Day Two and Three
St. Louis to Omaha to Sioux Falls to Mitchell
Leaving St. Louis, I picked up I-70 west with no particular stopping point. The plan was to drive until I was tired and only stopping when my interest was peaked.
I would love to tell you those first hours were filled with amazing scenery, but that would be a lie. Heading west from one city to the next one in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic looked the same as back home. Bumper to bumper lanes filled with drivers jousting for the quickest path to their own destinations.
A slow rain joined the setting sun as I changed interestates in Kansas City to head north on I-29. An hour out, I pulled over to eat and plot where to sleep for the night. Two hours later in a downtown Omaha hotel parking deck, I managed to squeeze my mid-size SUV between a super sized pick-up truck and a tight row of motorcycles. And that’s all I can tell about Omaha.
Day three started early with clear skies. This day would be a repeat of day two. Drive, take a break, gas up,and drive some more. Although outside Omaha, the scenery did start to change for the better. Crossing into Iowa, long, green fields with large irrigation rigs began to dot the roadside landscape. Traffic also began to thin out while the number of motorcycles sharing the road started to pick up. Sometimes in sets of twos,threes and even ten or more, riders filled the open spaces between the cars and tractor trailers.
Three hours later, I crossed my third state line of the morning. The state of South Dakota welcomed me to Great Faces, Great Places. It was at Sioux Falls, I finally find a place that peaked my interest enough to pull off. There at Falls Park I visited the namesake of the city. This particular Saturday it teemed with locals and tourists playing homage to the flowing stair-stepped waterfalls. With flip flops, I made my way to the water’s edge where a little girl tossed rocks into smooth waters beneath the first set of falls. After a quick toe dip, I introduced myself to her mother who shared they were transplants from Milwaukee now living in Sioux Falls and visited the park often with out of town family and friends. This day they had the grandparents with them.
An hour later, I was back on the road. Five minutes out of Sioux Falls, I switched interstates and directions to I-90 west. As the speed limit jumped from 65 to 80 mph, I felt the adrenal rush as I pushed the gas pedal down to keep up with the traffic. But the rush wasn’t just about the need for speed. It was the realization I was one day away from my first official planned stop in this west bound journey.
At this point, I decided to make it an early day. I wanted to check into a hotel during daylight, wash some clothes and get a good meal. Up to this point, I had only eaten packed sandwiches from my cooler or protein bars, chips and fruit from my food bin.
In Mitchell, I got that meal. Burgers and fries. At the hotel while doing laundry, I met a couple from Vermont who were riding their bikes to the Sturgis Bike Rally. Notice I said bikes. The wife shared this was their fifth rally and she always rode her own bike. There was no trail hauling for them. She said it was a long ride on a bike but so worth it once they got to South Dakota.
Later that night, I pulled back the curtains from my hotel room’s window to look out on to a parking lot crammed with bikes, trucks with haulers, vans, cars and tractor trailers. I couldn’t help but think we were all road warriors and maybe even a little like Lewis and Clark, knowing it was a long haul but the final destination would be so worth it.
Check out my pictures from Falls Park