The Roadtrip Begins!

Annnnnd…we’re off. The first stop on our nomadic life adventure was Salt Lake City. This is quite a haul from Chicago so we broke up the drive into four manageable days, with a little sightseeing thrown in. We are frequently asked how the dogs travel. Well…you can see below that they seem to handle the road just fine.

Our route took us across the southern edge of the entire state of Minnesota. I thought this would be an uneventful leg of the trip, which it was, with one big exception. A “rainbow” contained within a single cloud. It was a bizarre sight. This uncommon phenomenon is called cloud iridescence. When a cloud’s properties and the water droplets/ice crystals inside are just right, light diffraction causes us to see colors in the cloud. It was an amazing sight to see and a fun way to start our trip.

Our second day of travel (my birthday!) included some more sightseeing. We were traveling across South Dakota from Sioux Falls to Spearfish. Between these stops we visited Badlands National Park as well as Mount Rushmore.

The Badlands was an incredible landscape. We only had time to do the scenic drive through the park, but I would love to do some hiking there, over the fascinating geologic features in the park. However, the scenic drive gave us ample opportunity to gawk at the unfamiliar landscape and some of the park’s wildlife, namely prairie dogs and bighorn sheep.

Once we had passed through the Badlands it was off to Mount Rushmore. I have to admit: I’ve always wanted to visit Mt. Rushmore, but…I don’t get it. What a weird monument. Four dead presidents carved into a mountain in the Black Hills National Forest. Really, in the middle of nowhere. But, as a history and outdoor lover, I had to check this weirdo monument out!

We couldn’t take the dogs up to the monument so we took turns making the short walk to the viewing area while the other watched the dogs. I have to say I think the dogs were more of a hit with kids than the monument 🙂 One more thing…if you visit, get the ice cream.

Our third day of travel started with a visit to the Days of ’76 Museum in Deadwood and a hike to Roughlock Falls in Spearfish Canyon. The museum displayed great information and artifacts from the history of Deadwood; a fascinating gold rush town. The hike was a stunner that I’ll talk about in a separate post as part of my 52 Hike Challenge.

After these stops it was time to cross the state line into Wyoming and visit Devil’s Tower AKA Bear Lodge. A 3-way debate still rages about how Devil’s Tower was actually formed, but all theories agree that this geologic feature was formed by magma forcing its way through other rock formations. American Indians had many connections to and names for this place. Several tribes called it Bear Lodge and there are many stories about the creation of this place according to each tribe’s religious and historical oral history. Ceremonies still take place at Bear Lodge and each summer climbing is suspended for a month to respect Indian religious traditions. We also had our first bison sighting near Devil’s Tower! So exciting. I love these creatures!

After our quick visit to Devil’s Tower we had a long day traveling across Wyoming to the small town of Rawlins, our last stop before SLC!

Our 4th and final day of travel did not include any sightseeing, only our much anticipated arrival in Salt Lake City! After four days and a couple thousand miles, we made it!

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