Monday July 6: Rapid City to Kadoka

105.6 miles, great scenery for first 90 miles. The Badlands are awesome. The bugs are not.

Ro's Phrase Of The Day:

We got up at 6am and finished packing for a 6:30am trip to camp to drop off our bags. For the first time, we got a Rapid Taxi driver who just had no clue -- wasn't sure where camp was, or that we were talking about bicycles and not motorcycles (admittedly, motorcycles are the hot topic for August, when the annual rally at Sturgis happens). He probably just hadn't worked all weekend and didn't know we'd been swamping the entire city's cab service since saturday night. *smile*. We got back to the hotel and had breakfast, then joined where it passed nearest to our hotel, about 2.6 miles into the course.

Pit 1, in Caputa, was a surprise...I didn't know it was coming quite so soon. The wind had finally shifted from the south/southeast, and we had a nice northern wind giving us a bit of help in the morning. The weather forecast said upper 90s for the temperature, but the entire sky remained cloudy with the expected rainstorms for most of the day. This was great -- much cooler for us! We then went through the Cheyenne river valley -- gorgeous, but the bridge didn't have enough of a shoulder to allow a good picture.

The scenery shots:

Pit 2 was in the town of Scenic (population 67), SD. This town is the first town you would reach off of Hwy 44 East when heading towards the Badlands. The highway actually leads travellers through one portion of the Badlands, out again through the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, and then to Highway 377, which again winds through the Badlands (most of this is on a northerly route). Pit 3 was in Interior, which is a very aptly named town because although it is not in the Badlands National Park, the rock formations are very prevalent, and the town is literally ringed by some of the more knife-like formations. It would have been a good shot had I thought to take one on the approach into Interior.

More scenery shots:

When we exited the Badlands again, we continued on 377 towards Cactus Flats (we didn't see cactus, but there is a Cactus Cafe in Cactus Flats), and the World's Largest Prairie Dog. No, it's not a real prairie dog, it's a statue of one, but it was definitely huge. It was at what was both a gift shop and a prairie dog town -- you could buy them food and they'd eat "out of your hand" (so advertised). Actually, they certainly didn't seem afraid of any of the humans around. And I saw at least 2 dozen of them poking their heads out of holes or running around. We then turned onto the service road for I-90 and headed east. This was a really difficult section at first -- very steep rolling hills, and I was tired. But, Ro helped push me up the first really steep one which I'd been on forever (it seemed) in my lowest gear, and that seemed to bootstrap me into powering down and powering up the rest. We still took a couple of breaks -- the sun was now fully out, and it was very very hot and we were both sweating a lot -- so we hydrated!! But by and large it was much better (if not easier) with the power approach. The city of Kadoka, when it did appear, played games on us, though. It seemed to be at the same distance over the space of 30 or 40 minutes -- very very frustrating! But finally, we made it in, and after setting up the tent we both dashed to the showers. That coat of sunscreen, bug spray, sweat, road grime, and dead bugs just wasn't appealing. blech. The evening was nicer - it cooled off and the wind kicked up, so even the mosquitos weren't as bad as they could have been!!

Addendum -- well after sunset, with just the red glow in the sky, a huge very low, very dark, very menacing, and very long cloud front swept over camp. In about 20 minutes it had gone from one side of the horizon to past the camp, with all the lightning luckily being concentrated on the north end, away from camp. Most of the lightning was cloud-to-cloud, too. Just as it was passing over, the wind really kicked up, and the cloud did have fringy finger-like extensions all along the edge, but none touched down and it seems to have missed us, although it's not moving on as fast as it approached. No rain at all (yet). Mmmm...tornado country?

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