It’s been a long time since we put the gas pedal down and burned through some miles. But this week, that’s exactly what we did.We left Minneapolis and crossed into South Dakota, stopping for a night near Sioux Falls. In the middle of the city is the falls that give Sioux Falls its name. I worked for an afternoon along the water while Mike explore the town on his road bike. It was sunny, warm…and windy.
The next day we stopped at the Pettigrew House and Museum. The house was owned by the state’s first senator, and we arrived in time to hop on a tour. The tour guide shared interesting stories about Senator Pettigrew and his politics, including his pride at being indicted for treason after opposing the United States involvement in the first World War. He hung this indictment next to a copy of the Constitution in his stairway, and I left the house really liking this long-gone politician.We left Sioux Falls with our sights set on Badlands, clear on the other side of South Dakota. We stopped in Chamberlain to visit the Akta Lakota Museum and then moved on to Mitchell to see the Corn Palace. It is pheasant hunting season and Cabelas, where we parked for the night, was hosting a pheasant hunting tournament. I enjoyed watching hunters practice their dogs on the big grassy yard by the parking lot. Such well trained bird dogs!
Finally, we rolled into Badlands after a windy drive down Interstate 90. It’s been over a decade since I’ve been to Badlands National Park, and we spent two days hiking, exploring, and watching wildlife and birds. Badlands was a perfect introduction back to the big land of the West. For one, it is in Mountain Standard Time, and it feels good to be back! Badlands is also arid with beautiful scenery, doesn’t have many people, and is an open-hike park (meaning you can hike wherever you want, on or off trail).We stayed just outside the park in the Buffalo Gap Grasslands. There is a phenomenal dry camping area in the Grasslands, perched on the edge of a cliff with a panoramic view into Badlands. Ahh, the West. So happy to be home.The second night of camping in Buffalo Gap we set up camp, watched a beautiful sunset, ate dinner, and then the wind hit us like a ton of bricks. It had been a calm day, but 60 mile per hour gusts buffeted the side of Hobbes. It’s like being on a small ship in a very stormy sea…including feeling like you’re going to tip over. We have never done this before but we packed up camp and drove, in our pajamas, 60 miles down a very windy highway and checked into a hotel in Grand Rapids. Judging by the number of other campers and vans in the parking lot, we weren’t the only ones to take this route.We stayed in Rapid City the next morning, using the opportunity in a warm hotel room to catch up on some work and eat a big breakfast. We waffled on what to do next. Cold weather was in the forecast and though we had hoped to stay north until reaching Idaho in mid-November, it wasn’t going to be possible. We charted a route toward Moab, where it’s reliably warm but still within a days drive of Sun Valley.A strong southern wind allowed us to make our way down Wyoming without the driving being dangerous in our high profile vehicle. We spent a night a Cheyenne and then scooted down to Colorado’s Front Range. The past few days I’ve worked from Fort Collins and my company’s office in Boulder. We met another Tiger owner with a Bengal named Hobbes, and enjoyed their company at their house for drinks and dinner. They invited us to camp on their beautiful property for the night, which made me all the more grateful for the cool community of Tiger owners we’ve found.I’m writing today from a friend’s house in Boulder, where we’re spending the weekend. Yesterday it snowed and, though we planned to avoid the coldest weather, we are making the most of the winter wonderland we’ve landed in. We’re keeping a close eye on Hobbes (and his pipes!), and luckily it’s supposed to warm up over the next few days.So, with this whirlwind of South Dakota and Wyoming behind us, what’s next? We still plan to make our way to Moab and hunker down in its warmth until we head north to Idaho for part of November and December. I am so grateful for the kindness of the friends – and strangers! – who continue to support us on this journey with words of encouragement and advice, a place to park for the night, great conversations over a cold beer, warm meals, showers…the list is endless. Every day I’m reminded not only how lucky I am, but how kind the world can be. Thank you everyone. You are creating a depth and warmth to this journey that I didn’t anticipate, and am grateful for.
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