If there was a fork in the road, we took the wrong one; if there was a turn, we tuned the wrong way. It was one of those days. I thought I was choosing a shorter route but instead it was a narrow, winding road with a tunnel four inches wider than our camper. Bless Ralph! He managed like a champ. In spite of ourselves, we did find Wind Cave National Park. Never heard of it? Neither had I till this trip.
WCNP is a fascinating phenomena - because the cave tries to equalize the pressure to the outside, there’s either a strong wind blowing out of the only natural entrance to the cave or there’s a vacuum, sucking things in. Our ranger was a caver (most of the rangers there are cavers) so he offered some interesting insights. We had to walk down about 300 steps (not all at one time, thank goodness) but had an elevator to return us to the surface. At one point we were 185 feet below ground. The two man-made entrrances are vapor-locked to prevent as such contamination as possible. They have explored only about 5% of the cave so there’s no telling the extent of it.
We stopped outside a casino and had lunch in the camper. Note: every Indian reservation in SD has a casino and there are a LOT of reservations.
Our next destination was the Badlands National Park - good luck. Our bad choices continued, but this time we could blame poor signage for part of the problem. What should have been an hours trip took us over two. Finally we arrived at the south entrance to the park - one that most people never see. The ranger said most people who came there found it by accident. It’s on a Lakota reservation and all the rangers were native Americans so we had an interesting conversation with them about Custer and the massacre at Wounded Knee, which is very close to the park.
Since it was close to closing time, we elected to drive through the north section of the park. Another bad choice - the road wasn’t paved. It was a red gravel road that Ralph said was almost as bad as the slush and ice he drove through at Glacier. We exited ASAP and headed to I-90.
As we drove east (finally!), we passed a sign that informed us we were entering the Central time zone. Now we’re only one hour ahead of most of you. (In Alaska we were 4 hours ahead so it’s been decreasing as we head east).
Finally hunger forced us to stop. We had supper at Arby’s (their gyro was really good - nice surprise) and then parked out back for the night. There were about 8 big rigs lined up near us, ready to head out in the morning. Guess they’ll be our alarm clock.