Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We weren't in Kansas but...

We hauled across Wyoming trying to get to Mt Rushmore and the Badlands before dark. It was a beautiful day, a bit hot but still gorgeous. We took some time through the Bighorn, which boasts 9.5K elevations with open range for sheep and cattle. We were making good time until we got to the two mtn ranges we had to cross, then we were slowed down significantly by RV traffic. We arrived at Mt. Rushmore at 5PM and after a VACATION view and a photo op of Chris picking Lincoln's nose we hopped back in the car with the intention of getting to Badlands before dark. With no firm plans on where to stay we decided to make a reservation that was at a KOA 30 miles east of Badlands and headed out so that we would have an easy morning getting on the road.
We arrived at Badlands just before sunset, pronghorn grazing along the road and a lightening show from a storm raging somewhere in the distance. The light show was amazing.  As we traveled the loop road at dusk, it was eerie but cool. We left towards our night's accommodation's just as that storm reached Cedar Pass. I kept a firm eye on both it and NOAA. There was a no notice of concern other than a scattered thunderstorm warning. The storm at Cedar Pass was picking up and it was following us.
We arrived at the KOA just before 10 and before the storm hit and set up camp. We had figured that as long as we set up, even if we had to wait it out in the car we wouldn't have to deal with setting up when it was wet (mistake number 1). We through all our gear in the tent too. (mistake number 2). Then the storm hit with lightening that was close enough to raise the hair and wind that was attempting to toss the car. As we waited out the storm inside the Subaru, we watched as our tent broke loose of its footing on one side and toppled over. When it was all said and done, our tent poles were snapped, the fabric was ripped, the tarp and rain fly was in a field a half mile away, and our gear was in a puddle. The MUD was another factor. We bagged up all the wet stuff in garbage bags, dragged the tent to the dumpster, loaded the bikes and sat for a minute in the drizzling aftermath trying to figure out our next step. The campground manager came by and asked us if we were ok. We told him we were going to try to find accommodations with 4 walls. Somehow, as if I was on automatic pilot I asked the guy if there were any cabins available. I was that tired. I didn't want to drive another mile let alone 60. The campground offered us a cabin for nothing. I think they felt bad because they had not been able to warn us about the storm. NOAA didn't post the HAZARDOUS weather warning until it was right on top of us. We took advantage of the dryers in the laundry room and got the sleeping bags dried in 20 minutes. We finally get to bed just past midnight, which all things considered, was no big deal though it made traveling yesterday difficult.
After another 8 hour driving day, we ended up in Roseville, MN at our friends house. What a treat, good company, great fun and relaxing. Today? We will be off to Chicago momentarily.

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