2,124 miles and six days later, and my two "boys" arrived safely in Kila, Montana on August 9! The 2005 Rav was dusty, somewhat bug-splattered and sporting a taped-up windshield, but it handled the epic road trip in fine style.
As I mentioned in my August 1 post, #1 Son has moved home to continue his job search post-college graduation. Spousal Unit needed no further excuse to join him for a cross-country summer road trip, commencing in Columbus, Ohio. Here are the details that are fit to print!
Q: What was your favorite thing about the trip?
#1 Son: The nuclear silo. The mine with the physics experiments.
The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in Philip, South Dakota protects two facilities that were once part of a Minuteman Missile Field that covered the far western portion of South Dakota from 1963 through the early 1990s.
The Homestake Mine was an extensive underground gold mine, and until it closed in 2002, it was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America. The Homestake Mine is famous in scientific circles because of the work of a deep subterranean laboratory that was set up there in the 1960s. This was the site where the solar neutrino problem was first discovered. On July 10, 2007, the mine was selected by the National Science Foundation as the location for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. Experiments on neutrinos and dark matter particles often require an environment with limited radiation, a feature brought about by the depth of the mine. You can begin to get a sense for why this might thrill an Engineering Physics major with a specialization in nuclear engineering!
Q: Dad, what was your favorite?
Dad: #1 Son getting his geek on at the missile silo. The park (Minuteman Missile National Historic Site) was unexpected and well done. Devil's Tower. Driving across country with my son.
Devils Tower was the first national monument in the US, a full ten years before the formation of the National Park Service. An astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills, it is considered sacred by Northern Plains Indians and indigenous people. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest crack climbing areas in North America, and climbers could be seen on the day that my husband and son visited. (Devils Tower may appear as if it thrust up through the ground, but this dramatic formation was exposed gradually through the processes of weathering and erosion.)
Q: What was your least favorite thing about the trip?
(Both answered in unison): Driving across Iowa (laughter).
Iowa was an eight-hour day. They didn't even take any pictures until Day 3, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (I hope this does not offend any of my friends in Iowa.)
Q: What was the best meal you had?
#1 Son: beef tips at the Longhorn Steakhouse in Sundance, Wyoming.
Dad: best overall dining experience was the Livingston Bar and Grille in Livingston, Montana.
Q: What was the best place you stayed?
Both: Bear Lodge in Sundance (not to be confused with the Bear Motel - laughter). Custom built cottages.
Q: What was the strangest thing you saw?
Dad: outside Sturgis, a motorbike was adorned with a bison skin and hide, making it appear that the rider was astride a bison. Oh, and the rattlesnake in the drain.
#1 Son: the whole town of Wall, which was essentially the drugstore and 5 other shops/bars. Many of the walls of the store were decorated with plaques, identical in size and style, featuring the name of someone/an organization, and emblazoned with a unique brand like you might have seen on an animal. I suppose there was somewhere in the store that you could purchase one, but I didn't see it.
Dad: 200 miles before you arrived, the billboards began for Wall Drug Store. "Free Water". "5 cent coffee". "Boots, Buckles and Belts - Cowboy Up". "Homemade Donuts." "Six Foot Rabbit". In the store, there were hundreds of historical photographs, too.
#1 Son: and the animated T-Rex.
Dad: Pure American kitsch. And a great selection of socks!
Q: Do you have any recommendations for someone making the same journey?
#1 Son: Start at the Visitor Center for the Missile exhibit. Then take the northern loop through the Badlands. Visit the nuclear launch silo. Visit Wall. And you will still have time to drive part of the way to your destination.
Dad: Skip Mt. Rushmore or go when it is less busy.
#1 Son: if you have time, walk around Deadwood. We didn't get to, and it looked interesting.
And that, folks, is the end of the trail!
#1 Daughter and her boyfriend arrive today for a week of vacation, so many good times lie ahead. I will comment as normal on all links to today's post, but then I will be taking a week break from Mosaic Monday; please come back and link up to my August 30 post!