Thursday, April 28, 2011
Was doing some spring cleaning and found my 2003 trip notes. This was my first "proper" road trip/vacation. I was finally out of school and had more than $25 in my checking account. I bought a nice 3 megapixel digital camera and rented a full-sized Chrysler Concorde.
I would do a lap. The starting point was Chicago. I would drive west to the Idaho border and then drive back. I would visit Illinois-Wisconsin-Minnesota-North Dakota-Montana-Wyoming-Montana-Wyoming-South Dakota-Minnesota-Wisconsin-Illinois. I had a week to drive 3,500+ miles. This is what I saw.
Day 1: As soon as I got out of Midway Airport, I got lost and I was stuck in traffic for an hour. I took a detour that wasted another couple of hours. It rained continuously until 11 p.m.
Wisconsin and Minnesota are flat and unremarkable. Only the skylines of the Twin Cities were cool.
I stopped at a Perkins in central Minnesota for a midnight dinner. A 50 year old guy with a heavy Minnesota accent struck up a conversation with me in the restroom (no foot tapping or wide stances were involved) about Fargo and the weather. I stayed at a $38/night motel room in Rothsay, Minnesota. It was really comfortable and clean.
Day 2: I begin driving at 8:30 a.m. It rained for most of the day. Had a great breakfast (but poor service) in North Dakota. I visited Teddy Roosevelt National Park, one of the least visited parks in the country. It was wet and foggy. A buffalo was 15 feet from me (my car) and I even saw a white tailed deer.
I had a $6 dinner in Montana-- 2 chicken fried steaks, soup, and big toast. Delicious. There was no sales tax. The meal was cooked and served by two old ladies.
I met an old man named Jim at my motel in Butte. He was very helpful and made suggestions on what I should visit tomorrow. I had to drive through some mountains to get to Butte. There is still snow on the ground (it's May) and it's 32 degrees F. I may have to skip Yellowstone.
Day 3: Butte is a cool ass city. It's a mining town and there are a lot of fancy buildings from the 1900s. There's mining equipment everywhere.
I went to the Berkeley Pit (7000 foot deep copper mining pit) just outside town.
I had a lot of time so I briefly visited Yellowstone. Saw elk, a bear cub, and Old Faithful. Buffalos caused several traffic jams. One even brushed up against my car while I was sitting in traffic.
It snowed heavily for 30 minutes while I waited for the great geyser to gush.
I end the day in Hardin, Montana, near Little Big Horn.
Day 4: I visited Custard's Last Stand at Little Big Horn.
Then it was to Devil's Tower. Stunning.
I stopped in Deadwood and visited the grave of Wild Bill Hickok.
Then it was to the Crazy Horse monument, which will take forever to complete. I kept two dynamited rocks as souvenirs.
I finished the day with a buffalo burger for dinner. It was so-so. I only drove 350 miles today.
Day 5: Saw Mt. Rushmore.
Then the Badlands.
And the world-famous Wall Drug Store.
There was a heavy storm between the Badlands and Wall Drug. Am in Worthington, Montana tonight. "Tired of driving, eating greasy food, staying in motel rooms. Just tired." End of notes.
Day 6: I have no record of the remainder of my road trip except for this shot from the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota. That wall is made of Spam cans.