The key to interesting travel is to be flexible. Sometimes where you go and what you do is not what you planned. And, sometimes it is better and the experience is more enriching.

Today, the plan was to ride through the Badlands, tour the Black Hills and make my way to Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Well, some of those things happened… some.

Overnight, there was rain I mostly missed due to earplugs. When I took my phone off of Airplane Mode I got an alert from my weather app that there were severe thunderstorms in the area. Things were mostly dry in the campground so I snacked on granola bars and packed up. There weren’t a lot of non -Interstate options so I jumped on I-80 (80mph!). Traveling along an interstate is a portal into Americana. Billboards promoting the world’s largest reptile collection, a 6000 pound prairie dog and, of course, Wall Drug. Entertaining, but not my cup of tea.

A strong tailwind made it seem like 55mph. Wheee! My cutoff point was the exit for the Badlands. At the top of the ramp was a sign for The Minuteman museum. What?? How did I miss that last year?

As someone who grew up in the Cold War and remembers the “duck and cover” training we had in elementary school where wet were drilled in how to hide under our desks in a nuclear attack. The museum had film, documents and artifacts from the Minuteman missile silos and the entire nuclear build-up from MAD to START. Fascinating and chilling.

Memo authorizing the use of the “special bomb”.

That put me a little behind schedule, and I wasn’t sad in the least.

Heading towards the Badlands, you can’t make this up, in the park with the 6000 pound prairie dog was this:

Once I flashed my Senior Pass and entered the Badlands, the weather was catching up to me. I elected to skip the scenic drive which takes you back to I-80 and Wall Drug. Not a hard call.

Bye bye Badlands.

Back on the backroads to Keystone and Mount Rushmore, bad weather in my rear -view mirror.

I thought a stop to see the presidents would be fun but the $10 parking fee turned me off, and around, for a spin through the curvy roads of the Black Hills and on towards Hot Springs. I checked my weather app during the mandatory afternoon ice cream stop. Oh oh, thunderstorms between me and Scottsbluff. I thought I just might split the storms which were displaying impressive cloud to ground lightning, but it didn’t work out.

Nebraska back roads, storms loomimg.

I got as far as Crawford and got a $55 room as the rain, wind and lightning closed in. Yes, it’s me, a dozen flies and an Irish dance troop in the room above me… The nicest thing you can say is that next Monday the sun will be completely blocked in Crawford and the flies will be confused.

The net result is that I’m 80 miles short of my plan but had an extraordinary day. To top it off, I turned on the tv in the room and there was a public broadcasting show on the atomic bomb which tied in with the chance museum visit. Nice how things work out…

Tomorrow’s plan (subject to change) is to ride south and through Rocky Mountain National Park to Steamboat Springs. Let’s see how that works out.


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