Mile 1,075



The Wind River Canyon road

No oversleeping this time, folks. We were on the road in a timely fashion, and started off with another quick spray-down at a local car wash. There was still some ice on the car from Teton Pass…nothing some pressurized water couldn’t take care of.

We set out on US 26 North of town, avoiding the Casper route as per a local Rivertonian’s advice. Good advice. Within an hour, we found ourselves in the Wind River canyon. The whole thing stretches for 12 miles, and the canyon walls reached as high as 2000 feet high from the canyon floor, where the road, WY Rt. 20 is. It was simply fantastic. Who knew there were so many gorges and canyons throughout the West? It’s not just that one in Arizona. Check out more facts at the Northwest College web site.

Mile 1,125

Powder Pass

The Little Car That Could

Bighorn Mountain Powder Pass road

Mattski’s car has got some heart. After snaking through the Wind River canyon, we assaulted the Powder River Pass.

This was the highest pass we did with Mattski’s car, topping out at an elevation of 9,666 feet - the highest point on Highway 16 in Bighorn National Forest! The Camry did pretty well, though it did give off some interesting smells. Kind of a cross between burnt transmission fluid and plastic melting.

The pass was, as you can expect, beautiful. There were switchbacks and steep grades, and at one point we looked at each other and said, “How long does this thing go up?”

Starting at the bottom of the pass, the ground was dry, reddish and a little barren. As we climbed up, pine trees rimmed the sides of the roads and snow started to appear on the ground. Being a little windy in the pass, snow was blown across the road in several locations and we ended up getting ice on the car again, though not as much as yesterday.

At the top of the summit, we stopped to take a few pictures and realized the air was a little thinner than we were used to. Mattski wasn’t enjoying the thin air and yawned a bunch, while I felt myself breathing a little heavier as I’d run out of the car to take pictures and then hop back in.

As we descended the ground dried up again, the trees started to disappear and the desolation started to return to the land. As we turned onto I-90 on our way to Gillette and then Devil’s Tower, we noticed very few other cars on the road. At times we would drive for 15 minutes or so before even seeing a tree.

Mile 1,210

Devil's Tower

Close Encounter

Mattski and I didn’t know what to think about Devil’s Tower National Monument as we drove toward it. You don’t really see it until you turn a corner in the road, and you’re driving for 40 miles or so off the Interstate before it appears.

Geologists estimate that approximately 60 million years ago molten magma forced it's way up through sedimentary rocks and then cooled underground. As the magma cooled it formed igneous rock which fractured into the basalt columns we see exposed today. Sixty-million years of erosion gradually wore away the softer stone and top soil that surrounded this underground formation, until the 867 feet tall stone monolith was exposed in the beauty we see today.

Devil's Tower National Monument was the first National Monument in the United States established in 1906 and the first National Monument created using the powers of the Federal Antiquities Act. Teddy Roosevelt was the President who established it. National Monuments are usually established by Presidential Proclamations, while National Parks take an act of Congress.

Both Mattski and I agreed that this was a great stop. The National Park Service did a great job in the presentation of this to the public. You approach the tower in a slow circular drive through ponderosa pines around the base and park very close to it. It has walking paths around it and different areas to view it. It was incredibly serene and peaceful.

Mile 1,480


Mount Tourist Extortion

Mount Rushmore

Well, after Wyoming, South Dakota has a tough act to beat! I’d heard good things about the Black Hills, so we detoured down US 385 enroute to Mount Rushmore. They were nice, but I felt like I was in central Pennsylvania pretty much the whole time – this includes the dodging of 174 deer…they’re all over!

As we approached Mt. Rushmore, the scenery became a bit more interesting. When we got close to the valley of the Presidents, it dawned on me that the whole thing was a lot smaller than I expected. When we got close, Berty and I both yelled at the same time, “$10!?” Yep, they charge $10 just to park in the middle of nowhere so you can go see some carving in rock. This place is tourist trap central! Needless to say, we bolted the premises after snapping a few money shots.

After an easy drive through Rapid City, SD, we ended our day in Wall, SD – strategically positioned for an entrance into Badlands Nat’l Park tomorrow. Let the long day begin…Wisconsin, here we come!


There Are More Photos

Head on over to the Photos section to see 37 Day Three photos.


507 Miles

Riverton, WY, to Wall, SD

Map of route from Riverton, WY, to Wall, SD
  • THE END. We arrive in Sterling at 4:33 pm. Total trip time: 5 days, 11 hours, 33 minutes, and 27 seconds.
  • Day Six – 4:08 pm, We enter Virginia.
  • Day Six – 3:21 pm, We enter Maryland.
  • Day Six – 2:00 pm, We cross the Susquehanna River. We plan on being done in 2 hours.
  • Day Six – 11:45 am, Lunch time at Baby's with Mattski's buddy Brandon.
  • Day Six – 10:34 am, We arrive at Mattski's alma mater: We Are…Penn State.
  • Day Six – 9:30 am, We cross the highest point on I-80 east of the Mississippi. Elevation: 2,250 feet. Big whoop.
  • Day Six – 9:26 am, We see signs: “Buckle Up Next Million Miles.”
  • Day Six – 9:20 am, Entering Chesapeake Bay Watershed in PA.
  • Day Six – 7:36 am, The early morning has impaired the judgment of the Geeks and they decide to play the best of Hall and Oates.
  • Day SIX! – 7:20 am, We get an early start on the day and are off on the final leg of our trip.
  • Day Five – 7:58 pm, The Geeks call it a night and stop in Youngstown, OH.
  • Day Five – 4:15 pm, We enter the fourth state for the day, Ohio. We are now on EDT.
  • Day Five – 12:20 pm, We enter Indiana with very little fanfare. Interesting smell…can't quite place it.
  • Day Five – 12:05 pm, We drive through Chicago on I-90. Traffic not that bad. Mattski's upset with the signage.

To see all of the Status Reports from the trip, head on over to the Two Geeks Twitter page.