Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 Condo Week pre-trip, days 4 & 5

The day before yesterday, when I had checked into my motel in Valentine, Nebraska, I started the car to drive down to my room, and it made an odd noise. Sounded kind of serious. Yesterday morning, when I started it up again, it made the same noise, only worse. Uh-oh. You know a Jag is the prettiest car you'll ever see broken down by the side of the road, so we Jag owners tend to worry about noises.

I pulled into a gas station nearby to fill it up, and when I started it again, I heard that same noise, even worse.  Okay, I thought, I ain't a-gonna find anybody in Valentine, Nebraska who knows much about Jaguars, so I will just pray nothing breaks until I get to a bigger place.

fields in summer,
Rosebud Indian Reservation
Stopped for breakfast on the Rosebud reservation, and when I re-started the car, there was that noise again, and even worse. Sounded like a loud grinding noise. Stopped almost immediately, though, as it did each time.

Next stop was in Murdo, South Dakota for the Pioneer Auto Museum. An interesting collection of vehicles (along with toys and miscellaneous memorabilia, much like Elmer's Auto Museum in Wisconsin, which I saw a few weeks ago) slowly rotting away in dust and rust.

a '58 Ford hardtop-convertible

'65 Impala, one of my favourite cars

The horse-collar that doomed the car

a truly significant vehicle, the '38 Chrysler Airflow
Look at the condition this thing is kept in.

the first solar-powered vehicle,
poorly kept
I thought I could find someone who might have some idea about my problem at an automotive museum, but no. So I went on, intending to stop at the Minuteman Missile Nat'l Historic Site before heading over to hike in the Badlands, but along the way decided (after hearing the same horrible noise on starting up at the museum) to go on to Wall, a fairly sizeable town that might have an appropriate resource. I stopped at Wall Drugs (which is a sight in itself -- a city block of tourist attractions of all sorts, from western art to playgrounds to, well, a drugstore) and got directions to the one "pretty good" mechanic in town, but when I started the car, it made no odd noise 

At that point I realized the noise I'd been hearing is the noise you hear when you keep the ignition key turned too long after the engine has engaged. 

What a relief! And don't I feel stupid.

So I went in the back entrance to Badlands National Park. Stopped at a few overlooks, then got out at the Castle Trailhead for a short hike of an hour or so. Brought my water in a canteen and my safari hat and my walking stick just for this experience. 

The Castle Trail is 5 miles long. I obviously wasn't going to hike the whole distance, especially since, though it was only about 88 degrees, it felt like 105. I wandered around for about an hour, thinking there surely must be some kind of trail markers out there, but none were visible beyond a single red plastic pole near the start. Eventually I gave up on finding the trail --- it's all open country there, and you can see hundreds of yards in most directions, except where there's a small bluff or outcropping of rock. Headed back to the trail head, and as I came around the last little bluff, I saw a second red trail marker. It is not visible from the first red trail marker, and the ground is so hard and open that there is no indication of the path from one marker to the next.



Badlands National Park

Seems like they ought to do something about that.

Pulled into Rapid, where I had a hotel reservation, around 5:30, except that I'd gained an hour for the time change (I thought the time zone boundary was the state line). Could have gone another 3 or 4 hours, but for that paid reservation.  So no reservation for tonight, but I made it to Great Falls, Montana, after driving Spearfish Canyon, and
Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
a detour to Red Lodge and Absarokee (to get a couple of new counties in southeastern Montana) and found a motel with no problem. Lucky me.

The air in Montana is thick with smoke from some forest fires somewhere; a couple of people told me they just started this morning and already the smoke has covered half of this huge state.
No idea what this is.It stands next to Hwy 87 in Montana

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