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The Road Trip

I recall it perfectly. It was a beautiful June day, upper eighties, a great day for the outdoors, not a 14-hour car ride. We had just finished packing the car. It was 6:00 a.m., and we were headed to the Black Hills. We drove for two and a half hours without a problem. At about Albert Lea, Sylvie had to go to the bathroom.
“Are you for real Sylvie!?” my dad asked sternly,
“I am positive.”
So we pulled over at the closest gas station, a Kwik Trip. We walked around and bought some snacks. I picked a Crunch bar and a Mountain Dew. My parents bought four six-packs of Gatorade to have when we arrived to the cabin. When we had finally reached South Dakota, my parents said that it was okay for Sylvie and me to start a movie. Sylvie chose Finding Nemo. When the movie finally ended, and we had reached Bridgewater, SD. My parents hopped out of the car and went to my cousins’ house to pick up the keys to their cabin. We were borrowing it for the weekend. When they came back to the car I put in another movie. I chose Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Right after the movie ended, the Badlands had started to show up. The strange thing was, there were no prairie dogs in sight. Normally my parents said they were everywhere, but there wasn’t one in sight. There wasn’t a chance for rain, no clouds, eighty degrees; it was perfect for them, yet there were none in sight.
Eventually we pulled over and hiked to a scenic overlook. A sign read, “Watch out for snakes!” My parents told me it would be OK and we wouldn’t see any. We finally reached the top of the lookout point, but still saw no prairie dogs. “Well, that’s weird.” my father proclaimed
“Yeah tell me about it!” my mom exclaimed “maybe they finally killed them all.”
“Well I hope not. Come on gang lets go!” my dad shouted.

As we continued down the highway, I continued to gaze out of the window, looking for any signs of animals. I didn’t see a single animal the whole time. “I am truly sorry Eli but there just isn’t anything out there today!” my dad said sorrowly.

“Yeah, it’s fine. It just would have been really cool to see, that’s all.”

“It is still disappointing though.”
As we drove along my parents pointed out cool formations and colors in the rocks. We had finally crossed the mountainous desert and reached the black hills. Where we saw amazing tree-covered rock formations for miles and miles on end. The rivers and water falls amazed me as we made our way to the cabin. After an hour or so we reached Lead, South Dakota and loaded up on groceries and other necessities. It was a twenty minute ride to the cabin, if you sped and took the quickest way possible. The pavement turned into dirt very quickly. The roads had countless pot holes, and what seemed like millions of tree roots sticking up.

Once we finally reached the cabin, we went inside, unpacked all of our luggage, and claimed bedrooms. After all that we took some time to relax after a long day by sitting on the deck and listening to the wildlife. We all decided to go to bed at about midnight. The next morning we were going to visit an old west style town. My mother woke my sister and me by clanging a pot and pan, because she had tried four times by just shaking us.

As we pulled up to main street things began to look strange. The whole town was normal, except one thing. There were no tourists in sight. The workers showed up, and all the businesses were open, upon asking around my father found out that everyone had left because of some strange supernatural encounter that had occurred the day we arrived in South Dakota. My father said that the employee that helped him said that this sort of thing happens about once every ten years, but this time it was a little bit different. He said couldn’t put his finger on what exactly it was. “Don’t worry there is nothing to be afraid of, nothing has ever come of it.”

We decided since no one was in the area, that we would go to Mount Rushmore because we wouldn’t have to fight the crowds. We were the only ones there, so we got free parking, and a free tour of the entire monument, including the behind-the-scenes operations. The park treated us to any one thing free in the souvenir shop. I got a chunk of rock from the original demolition of the monument, and my sister got a stuffed animal Blue Jay.
The ride home was mildly interesting. Rain had rolled in and we soon found ourselves in a thunderstorm. We knew something else was wrong when the birds were flying, not common in this kind of rain. The rain was coming down so hard we were barely able to drive in the mountains because the water would run like the Arkansas River at the low points on the road. The terrain must have been perfect because the dirt roads leading to the cabin were only damp from the rain; the hill the cabin was on must have stopped all the flowing water from making contact with the road.

After we entered into the cabin and started a fire, we turned on the radio and found that a severe flood warning had been issued by the National Weather Service. I remember them saying “stay in your homes, if your home becomes flooded, contact the state national guard at

605-737-6721. Again that is 605-737-6721 we urge you to remain calm during the duration of this storm.”

My mother told us that this same thing happened every summer when her family visited. That really put me at ease as we made dinner. We had planned to grill steak on our last night in the hills, but since the grill was under the deck, we decided to have it that night instead. We didn’t pack any seasoning for it so we just ate it plain, and it was still very tasty. We put away dinner and went to bed.

When we woke up in the morning, the winds and rain had finally calmed, but it was still cloudy. A quick glance at the ground revealed two Whitetail deer, a buck and a doe. I woke my sister up to come to my bunk and observe these magnificent animals. The deer eventually moved on, and my sister and I got bored. We found a simple solution to the boredom, and began jumping off of the top bunk in our bed. It only took five minutes before, my sister’s foot got caught on the railing and she face-planted onto the ground. After several seconds of crying my dad showed up. He took a quick look at the situation, and came to with the conclusion that I had pushed my sister off of the bed. When he determined that Sylvie was okay he began accusing me for what had taken place. My mom came up the stairs and started to side with my dad. Finally after my sister came to she explained what actually happened. All that resulted in was both of us getting in trouble. They were saying that the nearest hospital was thirty minutes away, and the ambulance wouldn’t be able to make it all the way. Everything Sylvie and I had taken into account before we began to jump.
That same day we had planned a cave tour of the Sitting Bull Crystal Cave. Because the tourists did not yet come back from their retreat, we got the tour alone, again. Although the full tour was not offered because some of the cave was flooded, we still got to see most of the biggest attractions. The people at the souvenir shop were not as nice as at Mount Rushmore. We still had to pay full price on everything at the store. Regardless it was still a really fun time.
Just as we were reaching the highway President George W. Bush came on the radio. He said “Everyone in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, evacuate your homes immediately. Martial law has been put in place for these three states. Remember this is a command, not a suggestion.”

“Well shoot.” My dad muttered.

“What did he say that for, Daddy?” my sister shouted.

“That was our president honey. He just likes to run drills for practice in case of an emergency.”

That answer seemed to satisfy her well enough. My mom pulled out the road map as my dad pulled over, so that they could discuss which direction to go. They debated for about ten minutes. In the end my dad won. He wanted to go south to Chardon, Nebraska. It was only a two hour and forty minute drive from Lead, South Dakota, but we were thirty minutes north of Lead. That could mean life and death. We decided to risk it.

The grey, poopy sky turned an evil green in just minutes. Rain began to pour down on us, the roads were extremely busy and very slippery. I counted 22 cars in the ditch, in just that thirty minutes. Something was different with this rain. It was like oil, slippery, and didn’t come off when the wipers went over it. The thunder was deafening, it was impossible to anticipate because the rain was so thick that we couldn’t see the lightning. The more we drove, the more rain came down, and thunder tore through the fiberglass car we were seated in.

An computerized voice came over the radio and listed the safe cities to go to in the surrounding states, and that Canada opened its borders, in order to allow people coming from North Dakota and Montana. Of the cities listed, Chardon was not one of them. Our only option was Hemingford, Nebraska, another twenty minutes away. The rest of the drive was just an adrenaline filled blur. All of a sudden, around the Nebraska state line I heard my dad shout “HOLD ON! . . . oh no…”

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