Today began in tears. I managed to smash my finger in the car door before we even left the hotel in Wall, South Dakota.
So, typing this post feels really great. I’m compensating with my middle finger. Mom was manning the wheel today. If you missed yesterday’s post, it’s here.
We tried to find engine cleaner in hopes to resolve the engine light issue. We did not find it. The man at Wall’s automotive shop told us that it could be the altitude making the Oxygen sensor act up. We weren’t so sure about this, but he topped the car up with coolant and cleared the code again, we paid him and were on our way.
The plan was to get to Rapid City, get the cleaner and drive on to Mount Rushmore. From there we would drive to Billings, Montana to stay for the evening. This plan was vetted with all parties, two of whom have been to Mount Rushmore before. However, those two neglected to tell us Mt. Rushmore was BEFORE Rapid City. This may have been today’s theme:
Okay, so as we drove to the four presidents carved in granite, we called the AutoZone in Rapid City to verify that they did have our engine cleaner before we showed up. They confirmed that they did (and they told the truth).
Mount Rushmore was great. My mom and I share an interest in geology so we totally nerded-out all over the monument. She uh, may or may not have committed a federal crime involving current possession of hard objects which were supposed to belong to the government. I’m pleading the 5th.
From there we went to the Crazy Horse monument, which wasn’t finished but was still pretty cool. The man who took our money said it might be all complete in 40 years. We (not so) secretly hoped that was an exaggeration.
Followed Highway 16 back to Rapid City, picked up the cleaner, added gasoline, got back on the road.
Spoke again with the grandparents who ditched us at Mt. Rushmore and asked if they were on Hwy 212, the one set for us to take on my pre-planned Google Maps agenda. They did not, against the advice of their GPS “Maxine” as well. We were 3 hours behind them from Rapid City, but once we got on 212, we managed to make up for 2 of those hours. Google says there is only a 10 minute time difference but Google was incorrect, at least in this instance.
We passed through Cheyenne and Crow reservations which weren’t much as far as towns went but were all sprawling and gorgeous land. We crossed and passed the northeast corner of Wyoming, plains, plateaus, forest and extra-large hills (not quite mountains).
The 212 is worth it.
After we met back up with I-90, we stopped off at Taco John’s in Hardin, Montana, ate a quick bite, and then made it to our sketchy Billings hotel in about 40 minutes, despite poor direction-giving from our other trip half. Thanks again to Google Maps. Free wifi provided by Western Inn (not Best Western, and honestly so) and all my valuables are in this room with us.
Update on the license plate game: We only have 9 states left: Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia. We also added Canadian provinces since we have seen Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan. I’m also 99% sure I saw a Chihuahua, Mexico license.
In the morning we will hopefully rid my car of the engine issue for good and move on into mountainous territory where the real threat is not bears, but motion sickness.