Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not all traveling is peachy! Bad, bad, Badlands.

After a night in Sahlem, South Dakota at a small RV campsite that had the dirtiest pool I've ever swam in, but bathrooms so clean you wouldn't mind eating cereal out of the toilet, we were off for Piedmont and the Black Hills. Everything started out ok, except that my mother was driving a steady 55 in the 75 mile per hour section of interstate 90. All of the sudden she's conscious of the wind, which is funny to me since I have watched the ass end of the 38 foot monster she's driving swing back and forth on the road like a southern woman's hips after she's had too many grits for a week straight. Even my brother, who is 8, and has never driven a vehicle (well, i did let him steer for a bit in Iowa) has been commenting on how erratic our mother's driving was. Either way... we are experiencing safe mode now, which is kind of worse for us because we are following her in the car and have to watch the traffic behind us come barreling down on us while we go 20 mph under the speed limit.

We make it to the Badlands exit and pull over to discuss logistics. Do we take the Winnebago? Maybe we park it and just take the car. The road is slightly out of the way, but puts us back on 90 a good 70 miles West, which is where we are going anyway. A guy we kept running into at rest stops sees us and tells us to go for it... it would be stupid to double back, and it won't be much more costly in gasoline than driving the highway. We mull it over shortly, look at the maps, and decide to do it.

I'm in the lead this time, since I'm barely two weeks removed from my last visit to the park with Sarah. We stop at a few hikes and scenic overlooks. Mom is a concerned with the hills and expresses to me that the RV feels like its stalling out while going down the steep hills because she's on the brakes hard and not giving it any gas. I tell her to drop it into a lower gear and let the engine do most of the braking, this way she'll have more power to the engine and most likely won't stall out. Everything seems fine. The Badlands of course, are incredible. We had to stop and let a small deer pass. There were big herds of cattle and bison in the distant plains. The weather was perfect. Soon we get to an elevation where there is a prairie dog field. The prairie dogs are out and dancing around on their hind legs. My little brother is oozing with excitement so we slow down to a creeping crawl during this section of the road. Unbeknownst to me, my mother is behind us cursing me out. She's stalling out and afraid of rolling backwards in the RV. I had no idea this was going on until she pulled off an exit a few miles away to close a window that I didn't completely secure that was flapping in the wind. There we were in a fireworks store parking lot in the middle of nowhere with her cursing like a sailor at me about the "fucking window you stupid fucking idiot!". Face red, hot as hell, and screaming she was. I rolled up the window and headed back to the highway.

When we got to Piedmont and settled in, she blew a gasket about the Badlands. "Stop at another fucking overlook you stupid ass! I was stalling out!" I swear I didn't know and how could I? We started arguing. I told her I would just leave. I didn't need the aggravation. "Go home! I don't care. It will be peaceful without you," she said. We were really getting annoyed with one another at this point. Some serious downtime was in much need for both of us. Luckily, mom and John didn't want to go anywhere today, so I took the car for the entire day and explored.... more to come on that!

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