On the advice of another camper, we stopped at the 1880s Western Town just a little way down the interstate, east of the Badlands. Lots of historic buildings that have been saved and moved to the "town", as well as a lot of the props and costumes from the movie, "Dances With Wolves", which had been filmed nearby.
We were a little sad that we couldn't get close to this awesome sculpture of a skeleton man walking a skeleton dinosaur. But I was pleased that it showed up on the map.
Then we drove for a LONG time. And camped for the night in Atkinson, NE, where there was a lovely sunset.
The next morning, we woke up and wound our way through country roads to get to Ashfall Fossil Beds National Historic Site. It's an active archeological site, with people still working to excavate remains from the ashfall beds. We were very impressed with the conclusions drawn from the bones found in the different areas of the ash--for instance, the rhino bones were found in the deepest part of the ash beds, where they logically would be found wading in life. Or that herbivores were much more likely to have died from diseases associated from lung diseases, because they were actually eating through the ashfall to get to food. Very neat stuff, indeed!
And then we drove for a VERY LONG time. We discovered that there's just not a whole lot to stop an see in Iowa, except for this giant ball of popcorn.
For the last campsite of our ridiculous road trip, I lobbied for Starved Rock State Park along the Illinois River. Starved Rock is only an hour and a bit from where my family lives. And some of them were able to come out and join us at the campsite. My sister, Siobhan, came out our first night there to eat dinner with us and to roast marshmallows over the campfire. The next morning we were joined by my sister Erin and her two youngest, Dylan and Zach, my Mom, and my niece, Tiernen, and her kiddos, Atticus, Imogyn, and Finnian. The weather did not completely cooperate. In fact, it poured down rain, for many parts of the day. But there was lots of laughing and catching up, tasty food, bouncing of babies, and poking at the campfire. It was a lovely day and a great ending for our two months on the road.
And then, we drove home. And showered, loved on a very loud cat, and slept on a king sized bed. It was wonderful.
Up next, the last chapter and summary of the Ridiculous Road Trip #1