Alaska 2008

Rapid City, SD to Billings, MT

378 Miles/605 Km

23 June 2008

Route Map

Destination Map

Route Information


Points of interest

Distance From





Rapid City Rapid City KOA Home
44.063 N
103.158 W
I 90
US 16
SD 44
Sturgis, SD Sturgis Bike Week Home
Rapid City
44.365 N
103.502 W
SD I 90
Sundance, WY Devil's Tower National Monument Home
Rapid City
44.404 N
104.361 W
WY I 90
Gillette, WY Home
Rapid City
44.280 N
105487 W
WY I 90
WY 59
Sheridan, WY Home
Rapid City
44.805 N
106.937 W
WY I 90
WY 336
Crow Agency, MT Little Big Horn National Monument Home
Rapid City
45.575 N
107.452 W
MT I 90
Billings, MT Billings KOA Home
Rapid City
45.760 N
108.484 W
MT I 90
MT 3

Photographs and Commentary
Click on pictures to enlarge

It was a beautiful day to travel. Less than half an hour after we left Rapid City, the clouds broke and we had beautiful sunny skies with temperatures in the low 70s. The route travels through rolling countryside with grazing lands on both sides of the road. Shortly after we crossed into Wyoming, we started seeing "pumping jacks," pumping oil from wells scattered for several miles along the road. We also saw one of Wyoming's other natural resources when we passed an open pit coal mine. There are not many towns along the highway so we have to monitor our fuel situation because interchanges with services are few and far between. The other thing that was scarce, particularly in Montana, was rest areas. I don't think we saw half a dozen in the entire trip.

The Hess gremlin struck today... not once, but twice. As we were rolling along I-90 in Wyoming a car passed us and threw a rock at our windshield. I remember commenting to Susie that this probably did no damage because I didn't see any visible star cracks or bulls eye hits on the glass. A short while later as we pulled out of a service station, I noticed a six inch crack on the driver' side. I marked the length of the crack with my finger to see if it would grow... it grew another inch by the time we got to Billings. I expected hits on the Alaska highway because we lost a windshield on our last trip. The last place I expected a hit was on an Interstate highway with sparse traffic. I called the insurance company and they put me through to the glass company they contract with for glass replacement. They had a location in Billings but they could not get to me before 10am tomorrow morning... we plan to be well on our way by then. I will have to wait until we get into Anchorage to get it repaired. Fortunately we have full glass coverage.

The second gremlin strike was self induced. I was backing up the trailer to get it a bit closer to a concrete pad on the site. A branch from a tree struck the skylight dome over our shower and shattered it. Ordinarily, it shouldn't shatter. However, the skylight seemed to be quite brittle, probably from exposure to the elements. I found a large RV dealership on the other side of Billings who had the part and spent the afternoon removing the remains of the old skylight and installing the new one. It was a hot couple of hours spent almost 10 feet off the ground. This time the gremlin may have done us a favor. The dome had an old crack in it and there was evidence of some water seeping into the space between the inner dome (which was not damaged) and the outer dome. I also found a spot where the factory installers did not have enough putty tape and left a gap that also showed signs of water penetration. This was not an expensive project, but I was totally exhausted by the time I finished. I will put additional sealers around the skylight at one of our next stops to make sure it is completely water tight.

It is highly likely that this page will not be posted until at least tomorrow. This campground advertises that it has free WiFi. However, it doesn't cover the whole campground. Our site has intermittent reception and it is an extremely weak signal when it is available. This is one of my biggest pet peeves and I have discussed this with more than one campground owner. If you are going to offer Wifi, do it right and install repeaters throughout the campground so that all areas are covered with a decent signal. Some campground have WiFi systems that are not much better than the one many of us have at home. This is extremely frustrating when you need the Internet to pay your bills while on the road, keep in touch by e-mail, and maintain two Web pages as I do. Many people now travel with their laptop so the need for WiFi is not a luxury... it is a necessity. Campground managers argue that putting in a professional system is not cheap. I have told these manager's that most people would be willing to pay a reasonable price for decent connectivity. They can have the WiFi as a separate charge or just build it into the daily rate. Another alternative is have an outside provider install the system and charge the users just like many hotels do. Enough venting!

Our first look at the Rockies on I-90 somewhere in Wyoming

How I spent my Afternoon

Working on skylight 1

Laying down putty tape

sam working on skylight 2

Installing the skylight

As seen on the Road

1946 Teardrop Trailer

1946 Teardrop Trailer on display at an RV dealership in Billings, MT. This one is extremely spartan and smaller than the one pictures in yesterday's page. A women standing there with her grandchildren and told us that she remembered traveling in one of those with her parents... that had to be a very "close" family. One of the sales people told us that if you were over six feet tall, your feet we confined to a space less than a foot high at the rear of the trailer.

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