A brief turnoff in Rapid City afforded us the opportunity to have another car part replaced (at this rate, we’ll have a whole new vehicle by the time we get to Oregon, each spark plug a treasured memento of a different stop on our travels). Fortunately, we also got the opportunity to sample some local brews at the Firehouse Brewing Company, which makes a particularly delicious beer called Smoke Jumper Stout. Tam, perhaps homesick for New Orleans in all these American wanderings, had his with some gumbo.
Then to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where there once lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoo-oon...We camped in Custer State Park, where we encountered herds of bison on the way to the bathroom each morning and witnessed traffic jams caused by the meandering of antelope and big horn sheep.
The Black Hills seem to have inspired quite a number of endearingly loony engineering projects. There’s Mount Rushmore, of course, but there’s also a wildly improbable scenic highway created by blasting hole after hole out of the huge rocks and building a road that proceeds entirely in terrifying hairpin turns and rough-hewn log bridges. Part of it leads to a succession of enormous granite columns known as the Needles, which the equally insane descendants of the aforementioned crazy engineers like to climb. We stood by and gawked at this evidence of generations of eccentric enthusiasms.
We ate a dinner of locally snared rainbow trout and recently roaming buffalo at the Custer Game Lodge, where Calvin Coolidge once brought his family and staff for a summer White House retreat. The next morning, feeling quite au fait with the ways of the West, we took to the road once more. Next stop: Yellowstone!
More pictures of our exciting adventures are available here: