Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Piedmont, SD... still

So I was planning on leaving South Dakota tonight and heading towards Wyoming.  I was going to camp in the Black Hills tonight, after grabbing dinner at a place recommended by the food network.  Instead... I'm sitting in the same place as I was last night.  Which happens to be about a foot from where I left my phone charger when I tried to leave earlier tonight.

But before that story, a little about the last 24 hours.

After dinner last night we made a few plans for the morning, and then everyone sat around on their laptops and tried to get internet. (Except me, because I tethered to my phone, so I already had it.  Win.)  After a nice sleep, we got up in the morning and had omelets and buffalo sausage, and then headed out.  We took a trip out to Mt. Rushmore, but since I had been there the day before, I skipped on ahead and took the motorcycle to Lake Sylvan.  It turned out that the road we were going to go on costs $10 to use (park entrance fee), so I waited for the others to see if we really needed to go that way.
Aside: I really hate it when the charge you $10 for something like a park entrance fee (in this case, even to take the road through the park even if you weren't stopping) and then justify it by telling you that it's good for the next week, or the whole year, or whatever.  I don't need it for a week.  I need it for one hour.  Can I pro-rate it?  Because otherwise it's the most expensive toll-road I've ever been on (and I've taken the Skyway).
Lake Sylvan
We ended up splitting the entrance fee for my bike and the car between the six of us, so it wasn't as bad, and it turned out to be worth it - the Needles highway was awesome, and there was some sweet climbing to do too.

Needle's eye, one of the rock formations nearby

The route I took to get up to the top of one of the rock formations.  In retrospect, probably shouldn't have climbed this...

If you look closely, I'm next to that tree there, climbing up the thing in the last picture.
After that, we headed down to the Wildlife loop to see if we could spot some buffalo for Alex, and ended up finding the herd.  Since we achieved our goal of spotting the buffalo, we turned around and headed to Hill City and got some coffee and chocolate (I got a dark chocolate almond cluster that was about the size of the palm of my hand), and went to drop Ditte off at the bus station.

Unfortunately, Ditte only had a voucher, which doesn't reserve a seat.  When we got there, she was 8th on the waiting list, based on how many they thought they had on the bus, so we decided to hang around and wait until she found out, in case she needed to stay.  When they announced who could go on, everyone got on except Ditte and one other person - but then the lady asked if a kid could sit in someone's lap for one leg of the trip, so Ditte just barely got on.  They almost left her luggage there too, and would have, if we hadn't stopped the bus driver from closing the door and made him put it on.

Had she not made the bus, the next one was 24 hours later, and she didn't want to wait that long.  She told me that she was ready to travel alone again - a feeling I can sympathize with.  It's nice having a guide for certain things, and Carrie has been a wonderful guide for this area, but there's nothing quite like the autonomy of going wherever you want, whenever you want.

So then we got back, I grabbed my backpack quickly, and got on the road.  I got about half an hour away and stopped to charge my (dead) phone, and discovered that I did not have my phone charger.  Oops.  So I pulled out my spare battery and put it in, and called back to see if my charger was there... but no answer.  After waiting for half an hour for a call back, I assumed the phone was sitting somewhere not getting answered, so I just headed back to get my charger.  Sure enough, the charger was sitting right in the corner where I left it.  By the time I got back, it was too late to go anywhere or get anything set up as far as camping went, so here I sit, still in Piedmont.

Fortunately, my trip isn't too tightly scheduled, so this really didn't cause any problems, but it means I didn't get to go to the restaurant I wanted to, and I missed out on camping in either the Black Hills or the Badlands - I wanted to do one, but no dice.  So it goes.

Tomorrow to Wyoming.  About time, as I haven't added a state to the list since Saturday.

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