Hill City, SD to Cody, WY

A longer than average day. Breakfast at the hotel was early, so I hoped for a nice walk, but we were unable to find the trail that the front desk clerk gave us directions to. We ended up doing 45 minutes on suburban hills. It was fortunate that traffic was light, as there were no sidewalks. Saw a doe and a fawn, but we have those at home.

I found a novel way to cut myself shaving. As I shook the water off my razor, I scratched my leg, about where my right shorts pocket would be if I had been wearing them. Could have been worse, I suppose. Still, it left twin tracks a couple of inches long that wouldn’t stop seeping blood.

Had a strangely frustrating visit to a gas station. The pump said you could pump first and pay inside, but you couldn’t. (there was a large notice taped to the pump, contradicting the instructions on the screen) Then it wouldn’t take any plastic, so I had to go in and pay in advance. Then it still wouldn’t give me any gas, because they were out of the lowest grade and that note had gone missing. Then I went to put air in one tire that was down a pound, but the space by the air compressor was so tight that Caroline couldn’t open her door, so we couldn’t get our stuff organized. Deep breaths.

Once we got on the highway, things improved rapidly. We found a really nice picnic area just in time for our morning snack. The mower crew was just packing up when we pulled in, so the lawn was immaculate.

Our main stop today was Devil’s Tower. Since we only did a short morning walk, we walked around it. This takes about forty minutes on a paved path. I overheard a kid say that the top of the formation is about the size of a baseball field. It would be a great place to hit a home run – how hard are the outfielders going to try with that two hundred foot drop where the fence should be? 

On the way out, we stopped for lunch, so our total stop was longer than planned. 

That left us with an ETA for Cody of 1830, and we still had to stop at least once for gas. Not to mention the small matter of the Bighorn Mountains. Caroline is working on making me drive up and down every mountain road in western North America. In fact, I caught her looking at Utah in the road atlas, because we haven’t done theirs. Yet.

None of our photographs really show how steep and winding the road actually is. If you look closely at this picture taken on the climb, you can see a little of the road that lies behind us and far below. But it was the trip down the other side that was the steepest. We dropped from 9000 feet to 4500 in fifteen or twenty minutes. We saw three vehicles that had overheated trying to make the gruelling climb.

After that, it was plain sailing into Cody. We did go for dinner, but that write-up can wait for morning.

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