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Memories Of Youthful Travels Part 6

Updated on April 30, 2010

We finally reached Badlands National Park, a beautiful Mecca of prehistoric rock formations surrounded by grassland and pseudo - desert. Civilization was at least a hour away; no gas, no groceries, no showers, nothing but the sights, smells, and sounds of pure nature: black footed ferrets, prairie dogs, bison, and pronghorns are only some of the native animals that past and present settlers tried to extinguish unsuccessfully.

Three days and two nights of camping were interrupted by more car trouble. An almost brand new tire decided to blow out in the most inconvenient place. I decided to punish the car by giving it a Hong Kong Fooey kick to the fender, leaving a nice big dent. Like I could really cause the car to feel physical pain! Anyway, it made me feel good. After taking a few minutes to calm down, I pulled all our stuff out of the car, removed the damn temporary tire (that poor, donut shaped excuse for a wheel marked "do not drive over 50 miles per hour") and proceeded to switch it with the dead one. I asked our neighbor in the next campsite for a tire gauge, checked the pressure (10 psi - dangerously low) then borrowed a portable pump to inflate it.

On our last morning in the Badlands, while we were washing up and brushing teeth, our neighbor left a pleasant surprise on the windshield: the tire pressure gauge, a note that said "screw you - here's some money," along with a $100 bill. Blessed with this good omen we headed to Rapid City at 65 miles per hour - tempting the Donut Tire Gods - to buy ourselves a new tire.

For the next three hours we were hit with a deluge of signs pronouncing "Wall Drug - Just Around the Corner," "See the 80 foot Dinosaur at Wall Drug," "Wall Drug - the World's Largest Pharmacy," "Free Coffee at Wall Drug," "Wall Drug: a Great Place to Poop," and "Just Say Yes to Wall Drug." We stopped in the town of Wall to see what all the fuss was about, got some free coffee (for hunters, truckers, and newlyweds), pooped, mingled with the hundreds of RVers, and took off for Country General, a kind of rancher's K - Mart in Rapid City, to buy our tire.

Country General is probably the only place in the world you can find guns, cattle prods, nose rings ( for the cows, silly ), propane, dried PigsEarz (yum) and huge syringes of Geratol for horses stacked next to each other. With the remaining $30 of Mr. Tire Gauge's money, we headed for Custer State Park, home of the nation's largest herd of bison as well as a bunch of really tame and stubborn mules that sit in the road until you feed them leftover Ho - Ho's, and a tribute to the General who killed at least as many Indians as he did buffaloes. The next morning we woke up to snow, snow that followed us all the way to Devil's Tower National Monument. Snow that forced us off the road in Sheridan, Wyoming, where tourist - baiting is the only pastime. Snow that clung to the mountains as we made our way to Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone. Snow that finally disappeared for the rest of the trip by the time we set up camp on Colter Bay.

Continued In Memories Of Youthful Travels Part 7

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