Here is part 2 of our road trip from 1975, as portrayed in another letter (from October 1975) written to my parents at the time about our cross-country travels, with my buddy David Trainor.
What is amazing is the level of detail In these letters, points which I could only generalize were it not for these letters I wrote at the time – details otherwise lost to the ages.
There is one element of our trip that bears mentioning and that I do clearly recall. At one point along our trip, David decided he would stop smoking. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t smoke, and don’t like cigarette smoke. One would think I would be delighted he would stop smoking. After about 2 days of his withdrawal, I pulled over to a drugstore and bought him a pack of cigarettes – and told him he could withdraw on his own time, but not in a Buick Special, camping in a small tent, going cross-country. I think it was a win-win, all things being equal.
It is probably best that most pictures from this trip have long since been lost, damaged, or placed in an evidence locker by authorities. We were acquitted on most charges.
But there is one picture of David and the girls we met in South Dakota. Of course, I am taking the picture, but these girls were enamored with David. I could have been a puppy with a box of chocolates tied to my collar and they wouldn’t have seen me. Truthfully, we had a great time with them – a fun chance meeting on the road.
Here is the second letter to my parents…
Howdy Folks –
At last writing, I think we were in Illinois (Danville). Well, here is an updating on where we have been.
From Danville, we travelled to St. Louis, and saw the big Archway that they constructed. We were able to go to the top, which gives quite a wide view, being as the land has started to really flatten out on us. Also went for a tour on a river steamboat that David managed to charm us in for nothing. From there we went to the Anheiser-Busch plant in St. Louis and take a tour for a couple of free beers.
After spending some time in St. Louis, we proceeded north to Hannibal, MO where we camped on the Mississippi, ala Mark Twain. The next day we saw Sam Clemens’ house and all that good stuff. From Hannibal we went up to LaCrosse, Wisconsin and went into one of the dorms at Wisconsin State College and showered up. Then we had our first night life of the trip in LaCrosse.
From here, and suffering much from the night before, we travelled through Minnesota. We got through there as fast as possible, because it’s just miles of cornfields and straight roads. We did stop at the homestead of Buffalo Bill Cody, where we got a few pictures.
But coming up was South Dakota which so far has been my favorite state. Our first day in South Dakota, we travelled down and thru the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. Nice country, but we got into some bad weather about now. West of us it was snowing, and as a matter of fact, we went through a couple of snow squalls with an inch or two of snow.
That night we camped just outside of Chamberlain on a hilly, muddy campsite. It was raining a freezing rain and blowing about 40 mph. We were thrilled. After wrestling the tent up in the wind and rain, we finally got a nights sleep.
The next day (Friday) we broke camp early – had a cup of hot coffee, and headed west to the badlands. This is one of the most remarkable areas I’ve ever seen. It’s really impossible to describe. I took a few pictures there, but I know they won’t do justice.
This is also where we met some prairie dogs and some fellow campers. The prairie dogs are like a combination between dogs and rats, but pretty interesting. As we were pulled over at a view of the Badlands, a car from Connecticut pulled up beside us with three girls going cross country. We talked awhile and we camped together at Custer State Park. They cooked meals for us for two days while we were camped in the Black Hills. Unbelievable. Besides the girls, the hills were unbelievably beautiful. We saw Mount Rushmore which was quite amazing. As a matter of fact, where we were camped, we could see Mount Rushmore, and a beautiful view of the Black Hills. We all climbed one of the big rock mountains and just had a gorgeous view. The weather held up terrific.
On our way to the Badlands and Black Hills, though, it snowed about 6-10 inches. Oh, the thoughts that were going through our heads. But after that, though, it was clear weather, except for being a little cool in the daytime, and a LOT cool at night. Today (Sunday) we broke camp and parted from our company.
We headed south to Hot Springs, and got no further, because we lost our brakes and got a leak from our gas tank (we also lost our muffler today). It’s Sunday and we can’t fix it until tomorrow. We’re camped at Angostura Reservoir, but will fix the car tomorrow and head towards Yellowstone.
We have doubts as to whether or not we’ll be able to see it, because reports are they have 26 inches of snow. But Whatever. We’re having a great time, and will write next opportunity. Hope everyone’s well and say hi.
PS: Hope you folks can take the time to take a trip sometime. It’s well worth the time. Must go now, starting to rain. See ya.