Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Niagara Falls, NY to Rapid City, SD

The great westward trek has progressed. From Amherst, Massachusetts we had gone straight east across NY to Niagara Falls. We headed southwest from Niagara along Lake Erie passing briefly through Pennsylvania and then into Ohio. It started raining quite seriously the night we spent outside of Cleveland due to a cold front from the north. We passed through Indiana passing up the RV Hall of Fame, before heading into Illinois. There are some very unusual museums in the midwest. The rain continued to get worse as the moisture from Hurricane Ike began to run into the cold front. We spent the night just west of Chicago and in the morning the streets were full of water. The rain continued to get worse and flooding had started in Chicago. We just kept heading west and soon were in Wisconsin. The Mississippi River separates Wisconsin from Minnesota and is fairly large, but not the gargantuan river we saw at Chester, Illinois. In Minnesota the hardwood forestland finally began to open up into farmland. As we listened to the radio we realized we had gotten out of Illinois in the nick of time before serious winds and flooding due to Ike occurred. We passed through southern Minnesota into South Dakota in a day and knew we were in the west again. The air was drier and the landscape more like Kansas and eastern Colorado and there were signs for cowboy attractions. After spending the night in Sioux Falls, our westward path brought us to the Missouri River at the point where Lewis and Clark had crossed it.

This was a coincidence in the trip since we had crossed the Mississippi on the bikes at Chester, Illinois another spot where Lewis and Clark had passed on their journey of exploration. Our next destination was the Badlands in western South Dakota.

The Badlands have been the richest source of mammalian fossils from around 25 million years ago. After the inland seas dried up and became grasslands, many species of mammals including ancestors of the horse, rhinoceros, bison, wolf, pig, and mountain lion lived on these plains. The animals were killed or covered by layers of ash and sediment from various volcanic events and uncovered during the erosion of the Badlands in the last million years.

It is a very unique landscape that is surrounded by plains. At one of the overlooks, we looked back and saw our bikes from this angle.

It made us feel nostalgic for the slower pace we had on the trip east. During the last 5 days we had passed through 6 states without getting a good feel for the people, places or landscapes in those states. Travel by bicycle is so intimate and rewarding that we know it will be a part of our future for many years to come.


Anonymous said...

Your bikes look like they are feeling a little nostalgic too. They must feel left out after being so important. At least they have a good view from where they are perched. I liked your photos of Niagara Falls. In other photos I have seen the falls just look short and wide and I always wondered what the big deal was but yours are spectacular.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Riesa, the falls are spectacular! So much water! So powerful!