Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The black hills are indeed pretty black. When you're driving through them at 10PM.....

OK.  This post went up by accident a couple days ago, but since it only had a sentence in it, obviously it was not ready to be published.  My apologies!  So here we go -

This, on the off chance you haven't experienced it for yourself, is what "I'm tired, I'm pissy and leave me alone" looks like, at 10 o'clock at night and nowhere near a place to settle down....


So what happened?  Well, like I said yesterday, we had a plan.  Our mistake was trying to stick to it like glue.  Bad bad idea.

By the time we left Devils Tower it was almost dark.  Stupid.  Every time I think about it feel like smacking my forehead.  I'll try to get over it so I can through this post without repeating myself a million times.  Luckily tummies were full, so that wasn't an issue at least.  The drive out of northeastern WY is a beautiful one.  You know the pictures you see of the Sundance film festival?  Well, it's pure ranch land beauty.  Unfortunately, our view of it was short lived since it got dark fast.  No more view.  Good reason number one why not to travel at night.  Reason number two, as we crossed into South Dakota I couldn't get a picture of the welcome sign.  OK, not a terrible event in itself, but a bummer for our collection.

So, here we are, heading towards Deadwood, SD.  We were told there was a casino there we could spend the night in (the parking lot that is) and then the next day we were going to do some sightseeing, including a great free museum a friend highly recommended.  Deadwood BTW was a wild gold mining town frequented by Wild Bill Hickock, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, etc.

Driving, driving, driving, we finally made it to the town.  It was somewhere around 9PM already.

We located the casino but did not see anywhere one could park an RV.  After driving around the small town for a while, trying to figure out which end is up, S situated us in a public lot across the street from the casino and went in search of some info.  We waited in the car, parked along what I assume was a beautiful gulch and river.  All I could make of it was that there was a gulch there of some sort, but like I said, it was dark.  Returning to the car, S informed us that indeed there was free RV parking, but it was full.  And no, there was nowhere else in town to boondock (the term for dry camping, in this case free too) other than a large lot on the outskirts of town that we had ruled out already since it was fairly creepy.

What to do?!  by this point it was 9:30PM.  Another decision needed to be made.  We googled and found several campgrounds in the area, some close by some further out.  So, off we went in search of them.  The ones closer in were full.  As we proceeded south getting further and further away from Deadwood, we came across various campgrounds that were closed for the season already.  We also managed to cruise right by some that we didn't see in time to actually stop.  At some point we got so far away from Deadwood that we made the executive decision to not go back the next day and simply head on to Rapid City where we knew there was a Walmart waiting for us.  We were now looking at another 45 minutes of driving.....Some of the natives of the backseat had zonked out.  Some were trying but not succeeding and were therefore spending quite a bit of time whining and complaining....

All this driving, from WY to Rapid City, took us through the Black Hills.  A beautiful mountainous and heavily forested area.  I can say that now, after I've actually seen it in the daylight.  During our initial drive through them though we could not see a thing.  And they were indeed truly BLACK.  Reiterating reason number one for not driving at night.....

So.  Finally made it to Rapid City!  Hallelujah!  Yikes.........A big city in all it's glory (OK, relatively speaking!).  Noisy, crowded, dirty.  People people everywhere....This is not a criticism of Rapid City, just of big cities period.  We are not fans in case you didn't know.  We were extra thankful for our Walmart that night though, even if it was one of the more restless nights we've had to date.  Having the sweeper come through in the wee hours of the morning is not fun.

The drama of the evening was over and now that the next day had dawned we had some things we needed to accomplish.  And deal with.

To wrap up here though, we learned five valuable lessons from all this:

1.  Don't insist on sticking to a plan just because you made it.  That's just plain silly.
2.  If it's late in the afternoon or even evening already, for heaven's sake find a place and STOP!
3.  Avoid driving at night if you want to enjoy the view......DUH!
4.  Kids will eventually beg to crawl into their beds cause they're so gosh darn tired.
5.  Said kids whine a lot when it's late and they're tired.  Another DUH!

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