Duct Tape To The Rescue
Trip Start Aug 17, 2008
23Trip End Oct 2008
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Once you get off the interstate, this part of the country is pretty empty. Growing up and living in and around cities or on the coasts your whole life, you're not really used to the concept that there might be 50-mile stretches of major highway with nothing else around. On the east coast in particular, there's basically one vast conurbanation from Boston on down to at least the Carolinas. You can't drive more than 10 or 15 miles without passing through at least one fairly major town.
The lack of major human settlements here brings the landscape itself to the fore, and there's no denying it's beautiful. Rolling hills, sparsely scattered stands of trees, and loads of sky. The weather today was hot and clear, with scattered cotton-candy clouds dotted across the azure dome of the sky - perfect weather for driving really really fast with the windows down and the stereo way up. Clearly the SD state legislators have sensed that this confluence of landscape and weather result in the need for speed, and have accommodated by setting the speed limit at 75 on most roads.
Of course, when you're tooling along at 70+ and an oncoming semi throws up a couple of rocks at you, it does tend to make the impact slightly more spectacular. The one that struck the front grille managed to miss the radiator but did somehow completely disable the condenser for my air conditioner. I didn't notice this until a few minutes after I stopped though, because I was too busy picking bits of shattered safety glass from my hair and beard from the impact in the upper right corner of the windshield.
I got out of the car to do a walkaround inspection for other damage, and luckily there was none that I could see; just the jaunty plume of white steam as my freon supply vented to the atmosphere.
Once I verified that there was no other obvious damage, I decided to give Pipestone a miss and turn back towards the interstate where hopefully I would find some cell coverage to report the accident to Geico. The 10-mile drive back to the nearest town confirmed that the radiator seemed to be fine and my engine temp was OK, so we set up an inspection in Sioux Falls, which was still about an hour's drive away.
The friendly gentleman at Marv's Body Shop confirmed that there was no other damage, but that the repairs would take the better part of a week and cost about $700. Since the windshield damage was not all the way through (the inner plastic layer is still intact and will stop wind and rain) and I don't actually need the air conditioning, there's no real need to actually fix anything... plus my deductible is $500, so... no.
With that little episode settled, I drove on to the campground... sort of. Google maps apparently thought the address for this site was about 30 miles north of where it actually is, and I didn't think to compare the guidebook version of the directions with the web-based one until I was about half a mile from where Google thought I should be and I realized I was in the middle of a corn field. All the same, it was actually a really nice drive and only cost me about an hour.
When I got to the campsite I was again somewhat disappointed with the surroundings. This park is also really close to the interstate, but there is a little bit more in the way of hills and trees and such to block the noise, so it's an altogether more pleasant proposition than the Winona one from yesterday. Plus, the evening was promising to be clear and cool, and I really wanted to get one night in this ideal sleeping-out weather as soon as possible.
There's very little isolation between the tent sites - there are just a few strategically placed 10-15 foot high shade trees between each site. But the neighbors are friendly. It should be a pretty pleasant few days here and then on Monday I head out to the badlands. In the meantime, I now have a use for the duct tape I brought with me. Duct tape fixes everything.