Saturday, May 29, 2010

day 16: i drove across south dakota

First of all, my mom should have been a boy scout. She is always prepared, and I’m convinced that after packing for something as simple as a four-hour trip across Kansas, she could feasibly survive for up to a month in the wilderness.

My brother and I are road-tripping to Yellowstone by way of Mt. Rushmore, and judging from the three bags she packed full of granola bars, Benadryl, Advil, first-aid kits, sunscreen, bug spray, Pepto-Bismol, flashlights, spare batteries, binoculars, etc., I think she’s convinced we’re going to die.

And today it did get a little scary. Most of Interstate 29 along the Iowa-Nebraska border and into eastern South Dakota is pretty much identical until you get to the Badlands. Today it was storming, and we could see heavy rain blurring the horizon and lightening streaking the sky several miles before we actually drove through it.

As rain and hail beat against the windshield, South Dakota quickly went from snorefest to intense. A few miles later the rain began to let up, and between the darkness of earth and clouds a strip of grayish sky hovered eerily (pictured above).

The storm was invigorating, allowing me to stay alert during the next 300 miles that featured an excessive amount of billboards advertising a place called Wall Drug, which could have been anything from a restaurant to a gift shop to a water park; the ads were not terribly specific. When we finally reached the exit, as far as we could tell it was a tricked-out gas station.

When the next surge of billboards hyped a place called Reptile Gardens, I imagined it was an iguana in a cage behind a curtain that some dude would let you peek at if you gave him 50 cents. Turns out it’s on the way to Mt. Rushmore, so I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

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