We bundled up LeuC this morning and boogied down the road, continuing our westward travels toward the Pacific Northwest. Our stay at the Big Sioux Recreation Area was short, which will be our mode of operation as we head west. We are pressing forward a bit more aggressively than we normally do because we do not wish to cross the Rockies too late in the year. Our hope is that we can get over the passes before it starts snowing. Last year, our route was impacted in early October with a snow storm dumping about a foot of snow in the mountains. If that happens again this year, we will just have to hunker down until the roads are plowed and any residuals on the roads melt. The thought of driving over icy, curvy roads with steep drops down to the valleys below is not something we wish to experience.
Currently, we are expecting to be in the heart of the Rockies, at Yellowstone National Park, during the last week of September. Once we leave, it will take us 6 days to travel across the Rockies, taking two stops along the way. We will then take 5 days off once we drive to the Columbia Plateau in eastern Washington. We will rest there, exploring the Columbia River and the Ginkgo petrified forest with all of its fossils and petrified trees. Then, finally, we will spend a day traversing the Cascade Mountain Range, arriving in Blaine, Washington, nestled up against the Puget Sound and the Canadian border. My brother, Don, and his wife, Debbie, live there.
Taking another step toward that destination today, we drove about 200 miles, arriving at the Corp of Engineer’s Campground at Fort Thompson, SD. It is a tailrace campground, meaning that it is built on the tailrace of a dam. This is where the water is being released by the dam as the Missouri River races down a channel which is directed by two tails of land that come from the base of the dam. You can see our tailrace campground on this Google Earth photo.
We will just be staying here two nights before driving on to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mount Rushmore is located there, along with the Crazy Horse Monument.