits to the bikers. We were able to get out of the cars, do some shopping, enjoy the views, stretch our legs, relish the cold, crisp air, see some pristine snow, and use the restroom. I think without that break we would have had a totally miserable drive.
Thank goodness there was very little oncoming traffic. 
Leslie did a great job driving through the mountains.
Leslie and Scott were driving through the mountains. I tried my best to get pictures without a bike rider photo bombing me. It was tough because they were EVERYWHERE.  I ended up deleting more pictures than I saved.

When we finally reached Alpine Visitor's Center, nerves were stretched to the limit.  But, the short amount of time we spent here was so enjoyable.  The height of the snow beside the parking lot was staggering! The grands couldn't believe it was really snow.  
The ride down the other side of the mountains was less stressful because the bike riders took a different route about half way down. Unfortunately, most of the beautiful vistas were behind us. We all agree it is a place we need to visit again. But, the next time we go, we will be checking the park events calendar to make sure they aren't having a stupid Ride the Rockies race on the same day!

The grands next to a snow wall!
I had to put this picture in. He was RIGHT ON THE EDGE

Going down out of the mountains wasn't nearly as tension filled. And, unfortunately, it wasn't nearly as beautiful. Still, I'm glad we made the trip. Honestly, who in their right mind would travel all the way to Colorado and Wyoming and NOT drive through the Rocky Mountains?

In all the years we spent traveling around the world with the military, we met very few people that were actually from Wyoming. I didn't really know what to expect while we were driving through. And, since this was a road day, we didn't plan on staying anywhere for very long. If I were to offer any advice to someone driving through the southeast corner of Wyoming, it would be this. If you see a place to eat, stop. If you see place to get gas, stop.  You won't have many options.

Lusk, Wyoming

We drove north on US 25, then headed east into South Dakota. We passed through a tiny little place called Lusk. It was the cutest little town. I would have loved to stop but that wasn't an option. We were done with riding in the car! I think we were all excited to see the Welcome to South Dakota sign.

Sophie, Leslie, and Maggie
While we were in South Dakota, we stayed at a campground/RV park/resort called, Rafter J Bar Ranch in Hill City. One of the music teachers at my school is actually from Wyoming and had stayed there with her daughters. She highly recommended it and it really was a nice place to use as a home base for the next few days. It was clean and well maintained, had lots of tall pine trees, some cute cabins, a small camp store, and a pool. We spent a lot of time out on the porch of the cabin or around the fire because the weather was perfect. We kept checking the temperatures in Texas and weren't looking forward to going back to the heat.

On the porch at the cabin: Seth, Scott, Maggie, Sophie, Leslie.
The only downside to the cabin was the need to take ALL of the necessary items: bedding, dishes, games, camp chairs, bath linens, silverware, paper products, etc. We did make a trip to a local Wal-Mart once we got there to buy food. Once again, our thoughts turned to the many conveniences of owning an RV.

It's kind of unbelievable how our original plans for a trip to South Dakota ended up being such a long and crazy road trip. It was also hard to believe we were finally there! We had a lot planned for our last few days and were relieved to have a place to stow our luggage and plunder while we did some sight seeing. We were also glad to have a place to cook some meals and not be spending so much money on food!

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