10/11/2003: Day 3: Badlands, SD to Lovell, WY
We both woke at the Badlands Inn before 6:00 & watched the sun rise. It wasn’t worth the wait, but it was interesting to watch the red and gray striped erosion hills and hoodoos appear out of the night. While Karen showered, I got online via AOL's 800 #. The badlands are too far out for even AOL to have a local number. I sent out a brief email to my regular, indulgent readers and checked the weather for our planned path for the day.
We had breakfast at the Cedar Pass Lodge: Biscuits & gravy, oatmeal from whole oats, & Fry Bread! No fruit, blah coffee, but good Fry Bread!
Then we drove through the badlands for the scenery. After the past couple of warm days, the fierce cold wind & clear blue skies when we got out of the car to see the views were shocking. Karen was hopping-happy to be here. We finally got onto the road out of the badlands at Wall at 11:00. We gassed up near Rapid City, where I noticed that we are at high enough altitude for lower octane: 85%.
When Karen was driving, I noted the Drift fences set up to try to reduce the snow drifting across the highways. You know you are up high when they have snow fences.
By mid afternoon, we tried to find coffee in Gillette, WY: Karen stopped at Grannie's Kitchen across from Dan's Supermarket for some decent, if weak, coffee. We haven’t seen a sign of espresso-based coffee in days.
In Sheridan, WY we stopped for a visitor’s center (actually attended!) and then a gas stop at the Rock Shop gas station. The visitor’s center had a nice view, or maybe it was the lower oxygen getting to me.
Then on up I-90 to Ranchester, WY where we left the interstate system and took the old highway US-14 south then the smaller branch west across the Bighorn Mountain range. Winding and steep roads along even more steeply inclined geological strata up to about 9,800 feet. Snowy pines and birches framed the occasional deer. The downhill side on 14A was into the sun. I was pretty tired at 6:30 when we reached the crossroads town of Lovell, WY. We decided to overnight at the Horseshoe Bend motel, a restored vestige of an earlier age of travelers. Quite nice. The black Labrador, "Molly", met us at the car, and Karen had a Siamese cat to pet on a cushy chair as we chatted with the proprietress. Jo & Joe are the proprietors.