May 19, 2012
By Nick Larsen
It’s day five of the grand adventure across the nation, I have seen a great many sites, used the bathroom in every state I’ve entered, and played “I Spy” for two hours straight in one sitting. Last we left off I was sitting in a Motel in Iowa, resting off an exciting day figuring out if I trust towns that look like Children of the Corn; two days later I am now in Montana with the goal of finding Hannah. I know, poor joke, but I can dream! Currently I am in a small town called Livingston, watching cartoons after spending the whole day traveling through South Dakota and Wyoming. Today’s adventure was mainly one of the road, discovering that one can describe grass in an hour’s worth of ways and that everyone in Wyoming (at least that I saw) tucks their shirts in no matter what they wear. Not the greatest fashion statement but, I’m the guy with multicolor hair and facial piercings, so I guess I can’t judge.
With that being said lets cover yesterday’s journey instead! Leaving the state of Iowa, we traveled across to South Dakota, to visit Mount Rushmore. First thing to note about South Dakota, it is easily the most amazing state to look at so far. The lands seem empty but the landscape itself is beautiful and very diverse. At first it was mostly wide open plains, filled with the occasional farm, field, lake, and hill. Later it would change to a mountainous landscape, forests, and wide open areas with plateaus. While the land changes and the sites evolve, there are also a slew of entertaining billboards, most of which all dealt with some place called Wal Drug. Come to think of it, while I didn’t stop at Wal Drug, the signs seem to over sell it. Its major claim to fame seem to have been a T-Rex, free ice water, and five cent coffee. While it did have other signs (such as free doughnuts to honeymooners and western art) the over abundance of them build up excitement to what (from what I passed by) seemed underwhelming.
That wasn’t our main stop and we didn’t actually go there so if you get the chance, visit and let me know how it was! On to Mount Rushmore! Based high in the mountains, the view was amazing, and with the incoming storm, the weather was cooling; making it even more enjoyable. As enjoyable as it was, it was educational as well; not in the way you would think though. The main and most important lesson I learned was, Thomas Jefferson invented ice cream in America! Also, people give you strange looks when you keep claiming that you thought the Jackson 5 or the Ghostbusters were supposed to be carved in the mountain. After enjoying the view and taking countless pictures, my fellow adventurers and I moved onto a local campsite (another KOA), and set in for the night.
While we had stayed at a similar site once before, this one was of a much higher quality. Containing multiple playgrounds, pools, and a minigolf course, we spent the first couple of hours playing games and basketball until…the storm came. A large storm began to appear over the horizon, moving in faster and faster, limiting the time we had to make s’mores. We quickly started the campfire and roasted a few marshmallows as the first flashes of lightning struck. The local security team came over and gave us warning of a large thunderstorm and suggested to hide in the near by shower/bathroom. Taking our chances, we zipped up our tent and waited out the storm playing a game called Flux. As the storm came over us we cheered on our fire as it fought its way to live in the downpour, lasting out the storm and almost a full hour afterwards. That fire was badass!
As the night moved further we settled in for sleep…to be woken a few hours later by a bird crashing into the roof of our tent. Other than the occasional passing duck, the camping experience was even better than the last one. For now though, I’m off to enjoy the pool at the hotel. Enjoy your summer my fine feathered readers, next stop, Washington…the state!
Nick Larsen’s Cross Country Road Trip, Part 3