Starting Thursday Sept 20, Eric and I headed cross country to Utah. He was gracious enough to accompany me on the trip and help drive the ~2500 miles to Salt Lake City. Rather than taking I-80 all the way out and traveling through Iowa and Nebraska, we elected to do two long days of driving through Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. This would allow us to visit Badlands National Park and Devil’s Tower. I’ll just bullet point out some highlights.
- Depart New Haven, CT 8:50am
- Takes 90 minutes to go 60 miles in Connecticut because of traffic in Stratford thru Stamford. Bad start to a long road trip.
- Ohio looks much the same as Iowa and Nebraska, though slightly more trees. No need to visit the state again.
- 93 octane gas is $4.00/gal
- Arrive Montpelier, OH 8:30pm
- 699 miles
- Eric has enormous breakfast: three eggs, homefries with peppers and onions, salsa, and three pancakes, for $8.
- Parking spaces are similarly large at the motel.
- Depart Montpelier, SD 9:00am
- Chicago around lunchtime has heinous traffic, last traffic which we hit for the duration of the trip.
- 93 Octane is $4.49/gal in Chicago.
- Wisconsin and Minnesota are more corn fields, though some trees. Slightly better than Nebraska.
- Tons of wind turbines in Minnesota which are awesome.
- Awesome BBQ at Famous Dave’s.
- Arrive Sioux Falls, SD 8:15pm
- 771 miles
- Depart Sioux Falls, SD 8:45am
- South Dakota has more corn, less trees.
- Only thing to keep from falling asleep at the wheel is the billboards every .1 mile. Every quarter of a mile is a Wall Drug sign. I’m not sure when we first started seeing them but it is easily 150 miles out from the store.
- We have Sioux City sarsaparilla at the Minuteman Missile Monument.
- Find out that National Park Service guy working the Monument, while very helpful, has zero radar for sarcasm when I tell him I’m waiting breathlessly to visit to Wall Drug and I’m glad we won’t miss it by detouring into the Badlands. His response, “Where you boys from?” I say “Connecticut.” To which he replies, “There must not be much there.”
- Find 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 92 octane gas between the three gas stations near the Monument.
- Visit Badlands National Park. Amazing scenery.
- Visit Minuteman Missile Silo D-9.
- VISIT WALL DRUG! Actually it isn’t that great. Good ice cream though.
- Visit Deadwood, SD. Pretty neat little location actually. Would be worth seeing again.
- Arrive Devil’s Tower National Monument 9:00pm
- 525 miles
- Wake up in awesome campground 3/4 mile from Devil’s Tower. Leaves are changing to bright yellow.
- Realize we are camping and have no food other than junk food snacks for breakfast. I have Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
- Hike around Devil’s Tower. First loop is farther away. Second is nearer the base. Close enough to see climbers and retirees commenting how crazy they are as the observe through binoculars.
- Scramble to the base of the Tower for breakfast. Need to come back to climb, amazing looking cracks.
- Depart Devil’s Tower 12:00pm
- Wyoming takes the surprise worst state to drive across honors. There are no cornfields, it is so dry there is only grass and ranching. Not many cows either. Zero trees.
- Buy iPhone 5 in Gillette, WY.
- Have dinner at sweet dinner in Salt Lake City.
- Arrive Salt Lake City 9:30pm
- 639 miles
- 45 hours on the road including food and bathroom stops.
- 2634 miles
- 25.5 mpg average, as high as 27.8 and as low as 22.1.
- $477.62 spent on fuel.
- See the Road Trip gallery for all the main meals that I ate. No snacks included.