May 14 - South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana

We got up reasonably early at the Hampton Inn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A full day of driving lay ahead. Our goal was to make it 800 miles to have dinner with the Smiths in Bozeman, Montana.

Not too much to report for the majority of this transit day. Drive, gas, food, drive, gas, food, etc.

Still loving the breakfast buffet life.

Still loving the breakfast buffet life.

Taylor volunteered for the first shift.

Taylor volunteered for the first shift.

Crossing the Missouri River in South Dakota.

Crossing the Missouri River in South Dakota.

At this point, we were getting some complaints from the Volvo that a brake pressure sensor was malfunctioning. No problem.

Well, except the cruise control would quit working. The alert would go off and we would pull over at a rest area to stop, turn the car off, turn the car on, then resume with cruise control working again.

Then we'd do it again.

Then we'd do it again.

Wildly enjoying the cruise control, which was working at this particular moment.

Wildly enjoying the cruise control, which was working at this particular moment.

Gas stop in South Dakota. 

Gas stop in South Dakota. 

Gas stop in Wyoming.

Gas stop in Wyoming.

We paired a lunch stop with a gas stop in Wyoming. It was a total fiasco. Dad and I got some fish from a Long John Silver / A&W combo restaurant. It sounds so stupid now. Why would we do that? It wasn't particularly edible. Worst meal of the trip, right here folks.

Taylor got a bacon cheeseburger with an extra large side of gloating.

**Shudder**

**Shudder**

Gas stop right after lunch, before hitting the road.

Gas stop right after lunch, before hitting the road.

Once we turned into Wyoming and Montana, the scenery became really nice. I've included some shots here for posterity.

Giant blades for wind turbines being transported on a train.

Giant blades for wind turbines being transported on a train.

As we gained elevation, over 5,000 feet as we crossed Montana, the coolant sensor in the Volvo started complaining about low coolant. Not a great sign, but once we checked, it wasn't really low at all.

We topped it up anyhow, just for good measure.

Gas / coolant stop in Montana.

Gas / coolant stop in Montana.

Cruising into Bozeman, MT.

Cruising into Bozeman, MT.

As we traversed the country, another one of Taylor's best friends from the SAE racing team in college, Tyler, was in the midst of his own (much longer and much more relaxed) monster road trip. Tyler and his girlfriend, Liz, had quit their jobs, ended the lease on their apartment, bought a van, converted it into living/driving quarters, and set out on a months-long journey criss-crossing the U.S., visiting friends and landmarks across the country. In fact, I'd had a really nice dinner with them as they passed through Texas in early March!

Tyler and Liz had been at RIT in Rochester, NY on May 6 for the introduction (or, "unveiling") of the RIT Racing Formula SAE race car completed during the '16-'17 academic year. Following the unveiling, they were meandering their way towards Seattle to see, amongst other friends, Taylor. Maybe you can see where this is going...

Taylor was texting with Liz early in the morning and by lunch time it was becoming clear that, given our relative travel vectors and barring any unforeseen stoppages, we would be in Bozeman around the same time! The plan was on for a full dinner party! Liz even decided it would be fun to keep the plan a surprise for Tyler.

Having traveled 6,000 miles in the meantime, we made it back at the Smith's. We arrived first, and parked on the other side of the road, facing the opposite direction from our first visit. Symbolism and all that.

I really like this picture for some reason.

I really like this picture for some reason.

Tyler and Liz arrived to great fanfare and excitement- we cracked open some cold ones and enjoyed each other's company. Tyler was only mildly surprised due to some strange behavior from Liz as she tried to stall for time, waiting for us to catch up on the road.

Tyler, Bruce, Dad, and Taylor.

Tyler, Bruce, Dad, and Taylor.

I recorded a bunch of video- should be edited and ready by 2025.

I recorded a bunch of video- should be edited and ready by 2025.

Bruce and Jeanne, our illustrious hosts for the evening, provided an outstanding homemade meal of pulled pork and all the fixings. It was the first non-restaurant meal we'd had since the burger cookout the week prior! The food tasted great.

Not a great picture, but I guess I was too busy eating to get a better one.

Not a great picture, but I guess I was too busy eating to get a better one.

After eating and sharing many stories, we went outside to pack up and check out Tyler and Liz's travel van.

Thanks Bruce and Jeanne! The stop was wonderful; we said our goodbyes and hit the road to make Butte, MT for the evening. It was only 85 miles, but we were so exhausted and full, it was a surprisingly miserable drive. We all were wishing we'd just stayed in Bozeman for the night.

Nonetheless, we made it to our hotel for the evening some time after 11pm.

Just (!) 590 miles, about 10 hours, tomorrow to Seattle, and that'll wrap the show. No celebrating yet, though. Don't want to jinx it.