Sunday July 15th
I rested well at the KOA in Buffalo, awaking as the sun rose at 5:15am. I got around, straightening out the inside of the van in preparation for my long drive home to Wisconsin. I was showered and on the road by 6:00am. According to Toots (our Garmin GPS device), my ETA home was 11:15pm. I was pretty shocked to think I might actually be able to get home that evening, so that became my goal as I drove the last couple hundred miles through Wyoming and on into South Dakota. In South Dakota, I did want to stop in Wall to take a look around Wall Drug as well as the Minuteman Missile Silo at the 116 Exit from I90.
The drive across the heartland was long, flat and hot. By 8:15am it was already 85F and when I arrived at Wall Drug at 10:00am it was 94F. It wasn't much longer before it was zooming over 100 degrees! For the rest of the drive until I got to the Minnesota border at 4:00pm, the temperature fluctuated between 100 and 104, with a spike of 106F just before noon. While there were strong winds, they didn't do much to cool things down as they were hot coming from the south. I was so happy to see the sun lower in the sky as I arrived in La Crosse, Wisconsin - our border with Minnesota along the Mississippi River.
There really wasn't much to photograph along the way home. There was a barn quilt that faced I90 that I had seen on my drive the week before, so I did stop on my return through Minnesota to take a photo to send to the Barn Quilt lady who has written a book and is trying to document all of the quilts throughout the United States.
Once in Wisconsin, it seemed real possible to make it home that night. I called David to let him know I was still on schedule to get home by midnight.
The drive through Wisconsin took a little over four hours, and at times I was doubtful that I could stay awake for the entire distance. All that I could think was how it would really suck if I had to stop in Madison (about 90 miles from home) for the night. I did make it, however, thankful to be home to David and Miss Heidi.
For the day, I drove 1095 miles in roughly 16 hours. All totaled, I logged just over 3,800 miles on this most excellent road trip.
I loved Yellowstone National Park and hope to do it again some day. Badlands National Park and Grand Teton National Park were nice additions, but I could do without Custer State Park on any future jaunt across South Dakota. I would also encourage folks to consider the time to stop by the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near Wall, SD as well.
America is a remarkably diverse country with a variety of landscape, environments and wildlife. This trip reminded me of just how fortunate I am to live here, in such close proximity with the flora and fauna that makes the USA unique to so many other places on the planet.