After leaving Wyoming, we entered South Dakota and immediately made a bee line to Sturgis. The reason? Not the annual motorcycle rally, but after being on the go for so long, we were in need of a bit of rest and relaxation. So a fully equipped RV campsite to the rescue, and we spent a few days just chilling in Sturgis (aside from a day trip to visit the Mount Rushmore and Crazy horse memorials). Too bad Mount Rushmore’s museum was closed for renovations…we might have to revisit when it opens again. Crazy horse impressed due to its sheer scale and size, and is the world’s largest mountain carving! No wonder it is taking forever to complete. After our time in Sturgis, we drove towards Badlands National Park, stopping by Wall Drug to check out this South Dakota must do. Definitely a tourist trap, but a fun one at that. Badlands was pretty awesome – stunning geologic formations and an easy driving loop with viewpoints along the way. From Badlands, we drove towards Sioux Falls to get our tire checked out before the onward drive through Minnesota towards Wisconsin. First stop in the Badger State was to Milwaukee to visit an old army friend, Larry Boyd, and meet his family. Then it was up north to St Nazianz to link up with Nancy Rivera, our friend from our Afghanistan and Iraq contracting days. So great to catch up over a fish fry dinner at Meat’s Opera Haus bar in town, topped with a Sun Drop soda pop and Spotted Cow beer. From St Nazianz, our plan was to drive all the way to Ohio to link up with another contracting buddy, but we had a tire blowout and needed to spend some time getting all of our tires replaced. Thankfully, the blowout happened near another Discount Tire shop who took great care of us and sent us on our way. We made it as far as Indianapolis, Indiana that day, and caught up with Larry Franklin in Middletown, Ohio the next day. It was great seeing him in a non combat zone, and we enjoyed our full day roller coaster adventure at Kings Island amusement park. From Middletown, our last stop in Ohio was another reunion with an old friend, Becky’s roommate from West Point, Katina Chesser. Amazingly, they hadn’t seen each other in 22 years, and were able to pick things up as if no time had passed. Our trip has definitely felt like a series of reunions lately, which is great as we have been out of the country for decades and this road trip was way overdue. Next up will be Kentucky and Tennessee so stay tuned!
7 Jul: Enter South Dakota from Devil’s Tower (Wyoming). O/n at Days End RV Campground in Sturgis. ($22.50 per night for electricity, water, dump station, hot water showers, free WiFi)
8 Jul: Sturgis. O/n Days End RV Campground.
9 Jul: Drove to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorials. O/n Days End RV Campground in Sturgis.
10 Jul: Drove towards Badlands National Park, stopped at Wall Drug on the way. Did the Badlands NP loop road before heading east. Visited Dignity Statue near Chamberlain. O/n free camping at Sioux Falls Walmart.
11 Jul: Visited Discount Tire in Sioux Falls to work on wobbly tire. Drove towards Sparta, Wisconsin. O/n free camping at Sparta Walmart.
12 Jul: Drove towards Milwaukee to visit the Boyd family. Evening drive to St Nazianz to visit with Nancy Rivera. O/n at Nancy’s house in St Nazianz.
13 Jul: Drove towards Chicago. Had a tire blowout so drove towards another Discount Tire store to replace all tires. Drove to Indianapolis. O/n at the Walmart in Greenfield, IN.
14 Jul: Drove to Middletown, OH for a reunion with Larry Frankin. O/n at Larry’s house.
15 Jul: Drove to Kings Island for a full day of rollercoasters. O/n at Larry’s house.
16 Jul: Drove towards Cincinnati. Stopped by Jungle Jim’s international food store. Reunion with Katina Chesser at her house near Cincinnati. Drove towards Louisville, KY.