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In the morning, Seth & I started looking for a place to stop. We waited until we crossed the time zone & entered us a small town only to find no vacancies at the backwoods, Bates Motel. The town itself consisted almost entirely of a small group of phoney-looking, run-down shops like the façades in an old western.

In Kadoka, we stopped for gas, and again, no vacancies. The gas station girl, with bleach hair & drawn on eyebrows told us the whole state was booked because of the Sturgis Rally. She suggested that Seth & I “find a biker bimbo and share her.” Despite her appearance, we didn’t figure she meant for herself & we instead opted for some No-Doz before driving on.

Once in Rapid City, Seth & I stopped at a Happy Chef at about 3:30. The other patrons were trying to one-up the other members of their group with inane presidential trivial & stories about snipers & mine removal. We then took off back for Wall to see the Badlands at sunrise. Under the big sky & in the quiet wind it was a spectacular sight. We cruised through the area, taking a few pictures before heading for Mount Rushmore.

I slept for most of the drive there and Seth got us there, still fairly early in the morning. As with all sights of its sort, it wasn’t terribly exciting or at all different from what one would expect after being inundated with images in films & photos. We did have to see it, in all its kitschy glory & take a few obligatory gag photos.

Our next stop was Sturgis which was converted for the time being into a massive collection of bikers & Harley Davison paraphernalia booths. The air actually smelled strongly of leather. Before leaving, we stopped at a McDonald’s. In the bathroom, I actually made my urinal neighbor, a 7 feet tall Harley boy, pee shy and he gave up and left. Seth reported, with surprise, that they were still serving breakfast & we were shocked to discover it was only 10:30.

Our next destination was Deadwood, followed by Lead (Leed) but I was feeling hot, bitchy, grimy & tired so we just drove through. Shortly after heading out, I fell asleep & didn’t wake up until shortly before we stopped in Moorcroft, Wyoming to get gas.

I took over & drove us to Buffalo where we had lunch at Pizza Hut. From there we opted to take the “safest,fastest” route to Yellowstone. This involved a jaunt through the Bighorn Mountains. It was breathtakingly beautiful & all that but it’s now infamous for being the first & hopefully last major hassle on our trip.

As we left the mountains, it seems, I “cooked the brakes.” All I knew was that the car was shimmying & I pulled over. Seth & I unpacked the trunk & I started making sure the tires were on tight. I broke one of them [the lug nuts] off. After an aborted attempt by Seth to see if anyone was in a nearby ranch (dogs) I ventured up the drive & got, no doubt, a similar hysterical reception by the sheepdogs.

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