Once we left Wall Drug and the Badlands, we had to kind of figure out where we were going to go next. This many stops in one day was kind of unheard of for us because we liked to keep cruising. BUT we were kind of ahead of schedule and there was a lot to see over here. We didn’t have to be anywhere particular until September 8th (tell you why later) and from checking the map, we had more than enough time to get there AND take a look around.
We happened to be in the area of another major destination and we didn’t expect the town surrounding to be so populated and touristy. It was so cute though.
Here is where we went! This is our first sight of Mount Rushmore from the highway. It’s mesmerizing.
I don’t know if it’s our city showing but we were kind of dumbfounded to find this place teeming with people. I guess it’s because you always see a picture of this quiet mountain with it’s carved Presidents so stern and majestic. I certainly wasn’t expecting this:
But that’s silly because this is obviously a tourist destination and not a desolate forest area haha.
Anyway, it also turns out you have to pay to get in but you can only pay cash. (WTF.) We didn’t have any so the nice man just let us in for some reason. It’s good to be an American?
Here is sort of a close up shot of Mount Rushmore. Can you even imagine that someone painstakingly DID that?
I mean look at that detail?! How can you even tell if you’re doing a good job?
Here is Kristyn doing an obligatory pose in front of Mount Rushmore, natch. Isn’t she the cutest?
And here’s my fathead posing with our Nation’s forefathers.
I’ve included a picture of the soda machine at Mount Rushmore for two reasons:
1) It made me giggle at the time.
2) I figured it’s kind of a curiosity. I feel like it’s akin to wearing a tshirt with your own picture on it (which I have done before and totally do not judge as a life choice).
After that, we drove into Nebraska. We wanted to cover as much ground as possible to keep on track, especially since we took so much time sightseeing. In reality, we probably only took about an hour or so sightseeing total but we DID take a detour to get to Mount Rushmore.
Oh AND, remember how I told you that I would tell you something about Buffalo? We saw one REALLY up close. We got kind of lost in the woods around Mount Rushmore and ended up on sort of a rural road. We didn’t see the Buffalo until we were right up upon it. It was standing on the left side of the road. A motorcyclist passed within three feet of it and swerved screaming. We did the same. The reasons for swerving and screaming around the Buffalo are:
1) They are like six feet tall (at least in my mind they are) and like HUNDREDS OF POUNDS.
2) Therefore they can probably kill you with their MIND if they want to.
3) There are hysterical signs everywhere warning you about your life expectancy should you encounter and piss off a Buffalo.
4) These hysterical signs tell you that in no uncertain terms, you are on Buffalo Property and if you do something to make them kill you, you are on your goddamn own because you have been warned.
That being said, ENTERING NEBRASKA!
See that sign above and the one below? That’s Nebraska. Open fields and flat land everywhere. Nothing around. Well at least where we were. We kind of goofed and took what we thought was a highway (and was according to our maps). It was actually like a SERIOUSLY RURAL AND DESOLATE country road. Never. Doing. That. Again. So terrifying. When I say there was nothing, there was NOTHING. No houses, no gas stations, no phones…just empty fields. Now here’s the predicament:
1) The sun is going down.
2) We don’t know where we are.
3) Will we have enough gas to get to wherever it is we’re going? (a side note: we tried to set up hotels in advance but it logistically didn’t work because we could plan to get somewhere in time but what if we didn’t make it and ended up paying for the night in that hotel because we couldn’t cancel until the last minute?)
4) We’re in a rural area so our phones have dropped cellular and internet service.
We were really scared and pretty screwed. We, for some reason, thought we were getting on a highway that was a more direct route to “somewhere”. Because in NJ, when you turn off a major artery like the Parkway, there are always a lot of populated alternative routes to drive on. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE.
On this road you see below? We saw a town that you could actually SEE COMING. A cluster of houses with a sign that told you the population. The population? 18. Yes 18. 18 people. And honestly I doubt that shit. It was so abandoned looking. And like Christine pointed out, you KNOW every single one of those bastards probably owns a gun.
But that isn’t even the crazy thing. The crazy thing is that we came upon another town. It had a sign that read “Population 1”. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to stick around. I’m not trying to be city-dweller biased against country dwellers because I grew up spending my summers in Upstate NY where it is pretty damn rural. I have nothing but love for the rural life. But Population 1 just chills a bitch to the bone. You KNOW that if a town has one person in it and they advertise it as such, it is because that person WANTS it that way. Motion is not denied.
We eventually came upon a really cute little town that was not freaky at all. I guess they considered themselves a city because the rates for the hotels were outrageous for such a backwater. I could spend the same and get a cheap room in LA or NYC. But we found a clean place that I cannot for the life of me find pictures of. Shame too because it was one of our better rooms. It had a motel door opening but the room itself was gorg. The animals loved it and it was so comfortable. We were so tired and so hungry and full of adrenaline for being scared for so long that we were just excited to get the funk out of the car. We went across the street and got subs from Subway and housed them. We called our parents and siblings and friends to tell them we were definitely not dead. We gave the cats baths and clipped their nails after days of sweating in the car. We figured they would probably appreciate it once it was overwith and we were right. Everyone was snug as a bug in a rug and we were just happy not to be stuck on the side of the road in the dark.