Update from Peever

We are at a gas station in Peever, S.D getting ready to cross into Minnesota. It is 5:06 pm local time.

I promised to tell you about our misadventures from yesterday, so this is what I wrote up while we were driving.

It was dark when we crossed into South Dakota. One of the interesting things about crossing a state line is that the quality of the road one is traveling on changes dramatically. So, as we crossed into South Dakota all the reflectors disappeared, the white line showing the edge of the road disappeared and the color of the road became almost exactly the same as the shoulder. Without my brights on, it was very hard to see the road. I did not feel comfortable traveling more that forty-five mph.

Everytime another car approached, the road beyond them completely vanished. I learned to watch the angle at which they approached to get a guess about what the road would do when I got to it. Occasionally, there would be reflectors by the road, but not where you would expect them. There might be a curve and then three reflectors on the straightaway.

At one point, as a semi approached and the road vanished again, I saw a quick reflection in his lane. I had time to think, “My god, is there a cyclist on this road?”

And then I hit a deer.

A herd of them was standing on the road. What I had seen was the reflection of one of the other deer’s eyes. The one I hit materialized in my headlights as if it had beamed into place. I can only assume that the semi also hit one.

We stopped, confirmed that there was no serious damage to the truck. There wasn’t–one of the advantages of driving something so large, I guess. After this, I slowed down still more as the road got twistier.

We kept trying to call the campground to cancel the reservation, but could get no cell signal. Though it meant that we didn’t get to the campground until after 11:00, we still went for it knowing that if we got behind, that today would be even longer.

Unfortunately, they stop registration at 11:00. So, though we had reservations, we had no idea where we were supposed to be. I finally found a bag with our name on it that contained a map to our site. It was hard to see the site numbers, so we decided that I would sit in the truck while Rob looked for the campsite.

While I was sitting there, someone came out to complain about the noise of the diesel, so I shut it down. Someone else then came up to demand to know what was going on. Though I was now quiet, he wanted me to move the truck away. I figured the smart thing to do would be to take it back to the main parking area and just pack the tent and cats to the campsite. He assured me that the road went straight through.

He was quite wrong. So, while Rob was looking for the campsite, I got stuck at the end of a deadend road. I tried turning the truck around, and hit a rock–no damage, since I was going extremely slowly, but enough to convince me to stop the truck where I was.

We were next to a cabin which had no cars in front of it. There was a large grassy area. At this point I decided to screw finding “our” site and to just camp in the grassy area. I walked back to get Rob and we set up the tent. Of course, since we were at the end of a dead-end road, it was completely dark. The truck was facing away from the grassy area, so there was no way to use the headlights to set up. We worked with the glow cast by the overhead light in the back of the truck. Our nightlight, once we set up the tent, was supplied by the screen of my laptop. Ah, technology.

We got up at five this morning and hit the road. Mt. Rushmore wasn’t open yet, but is clearly visible from the road. I’ve got to say that it’s more impressive from the side than from the front, but there’s no safe way to pull off and take a photo there.

The road since then has been unbelievably straight.

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2 Responses

  1. Evan Nichols

    Yow! Glad to hear there was no serious damage from your deer encounter (well, except for the deer, I’m sure. But better a deer than elk or moose. Apparently moose hair doesn’t reflect much light, so people frequently don’t see them before impact (and nobody wins in a collision with a 1,500-lb ungulate (not to make you paranoid, or anything))).

    I hope you’re thinking of this trip as a series of interesting adventures that make great stories to tell! Because some of these events don’t sound like what is commonly thought of as “fun.” But such is the way with adventures…

  2. Mary Robinette Kowal

    Evan: The story-telling aspect of this is the only thing that holds me together at some points. Well, that and that even when things are a fiasco, Rob is still fun to travel with.