Tuesday, August 03, 2004

It's Tuesday ... I must be in South Dakota

I'm in Rapid City, South Dakota tonight as my mom and I continue driving east across the country. We decided to take the scenic route across Wyoming, using US 89 north through both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. We made a few stops in each park on the drive, but didn't spent too much time at either place. However, I couldn't pass up going to a few hot springs, mainly so I could see some thermophilic Archaeans (which I didn't even know existed last time I went to the park). While I was walking around the pools admiring the colorful bacteria, a little girl complained loudly about the smell (of sulfur) to her parents and then said, "If I smell it anymore my nose is going to fall off!"

After Yellowstone we headed east on US 14 through Bighorn National Forest, which was the nicest surprise of the drive so far. The road went through some stunning rocky canyons before giving us a magnificent view of rolling hills receding out to the eastern horizon more than 5,000 feet below us. I'll definitely have more to say about this drive once I can put pictures up; it's one of the neatest I've ever done.

Today we explored some of the Black Hills National Forest, visiting both the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore National Monument. It started pouring rain at Mount Rushmore, so we didn't get to see everything there, but at least we saw the faces in the rock before they were obscured by clouds (which was very neat as well).

The area here in South Dakota is filled with bikers thanks to the quickly approaching Sturgis motorcycle rally. My mom is somewhat annoyed by this, but I think it's darn cool. While driving around in the last day I've seen touring bikes, cruisers, show-bikes, some three-wheeled bikes, bikes towing trailers, cars towing trailers full of bikes, packs of riders everywhere, and more leather and black t-shirts than I've seen in my entire life. I've never ridden a motorcycle on the street (though I have in a training course), but seeing all these cool bikes makes me want to grab a helmet and buy a touring bike to travel the country on.

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