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Monday, June 27, 2016

The route to Spearfish

I go out of town frequently for races, always traveling with friends because crewing or waiting for me at the finish line isn't my family's idea of a good time. With the trip to South Dakota for the Motherlode being a longer one and having vacationed there 12 years ago and loved it, I thought this race was the idea way to finally combine race life and family life.

That didn't quite work out as I anticipated. Jeff remained steadfast in his refusal to crew for me, but we did schedule our vacation around the race, leaving around 5 AM the Thursday before Motherlode. Several of my in-laws joined on the trip (my mom was supposed to go as well, but her plans changed when the vacation conflicted with the first part of my niece's visit from Alaska), so we drove westward in a caravan of three cars, two pop-up campers, two 12 year olds, two dogs, and 8 adults.

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My child, a virtual only child because of the age separation between him and his older brothers, has no memory of the crowded trips he once experienced in a car seat. 
Though traveling as part of a group sometimes results in about four times the stops of a solo journey, our breaks were held to a minimum, combining bathroom breaks with gas refills and eating picnic lunches at rest areas. We drove through Missouri for what seemed like forever...



...first driving across the state to Kansas City and then north along the western border. While Race Kate would have preferred to push ahead further, Mom Kate was OK with stopping in Mitchell, SD (home of the Corn Palace, one of the few tourist traps we didn't hit) around 5:30 so the boys would have a chance to swim.

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"Indoor water park!!"
Translation: one big waterslide, a structure that dumps water on you occasionally, and a really cold pool.
After an unimpressive hotel breakfast the next morning we saddled up for the remaining 4.5 hours to Spearfish (for us...everyone else was heading to Custer, where we would meet them after the race.). Our original plan had been to make a stop at the famous Wall Drug Store on the way, but a bathroom break at a gas station next to 1880 Town led to a change in plans when everyone decided to stop there.

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One of the buildings

Located on what seems to be basically a blank spot on the map, the "town" is filled with around 30 structures from the 1880-1920 era as well as numerous photos and artifacts. I love history and historic buildings, so I probably would have enjoyed it more had a) it not been about 100 degrees out and b) I hadn't spent the entire time calculating how far behind my preferred schedule this stop was putting us.

I tried to stay relaxed and not be a pain about it since it wasn't just my trip, but my stress level rose with each new building. Finally, Jeff asked if I was having fun, and I gave him the rundown on exactly how long it was still going to take us to get to Spearfish and how late a stop in Wall was going to make us. My stress level subsided a bit after we all decided to postpone Wall until later in the trip.

The rest of the drive was smooth and unremarkable except for my growing intimidation as we entered the Black Hills and I imagined riding there the next day.  We rolled into Spearfish City Campground at around 2:30 (ahead of schedule!), checked in, and set up on our site. The long drive was over, and after months of training and anticipation it was almost time for the long ride.

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