There is no getting around it: driving from Maryland to Wyoming is a long haul. I planned our vacation road trip so that we would have two days to travel from College Park, Maryland (just outside of Washington DC) to Rapid City, South Dakota. The plan was to leave very early Friday morning and pretty much drive all day Friday and Saturday.
Friday was pretty uneventful as far as driving goes. We took I-270 to I-70 and swung up into Pennsylvania and onto the turnpike. Heading towards Ohio, we continued on the toll road I-80, which cost a bit of money but was actually a good drive. Maybe we just got lucky with the traffic, but we ended up just past Chicago by 9:30 p.m. and stayed the night in Joliet. Did you know there is a place called Romeoville in Illinois? It isn’t far from Joliet. Someone had a sense of humor when they named those towns; I bet there is a story hidden there.
Saturday was more driving. We encountered one traffic jam caused by an overturned truck. I don’t know what happened but the wreckage was already on the tow truck when we got by and it wasn’t a pretty sight; the truck’s cab was entirely crushed and the trailer was still overturned in the ditch. It’s pretty sobering to see something like that, but it happens and there isn’t anything you can do except watch your own driving and try to avoid causing another accident.
We almost made it to Rapid City in two days, but we left a couple of hours later on Friday than I had planned and by Saturday evening we were just over two hours shy of Rapid City. Neither of us wanted to drive anymore, and so we found a motel, gobbled down sandwiches, and fell asleep. Even with two drivers and multiple breaks for coffee, chocolate, and gas, you end up feeling cramped and sore from being in the car for 12-14 hours.
Sunday was to be a tour of Mount Rushmore and then on to Wyoming, but instead we ended up visiting the famous Wall Drugs in Wall, South Dakota. We had breakfast, gawked at the souvenirs, bought a couple of things, ate ice cream (yes, right after breakfast!) and generally did tourist things. Then we started driving towards Rapid City and detoured into the Badlands. We decided not to rush and save Mount Rushmore for Monday morning.