Chapter 214 The Sky is Higher Here, the Landscape is Larger . . . and the Bugs are Bigger

Hello Dear Readers,

It’s late Wednesday night, and we are now in Hill City, South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore). I’ll fill you in  on Mt. Rushmore soon. Meanwhile, here’s what happened yesterday:


The day began early. We were up at 7:00 a.m. and left Salt Lake City by 7:30. Our destination: Rawlins, Wyoming, a halfway point between Salt Lake and the town of Hill City, South Dakota (near Mt. Rushmore). Thoughtful Husband drove the RV while I made Tom and Huck breakfast. I then drank a cup of Earl Grey and read the entire new issue of Fine Books and Collections in one sitting. Wonderful. This RVing thing is really great, I thought to myself. When I looked up from my magazine, we were well into Wyoming.

We passed small town after small town, and when we came across a town called Lyman, we exited the highway. I wanted to take a look around for Gentleman Jim Arner’s Wyoming Mercantile and Book Ranch, which I believed to be in Lyman. After driving around town unable to find it (turns out he has a P.O. Box in Lyman, WY), we decided to turn onto a very bumpy street to turn the RV around and head back to the highway. Thoughtful Husband, who drove the big vehicle with care (he really did), didn’t notice a speed bump that was the same color as the asphalt on which it sat. As we jounced hard over the speed bump, we heard a horrible wrenching sound from the back of the RV, and he shouted, “We lost the bikes!”

All four of our bikes were locked onto a steel bike rack attached to the back of the RV. Thoughtful Husband’s business partner and close friend loaned the rack to us for the trip. (Don’t worry T.H.’s business partner — it’ll be replaced). When we went over the speed bump, the hard jolt to the RV caused the steel bike rack to snap off of its connector. It fell to the street with a heavy thud, bikes and all.

We stopped the RV and ran outside while residents of the street peeked out windows. “*!@*$*” said Thoughtful Husband. “The bike rack is broken in half!”

“Watch what you’re saying around the kids,” I reminded him.

“Well, they need to know that there’s a time and a place for cursing and this situation is the perfect time and the perfect place!” he replied indignantly. I didn’t dare try to photograph this moment for the blog, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Oh, and to top it off, did I mention it is Thoughtful Husband’s ___th birthday today?

So far, not so good.

An hour later and the bikes were stowed underneath and INSIDE the RV, making it just a tiny bit cozier than it already is. We finally arrived in Rawlins, two hours behind schedule. Not much there. Prairie grass, a McDonald’s, and a KOA Campground, where we were supposed to camp. We decided that as the day was pretty much not going well and there was not much to see in Rawlins that we would drive further, to Casper, Wyoming, thus saving ourselves about 3 hours of driving the next day.

The drive from Rawlins to Casper is gorgeous. Wyoming is gorgeous. Why did the westward moving settlers keep going after they got here? The sky is higher here, the landscape is larger. Vast swaths of prairie grass and table-land mountains make a dramatic and pristine backdrop. We’d drive for miles with no buildings in sight, not even a house. I could just imagine what the pioneers must have felt when they first saw beautiful Wyoming.

We stopped at a place called Independence Rock, a huge rock where pioneers who passed by carved their initials in stone. The dates of the carvings go back as far as 1850. I was really excited to get out of the car and climb the rock (it’s really like a small mountain – I can’t link to it from this laptop, but if you google it, you can see it). I wanted to put my hands in the carvings made by other hands over 150 years ago. I wanted to see what those coming in the covered wagons saw.

When I got out of the car, I noticed an odd vibrating noise. Hmm, I thought. That doesn’t sound like wind blowing through prairie grass. Just then a woman came down the path from the rock, running through the prairie grass and fanning her hands around her face. “I hope you brought bug repellent,” she said. “Mosquitoes are everywhere.”


That vibrating noise? It was the enormous amount of insects in the prairie grass – crickets, bees, flies, mosquitoes, red ants. You name it; it was there. I could hear that awful buzzing of mosquito in my ear, and I thought I felt a red ant crawl into my sandal. Then I saw a sign warning of prairie rattle snakes in the grass. Hadn’t we had enough bad luck today? Now I needed to worry about rattle snake bites? Suddenly, I remembered that while I wanted to be tough like the hardy pioneer souls who came before me, I would NEVER have walked through humming grass like that. I would have stayed in the East, for sure.

“You guys go ahead and climb the rock,” I urged Thoughtful Husband, Tom, and Huck. “I’ll stay down here and take pictures of you at the top.” Knowing my irrational fear of even harmless insects, the boys went ahead. I remained below, thanking my lucky stars that I am not actually a pioneer woman.

I do hope that when we camp in the covered wagon at the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead in a few days I overcome my fear of humming grass. What I really hope is that the grass in DeSmet, South Dakota doesn’t hum.

It was not the best day yet, but, as one of the all-time great heroines was known to remark, “Tomorrow is another day!”

P.S. **Thanks to all who have sent comments and emails. I can’t reply personally to each from the road, as all I have is this tiny laptop with a rather dubious internet connection (not much signal out on the prairie). Just wanted to say I received your messages and thank you for all your good wishes. I’ll blog as often as I can from the road. I don’t think I will be able to add photos until I return home, though. L


Filed under A Family Business, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Chapter 214 The Sky is Higher Here, the Landscape is Larger . . . and the Bugs are Bigger

  1. BiblioHistoria

    Please don’t forget to tell us what you do and where you are on July 4th. Thanks. So far the trip sounds exciting – bugs and all. Hope the boys are behaving themselevs.

  2. Book Friend

    Be careful of those bugs! They can do more than just bite/sting. My brother-in-law had a miller (moth) CRAWL INTO HIS EAR . . . I mean WAY inside. He had to go to ER to get it out. The sound was deafening . . . maddening. It could drive a person nuts. The ER dr. said he once had a gal come in with a ladybug in her ear. She was in her car when the thing went in there. She thought a helicopter had landed on top of her car.

  3. Welcome to the plains! You’d better fortify yourself. The grass will hum in DeSmet. There are few trees now, but in DeSmet, the trees will hum too. Happy Independece Day!

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