Monday, July 12, 1994
- From Ponderosa Inn, Billings, Montana
- To Best Western Lee’s Motor Inn, Chamberlain, South Dakota
- 627.0 miles
- 1 brew pub visited
Quote of the day: “How can they call it Rapid City when it takes so $%&@# long to get there?”– Dale
Yesterday: Day 10 – Glacier National Park to Billings
To start at the beginning of this series, go to Day 1
Today is our longest day on the road. The trip notes are all about fuel stops, mileage and motel options. We get the chance to cross the corner of Wyoming in our dash east, logging another new state in our travels. We have the Bighorn Mountains to our right and the Rosebud Mountains to our left. The Bighorns have some pretty tall peaks, while the Rosebuds are more like the Badlands topped with a layer of red stone.
After lunch in Buffalo, WY, we visit Devil’s Tower. I remember it from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and really didn’t believe it was a real rock until I see it up close. Devil’s Tower is such an anomaly on the landscape of the northeast corner of Wyoming. We decide it’s the geologic equivalent to a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
We chase a thunderstorm east all day, getting closer and closer, but never quite catching it. Into sunset, on the East side of Rapid City, the storm puts on an impressive lightning show. We stop at the Firehouse Brewing Company in Rapid City for dinner, where we find the food and beer to be very good. It’s an inviting space built in an old fire station, and a welcome stop for this group of weary travelers. After dinner, we make another 200 miles towards our destination of Chamberlain, South Dakota, where a motel room awaits.
As we are approaching Chamberlain, we find evidence of heavy rain. The road bed for I-90 in these parts was poured in the Johnson Administration (and I’m talking about Andrew Johnson here), so the rainwater is standing on the road.
We pass by several semi trucks that have been waiting out the storm in a rest stop. They get back on the road, and as they pass us one by one, the water they kick up in the left lane makes it impossible to see out the windshield. I can just barely make out the white stripe along the right edge of the slow lane as each truck passes us and drowns us out. It is very scary; we bail off the Interstate a few exits early, and take the small roads the last few miles to our motel.
Road weary, we take a swim and retire. We dub the swimming pool ”Lake Concrete” here.