Day 28: Breezing Through The Badlands

September 30, 2002
Rapid City to Interior
67 Miles Google Map

An outstanding day!

This morning’s weather forecast called for “brisk” northwest winds — perfect for my plan to take Highway 44 southeast. In my eagerness to get underway and take advantage of the conditions (not to mention escaping a crappy city), I was out on the road by a quarter to eight.

The wind started up immediately, literally pushing me down the highway. The only real problem were occasional cracks in the pavement that made things a bit bumpy. These came and went all day depending upon how recently the surface had been repaved.

I made the forty-two miles to Scenic in an hour and forty-five minutes, which I believe is a new speed record. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see there. Just some dried, worn out buildings. Hardly any signs of life. I took a half hour break meandering around, then continued on. Towards the Badlands.

What forbidding, rugged beauty! Thanks to the strong wind, I was able to travel at a brisk clip with minimal effort, taking in scenery unchanged from the days of the old Wild West. Cross country cycling at its finest.

About five miles before my destination, I took a roadside break next to a field where four fellows were riding about on their motorcycles. Soon one of them stopped over to say hello. It turns out that they are all brothers involved in the ranching business. We must have talked for almost an hour, comparing our Midwest backgrounds (I had gown up on a farm in North Central Iowa). I was also interested in their views of their senator, Tom Daschle, as well as the state’s people in general. In return, they had some questions about my computer career and the dot com scene in Seattle. I answered as best I could, though I am clueless on the latest technology.

We jointly lamented single parent families, the post-9/11 atmosphere of suspicion, and the demands of farming. Coming from three generations of farmers, I could empathize with their difficulties and though I’m a confirmed city slicker, was quite comfortable around them. They would have liked me to come stay at one of their homes, which sounded like a bed-and-breakfast setup, but I had already made reservations.

My accommodations for tonight are at The Budget Host, a combination motel and camping area. The couple in charge have given me the phone number of a good motel down the road for tomorrow night. A marked improvement over yesterday’s concierge services in Rapid City.

I like this place. It’s quiet, comfy (I’m writing outside on the “porch” to my room), and has an awesome view of what must be the eastern end of the Badlands Wall. No phone or TV, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s worth coming back to. 

Just went to the office to get something to drink and talk some more with the owners. They are both in their early-to-mid seventies and own a ranch twelve miles from here as well as a home in Rapid City. Today is the last day of the season and they are starting to close up the rooms. It’s kind of fun to be around for this, and I’m glad I didn’t arrive one day later! 

It’s getting dark and I can see headlights off in the distance making their way down the “wall” from Cedar Pass. Slowly descending to Earth… Tentative… Searching…

    Today:          67 Miles 
    To Date:  1,376 Miles / 2,214 Kilometers


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