Ahead of us lies the Mid-West and the Great Plains, thousands of miles of open space. We fuel up our car and hit the gas. The journey takes us from the state of Illinois via Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota into Wyoming where we start our “Grand National Parks Tour”. Cruise Control is set to a relaxing 70 mph, the road is dead straight, so Karina and I get into the backseat and watch a movie. Just kidding, every 20k or so a slight left or right turn needs our attention, so one of us better stays behind the wheel. Somewhere in South Dakota our car starts to vibrate heavily and a flapping sound can be heard. So we stop the car to examine the cause of it and find a flat tyre. Not a big deal if you have a spare tyre. Too bad, that Toyotas engineers gave up the spare tyre compartment for the all-wheel drive system. But we are prepared for this and have equipped ourselves with a tyre repair kit. I inject a glue-like slime into the tyre and inflate it with a small compressor. We head back 20 miles to the closest city to exchange the tyre, when literally after 19.5 miles the tyre breaks down completely.
Having solved this small problem, we continue our trip and arrive at the Badlands Nationalpark at dusk. Pretty impressive Wild West scenery lies ahead of us. Even Rattlesnakes are out there somewhere. Reminds me of “Dances with Wolves”.
Next stop is the world famous Mt. Rushmore, portraying George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Just south of it in Custer State Park winds the scenic Needles Highway up and down and through the mountains.
We want to soak up more of the Wild West and make our way to Deadwood. A couple of well known bandits like Wild Bill or Calamity Jane frolicked in this city, got involved in main street shootouts or gambled in the saloons. Eventually, some of them got shot. Other gunslingers like Doc Hollywood or Wyatt Earp have been frequent guests in Deadwood.
Having travelled through American Indian, mainly Sioux territory the last couple of days, we want to honor them by visiting one of their holy places. The Devils Tower Monument is a fascinating lava rock which might be the leftovers of a volcano. As up to today experts are not 100% sure how it was created, the mystical appearance is even intensified.