My last post concluded with us getting dinner in SLC. After dinner and a short walk around downtown, I took over driving for the night. As night fell, we were in the mountains getting close to the border of Wyoming. Somewhere just past Park City, I noticed one of the headlights had gone out, so we got out to replace it, as there just happened to be a spare lamp in the glove box. While doing that, quite a few bugs were attacking us which made trying to replace the light a lot more frustrating than it already was. Eventually, I mostly succeeded and we got back into the car, but it turns out one of the doors had been left open. Apparently, the bugs wanted to hitchhike, so a swarm moved into the car and started buzzing around as soon as we got in.
After murdering dozens of flying bugs inside of the car, I drove on. It was completely dark by the time we crossed into Wyoming and we drove all the way through overnight so I didn't actually see much of anything there. There also weren't a whole lot of lights or towns that we drove through, so I guess we didn't miss too much. A little after midnight, I exited the freeway because we were moving from I-80 to some other smaller highway, and because there was no junction, we had to drive through a very small town (Looking at a map, I think it may have been Rawlins). I was going about 10 over the limit down the completely empty main street because I had just got off the freeway, and wouldn't you know it, just as I was turning onto the other highway, I got pulled over for speeding. Okay, fine.
About 2 hours before getting to Mount Rushmore, I got too tired to drive so my dad took over for the final push. We got there just as the sun was rising, and luckily, the gate to the parking lot was open, but there were no attendants around to take our money, so we got in free. Benefits of being early I guess.
Another benefit of getting there early was no crowds. There were some people of course, but only 2 or 3 other groups, and they were all hanging out around the entrance. We went in looked at the mountain which you probably already know looks smaller in person and then took off after less than 5 minutes. The grounds are actually quite nice and there were even some very heavy-set goats that were eating all of the overgrown grass and weeds. Next stop: Badlands National Park.
Oh wait, that's a lie. The next stop is actually Rapid City, where my car broke down at a stop light. Sorry people behind us. I got out and pushed it to a conveniently located gas station on the other side of the intersection where we discovered it was an overheating issue. How lucky there was a gas station right there. I go in and get coolant, and then proceed to put to coolant into the coolant reservoir instead of the radiator. After a couple hours of internet research and phone calls to different auto shops, we did not succeed in finding any conclusive information about what the problem would be, nor did we find any auto shops that were open because it was a holiday. Fortunately, though, after driving around a bit, the car stopped overheating so we continued along and made it through the Badlands which are spectacular, and pictures can't really do it any justice. Seeing these vast grassy plains that stretch off into the horizon in one direction, and in the other direction drop off into these jagged volcanic formations is remarkable. If you're ever in South Dakota, it's totally worth checking out.
After that, it was smooth sailing all the way to Pittsburgh.
Find out more in the next installment of a classic American road trip.