Day 22: Long Haul to South Dakota

Today was D-Day, and by that I mean the sad departure from the Four Seasons.  The bellman took down our luggage and I was just relieved my stuffed outside suitcase pocket didn’t burst open and spill out the contents all over the lobby floor, which were all random soaps I’ve collected on this trip and, of course, every last L’Occitane product from the room.  That would have been a bit embarrassing, even for a gal clutching her plastic WWF luggage.

I’d like to take a moment to thank our dear friends J & J, who helped make this extravagant and highly memorable stay possible.  It was an amazing gift and we enjoyed every single moment.  As a matter of fact, when we were in the car and rolling away from the hotel, Jim commented that he doesn’t think anyone else on the planet enjoys the Four Seasons (and every last amenity) as much as I do.  So thank you, thank you, thank you.

We headed back onto I-70 eastbound, back up and over Vail Pass and then Loveland Pass, which was a wicked 11,990 feet.  A lot of the snow had been cleared but it was still coming down, making for icy and slushy conditions.  Jim once again did a great job and soon we were coming out of the Rockies and back down to more suitable elevations.  It really felt good to have our feet back on the ground after being lofted into the sky for a few days.

The route we drove to get us to the Black Hills area of South Dakota took us up the far eastern edge of Wyoming for a good distance.  WY is only missing the ‘H’ to ask the question on everyone’s mind:  why live here?  Oh, surely I jest, I’m sure it’s rife with lovely qualities, but you can definitely tell it is the least populated state in the Union.  We would drive for loooooong stretches of road without seeing a house, a town, or even cattle.  It was nothing but tumbleweeds as far as the eye could see.

Speaking of tumbleweeds, wind speeds today reached 40 mph along the corridor we drove and we saw a fair amount of tumbleweeds blowing across the road and over fences without abandon.  This brought about a whole new set of questions, such as Where do they go?  I mean, I’ve never seen any in Washington, DC, so they must reach their demise well before that.  But where?  Is there a huge tumbleweed pileup problem east of Wyoming?  Is there a tumbleweed season?  Very perplexing, these tumbleweeds.

We continued on through Wyoming, cutting east through a county that appeared on the map to have more unpaved roads than paved roads.  That is the county I’d like to be in charge of, as you could probably make a homemade apple pie for each of your constituents and win the election handily.

As we headed east into South Dakota we could see for miles and miles and I’m pretty sure on a clear day you can see Chicago, too.  Eventually we made it to Hot Springs, SD, a town in the southern portion of the Black Hills.  We checked into the Best Western Sundowner Inn and put together our plan for the next day, as our trip is winding down and we need to maximize our sightseeing.  This was a sobering thought, but we plan on making the most of the time we have left and proceed along making memory after memory.

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