West Yellowstone to Gillette, WY

Up at 7:30am. Not a good sleep. I was constantly awake because of my nose. Feeling better overall at least. Up and at it, we went to McDonalds for breakfast (gaaaaah! they had free wifi, so that’s our excuse this time). Seriously, this is the last time we’re eating there. Anne had a “mcgriddle” which has a bun impregnated with syrup. This is when we started the conspiracy that McDonalds is run by a terrorist organization and is trying to slowly kill the American populace with terrible food. Anyways, here we planned our trip. It’s going to be a long way. Right now the plan is to visit Little Bighorn (a war monument), then to Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Milwaukee and then a ferry across Lake Michigan, and then to Windsor.

In the morning we did some shopping. I bought some postcards and got a nice set of Bushnell binoculars. They’re permanently in focus so you don’t even have to refocus on anything. Nice! They were about $70, but I think they’re a solid set.

Lucky I bought them because as soon as we went back into Yellowstone (the easiest way to move East), we saw big herds of elk, a trumpeter swan, a herd of bison, otters, and a bison about 5 feet from the car! I found a cool trick where I can put my camera lens in my binocular lens. Then I zoom and get double magnification! It’s like I bought a nice expensive lens. Wow!

Near the north exit we got stopped for more construction and the road worker was telling us about a coyote that keeps trying to steal his lunch on the side of the road. He also told us that, “The most dangerous animal in the entire park is the rented RV.” No one knows how to drive them and they just fly down the roads mowing down wildlife and road workers apparently.

After we left Yellowstone (aww) it was a relatively long and boring drive. Anne and Will saw a pronghorn on the side of the road. I missed it though, boo. They’re pretty cool animals it seems. They look like African antelope. Will says that there used to be a North American cheetah which used to be their only predator. The cheetah became extinct and then the pronghorn was left feeling pretty comfortable.

Later we stopped at the Little Bighorn memorial. Will was like a kid in a 200 year old candy store; he’s very interested in history. I was a bit less enthusiastic because I’d never heard of Little Bighorn before. Lt. Col. Custer led the American troops to a defeat in his famous last stand while trying to commit cultural genocide and convert all the Lakota people to Christianity and keep them in reservations. Oh and to take all of their land as well. It made it hard to feel sorry for them, really. Sitting Bull, the Lakota chief is said to have “shunned reservation life” wanting to keep a traditional way of life and led several bands of Sioux and Cheyenne in defiance of the US government. In the other corner we have, Ulysses S. Grant, who is quoted as saying the US military’s purpose here was, “…to Christianize and civilize the Indian and train him in the arts of peace”. Also the monument is dedicated to “soldiers killed … while clearing the district of hostile indians”. It was a very interesting exhibit in the end, but definitely not what I was expecting.

I took over driving at around 6pm and drove till about 9. We ended up in Gillette, not Rapid City as we had hoped. The reason was it was so very dark and the drive was possibly more stressful than Yellowstone. Yellowstone only had the threat of animals running across the road, yet we didn’t see any. This drive, we had one deer run out in front of the car, as well as seeing several on the side of the road. The hi-beams also scared one large male with antlers from crossing the road, so we were thankful for that!

Once we got near Gillette there was a bright light on the horizon. At first we thought it was the light from the town, but once the hills cleared we actually saw a bright red moon on the horizon lighting up the hills. We tried to take some pictures of it, but it was too difficult when driving and too dangerous to stop. This is what you get. Don’t complain, it’s free!

In Gillette we stayed at the Super 8. It’s been good to us so far, so we always use it as a safe bet. Funnily enough, in the lobby there was a vending machine with a Schick razor inside … in the town of Gillette. Reception girl thought that was pretty funny too.

I didn’t eat dinner because I’d had a wonderful chipotle wrap earlier, so Anne and Will ate at Subway. We watched some of Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show and checked out some Youtube videos of David Caruso being ridiculous on CSI: Miami.

Before I went to sleep I checked out what to do in South Dakota. Turns out Mt. Rushmore is right outside Rapid City (where we originally wanted to drive but it was too dark!). So that, and the Badlands National Park are on the route for tomorrow as we head to Sioux Falls.