May 3 - Montana, South Dakota

After going to bed so late, 430a, we slept until 915a. Not a great amount, and we certainly felt the burn.

To make matters worse, the coffee maker in the room was on the fritz, so there wasn’t enough coffee to go around.

Doom.

On the plus side, we found a beautiful day outside. Crisp air and blue skies. Large trees and clear streams.

Beautiful day

Beautiful day

We piled in and were driving out of the parking lot by 10a. Our first stop came 1.5 minutes in. 

Those golden arches!

Those golden arches!

Coffee, juice, water, egg mcmuffin, sausage mcgriddle, sausage-egg-cheese biscuit, hash browns. An All-American-Road-Trip-Hall-of-Fame breakfast.

We set off east again, picking up I-90 towards Bozeman, Montana.

Great scenery in Montana

Great scenery in Montana

Before he broke his neck in the dirt bike accident, Taylor was heavily involved in the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) program. During his 5-year degree program for Mechanical Engineering, he became fantastically good friends with the core group of people that shepherded the program to success.

One of those people is named Matt Smith. Matt works for Cummins Diesel in Jamestown, NY. His parents live in Bozeman, Montana, right off I-90. The RIT FSAE group was so close that the students and the parents were all friends.

When Matt Smith’s dad, Bruce, heard about our One Lap adventure, he contacted me to both wish us good fortune, and, extend an invitation to visit them at their home, if it fit within our plans.

Originally we were concerned that we would hit Bozeman in the middle of the night, but with our late start out of Seattle, we didn’t get anywhere close. On the plus side, it meant that we would be in Bozeman right at lunch time. We synched up with Bruce and he hosted us for a delicious burger cookout on their beautiful back deck.

So much better than gas station corn dogs...

So much better than gas station corn dogs...

Dad enjoying the fresh air.

Dad enjoying the fresh air.

It was such a treat to sit out back in the sun, talking cars, eating fresh grilled burgers with a stunning vista view of the Gallatin Mountains. It was an extra bonus that Bruce recognized our time plight and had the burgers all cooked and ready to eat when we arrived. Thanks again, Bruce!

Sad that we couldn't stay longer.

Sad that we couldn't stay longer.

Dad drove us out of Bozeman about half an hour then stopped for gas. Taylor was up for a driving stint, so he loaded into the driver’s seat.

Taylor sliding in to the driver's seat.

Taylor sliding in to the driver's seat.

Dad had purchased a cup of coffee at the gas station. Upon removing it from the cup holder for his first sip as we were headed down the highway, he found the cup to have a hole in the bottom. So he burned himself with leaking hot coffee and had to toss the liquid out the window amidst a stream of elegant prose.

Another stop for fuel and some replacement coffee. Back on the road with Taylor at the wheel.

He cranked out a couple hours while we planned our stop for the night somewhere in the middle of South Dakota. We didn’t feel like a total repeat of last night, but at the same time, stopping too early in Rapid City would leave a 1,000 mile day for us tomorrow. Too far.

We settled on a Best Western in a town called Murdo, just inside the Central Time Zone. So we’d lose an hour again, unfortunately.

With the rest of the day planned out, we stopped for dinner around 7p in Sheridan, WY. The original plan was Jimmy John’s, but I noticed a Qdoba in the same parking lot. Craving some Mexican food, I campaigned the team. Success!

We had a good meal at Qdoba, where I finished uploading the blog post for Tuesday.

Long dinner stop while I used Qdoba's wi-fi to upload

Long dinner stop while I used Qdoba's wi-fi to upload

A stop for gas, a quick adjustment of the Bulldog LED spot lights, and we were off into the night. It was 8p.

Feeling energized and inspired, Dad ripped off a monster driving leg, landing us at a Pilot Travel Center just outside of Rapid City at 11p.

I hopped in the driver’s seat to finish off the day. All was well until we came over a rise in the road going 80mph (the speed limit) and there was a dead deer sprawled across our entire lane.

“Oh, darn it.”- Taylor and I at the same time.

There was no way around it, so I stayed the course and we plowed straight into it. 

WHAM!

It made a terrible noise that woke Dad up- “WHAT WAS THAT?!”

We were less than 15 miles away from the hotel, so we nervously continued on. The only symptom we could see so far was the gas gauge quit working. Not great.

We lost another hour (now in the Central Time Zone) and arrived at the motel at 240a.

Best Western in Murdo, SD

Best Western in Murdo, SD

I grabbed a flashlight before exiting the car to survey the damage.

No damage to the front bumper. Good.

We walked to the back of the car to find the front of the trailer covered in blood, meat, and fur. It was pretty graphic.

The back of the Volvo had blood spatter and fur.

Dad wiping meat out of the trailer chains and wiring.

Dad wiping meat out of the trailer chains and wiring.

I nervously got down on the ground to survey the underside of the car.

The smell was what really got you. Chunks of meat and fur pressed up against the exhaust pipes. It looked like a thin cross brace got a little bent and scooped up a bunch of organic matter. Very grim. 

Unable to find any bad damage (other than the gas gauge being inoperable), we declared ourselves fully grossed out and headed to the room.

A standard bed-time procedure followed and we were asleep by 330a.

A long day lay ahead on Thursday- 865 miles to the One Lap start in South Bend, Indiana.