Michael Totten

From Idaho to Minnesota

Don’t try driving through Yellowstone National Park on the way to somewhere else, not even on a Tuesday. It can’t be done. I don’t even want to think about how many hours that “little” detour took me and Sean yesterday. The idea was to take a quick spin through the park on our way to Rapid City, South Dakota from Idaho Falls. But by 5:00 in the evening we were only 200 miles from where we started at 7:00 that morning. It was two hours before dark and we had 500 miles to go.
Our schedule was utterly shot. There was no hope of getting anywhere near South Dakota, let alone to Rapid City and the Badlands, before dark. So we just decided to heck with the plan. We would drive until we got tired and see how far we could get. We made it all the way to Minneapolis. (Not before dark, though.)
I don’t remember South Dakota. We blew through it on autopilot and cruise-control. Granted, it was dark for much of the way, but still. South Dakota, like Nebraska, is an enormous chore state. It seems to go on forever and ever and ever and there is almost no visual evidence of progress. How could Sean and I be so mentally zonked that we could forget that experience? We made that trip today. I still shudder at the memory of driving on I-80 across Nebraska ten years ago.
Anyway, I have some photo evidence of Eastern Idaho and Wyoming for you. I did snap one picture of South Dakota in an apparently brief moment of lucidity and awareness.
We’re in Minneapolis now. Tomorrow we have to leave, but I don’t want to.

Morning mist rises out of a valley in Eastern Idaho.
The most beautiful place in Idaho — Swan Valley.
The Grand Tetons form the western wall of breathtaking Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Wyoming is almost totally empty of people. There is no urban sprawl here.
You can’t speed through Wyoming the way you can South Dakota.
We paid money to get into Yellowstone, but the free scenery was best.
The sky in South Dakota is bigger and more open than here in Northern Wyoming, but this scenery frames it better.
The Missouri River winds through South Dakota.