Fun fact: sleeping in someone’s yard in South Dakota is not as weird as sleeping someone’s driveway in Tampa. Or maybe it was the 5 months in between that don’t make it weird for us. Sam’s friend from Florida flew into South Dakota to catch up with his old friend in South Dakota and we crashed the party so the Old Man and I could get a taste of home and talk to other people.
Our host and crew went out on a flight that we didn’t fit on so the Old Man, pups and I headed into Custer State Park after a nice slow to get moving morning. We had driven through the park the day before on our ways to our home for the weekend, but didn’t have time to stop and play as we needed to get “home” for dinner.
If ever in South Dakota make sure you stop in Custer state Park we thought we found a good and easy hike to take with the dogs, but it turned out to really just be a bike/ped path near the road that was just no fun so we turned around and started out for our other objectives.
First up the Wildlife Loop which offered up a herd of Bison, prairie dogs, and some very friendly donkeys that were left over from the mining days. Shockingly the dogs had no issue with donkeys sticking their heads into the van and looking for food Bison on the other hand still not their friends (even from a distance). We were on the Loop in the afternoon so most of the animals were not hanging out, but we saw our fair share and the drive was slow and pretty and that is all we really wanted.
Second we headed to the Needles a drive that has warnings on tunnel size. After double checking the height and width we headed on to Needle drive and were ready to be amazed (as per the reviews on Google). First stop was a place called Hole In The Wall, which we had to stop out because I am so fond of hole in the wall places. In reality it is a hole in the rock, really cool but does not serve beer (I am so funny). Thankfully Needles road wasn’t too crowded and we had plenty of time for me to take pictures are we went through the first (the bigger one) of two tunnels. Luna did great and on we went, the road got narrow, the traffic got a bit more volume. But we squeaked through Needle Tunnel and the Old Man got to climb on some serious rocks.
With the gang waiting for us back at the homestead we headed back to our host’s house and prepared for some yummy food and a movie or two.
The Old Man has been looking forward to the Solar Eclipse forever or at least what seems like forever. He wanted to make plans to go somewhere in the totality line long before we even decided to hit the road. That said he was prepared. We paid for a parking spot in downtown Casper WY so we could sit near Luna have a few beers and watch the lights go out. It didn’t hurt that Casper was having an Eclipse Festival at the same time so we figured that would add to the excitement. Funny thing about places expecting big crowds sometimes things work out not quite how you expected. Casper was expected to get over double their population in visitors for the weekend. For good or bad that did not happen, but a lot of the smaller towns around it were packed. So while we paid a premium price for our spot we didn’t have to fight any crowds and the Old Man had peace of mind that we were guaranteed a spot to watch the eclipse.
I will admit that while not as excited about this whole eclipse thing, I am now glad that the Old Man made us find a place in the totality, all the struggle and back tracking was totally worth it. That was one of the coolest things I have seen. What wasn’t cool was the traffic after the blessed event. Ten and half hours to go 160 miles. What made that worse was the fact that after some soul searching and schedule checking we realized that we were not able to go Jackson WY and hang out in YellowStone or swing by the Grand Tetons before we had to start making our way back east to Wisconsin for some Packers Football.
Van life is nothing but exciting and while the Old Man loves to plan sometimes van life likes to laugh in his face. Because of work the Old Man needed a co-working space, no problem Jackson WY has a great one, sadly it didn’t open till 9am and the Old man needed to be set up and ready to go by 8am for his podcast. Which is why we headed on into Cheyenne, WY so that he could work. We tried hard to justify driving 8-9 hours back into Yellowstone, but we just couldn’t and after kicking ourselves for not doing Yellowstone while in Bozeman, MT we plotted a new route to get us to Wisconsin.
We were super bummed about missing two of the must dos on our Riskypsy trip list, Cheyenne turned out to be a great little city and we really enjoyed our time there. It seems our love of capital cities is still going strong.
Next up we make our way to Wisconsin the long way around and the Old Man finally gets to watch Packer’s football in Lambeau Field.