SF to Chicago Road Trip Day 9 | South Dakota and Badlands

Jonah Fleishhacker, 17 September 2020

Day 9: 252 mi
Day 9: 252 mi


By this point, Max and I were getting a bit fed up with living on the road, and starting to lose patience for states in which nobody practiced COVID precautions. We had to bail from one restaurant in Wyoming because right as we entered to order takeout, a maskless man dining indoors coughed loudly all over the unmasked waitress. When we ran out of food, we had to stop by a grocery store in South Dakota, and we were the only people in the entire supermarket wearing masks, including staff. Wyoming/South Dakota were by far the worst states in terms of people taking precautions–and of course suffered tragic outbreaks a few months later as the exponential growth really kicked in–but this really soured our experience in those states. Believe me, the Needles in South Dakota are great, and I would love to go back and climb/hike there some day, but after all we had already seen, and combined with our fatigue/annoyance in the lack of precautions, it just made it difficult to fully appreciate.

We did see some great sights though, so enjoy some photos! Including one of my favorites from the whole trip, a shot I got of a Buffalo just outside the car on the road.

We also attempted to go climbing at a random spot in SD I found on Mountain Project. Was pretty stunning, but the climb descriptions were really weak and the bolts were sketchy, so we opted to skip it.

Once we got to the Badlands, we found a pretty cool camping area right outside the park right along the rim. Also ate a delicious final dinner of rice, beans and Spam.

Since our final day was just a quick drive through the Badlands and then a long haul home, I won’t bother making a blog post for it. Here’s our final selfie of the trip.

Can't even give one last smile, Max?
Can’t even give one last smile, Max?

To wrap up, this road trip was definitely one of the highlights of my year. It felt good to get a bit of traveling in, to the safest degree possible, and to have some good bonding with Max after a long summer of not seeing each other. It was sad seeing the lack of proper public health communication play out in some of the areas we visited, but also eye opening seeing this stark urban-rural, blue-red divide. I also gained new insights into the geography and geology of the west.

I wish everyone could experience a cross-country road trip like this, or at least a comprehensive road trip of the western states, as it really helped me appreciate and understand the natural and cultural foundations of our home.

day 10: 850 miles
day 10: 850 miles