Friday, January 20, 2012

THE Trip, Man and Big Butt Vs the Tunnel, Part 2

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

July 2, 2011

So, we left off with Man breathing a sigh of relief, as we have cleared the first of the two narrow tunnels on the Needles Highway at Custer State Park, Custer South Dakota.

Between the two tunnels on this section of highway is some really pretty scenery.  I am not sure how much of it Man saw, between the obsessing about the tunnel to come and driving the narrow, curvy roads. There were some turns that went more than a hairpin, more than 180 degrees, and at least one of them had a speed limit of 5 MPH.  Here are a few of the photos Sony and I snapped off, noting, it is almost as hard to get a good photo at 20 MPH when the scenery is 12 foot away from the roadway as it is to get a good photo at 65 MPH when the scenery is one-half mile away.  Translated, that means, there were a number of really bad photos, out of focus, whew. But, here, are those that passed my muster:






Well, "T" time (tunnel time) has arrived, first we pass the "One Lane Tunnel" sign.  Then, the sign showing the width of the tunnel.  Remember my comment (see above) about it being hard to get an "in focus" photo at 20 MPH?  The photo showing the road sign with the width of this tunnel, is SOOOOO out of focus I cannot read it, and photo editing cannot fix it.  I have looked at this photo a lot the last week or so, and, I believe it says 8 foot X inches, my wild guess is 6 inches.  I have surfed the net looking for any reference to the width of the tunnel, the real width, eh??  Lots of sites tell of the "narrow" passage, however, the only one that stated an exact measurement was at Google Books, where I found  "Frommer's National Parks of the American West", page 63, publication date of May 3, 2010.  And, even that reference was not totally clear, as this quote shows:

"Tunnels on the Needles Highway/Sylvan Lake Road (S. Dak. 87) are as low as 10 feet, 7 inches and as narrow as 8 feet, 4 inches."

Nice, but, mmmm, what is not clear, is this the tunnel we have already driven through or the one we are approaching?
 
In any event, Man thinking that the tunnel is NINE foot, having successfully cleared the prior tunnel that was marked 10 foot 4 inches on our map, (forget that it is also marked 9 foot on the road sign, sighhh, color Carol confused by all these conflicting numbers) lines up and we drive through!

THE NINE FOOT TUNNEL (which is probably closer to 8 foot 6 inches, Big Butt is 8 foot wide):


And, below, this blur is inside the tunnel, the sides flashing by, with a bit of a hint of Big Butt's fenders, I know, ROTFLOL, HORRIBLE photo:


So, after we maneuver through the NINE foot tunnel that probably is not 9 foot, we find a place to pull over and park and get out and walk around.  The sport of the day is to stand and watch vehicles driving through this narrowest of narrow tunnels.  Lots of ooos, ahhhs, laughter, awe, snickering, giggling is going on by all the spectators as car after car, truck after truck bravely enter the tunnel.  Here is a pickup truck coming through, note, not a big butt truck, and this is not the most narrow spot of the tunnel:


And, a smaller SUV type:


Believe me, people were watching Man drive Big Butt through, you could see the amazement and amusement on their faces (well I could, Man was too busy watching his big butt fenders in the side view mirrors and, mmmm, sweating a bit).

My out of wack sense of humor got tickled when I saw cars, you know, regular sized cars, approach the narrow tunnel, line up, and then pull in their side view mirrors.  A regular sized car is about 6 foot wide, meaning they had more than 1 foot on each side of their vehicle.  After the shoehorning of Tana into our campsite and the squeaking of Big Butt through this narrow tunnel, I just giggled.  Also sighted, a automobile with a sun roof, roof open of course, someone standing up, their head and shoulders above the roof, camera in hand, let the photo op begin!

And, here is the Needle, which is just a few yards beyond the northern entrance/exit of this narrow tunnel:


Our last stop of the day was to drive around the Sylvan Lake Campground, it is a lovely area:

  

This day at the campground area there was a June wedding and sadly, several units from the Custer County Search and Rescue squad were there conducting a search.  We did not hear why they were there or the results of all that activity, but, it is always concerning to see all those resources on a scene.

Our ride around the Wildlife Loop and the Needles Highway to Sylvan Lake Campground took about 4 hours.  Man survived his "out of my comfort zone" tunnel drive and so did Big Butt, not a scratch to be found.  I got some great photos and a few stories to tell.  (OK, I will admit it, I was a bit gleefully overjoyed to watch Man obsessing over Big Butt's fenders, after his numerous teases about my fear on the Palm Springs Tram and my reluctance to go near the edges of 3,500 foot tall canyon walls. I know, my bad!  See me smirk??)

It was a lovely summer day in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Perfect for a ride through a tunnel or two.




.

21 comments:

Phil and Rudee said...

Loved the story Carol! I thought those tunnels were tiny when we drove through them on our motorcycle, can only imagine how he felt in a dually "big butt" truck! LOL

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Whew! Glad THAT story's over, LOL! Golleee, Carol, what a way to start my day, reading both parts of this story at once! Coffee and butterflies...not a good mix!

Of course, now I'm wondering how wide our RV is and what we would have done in the same situation. Mike relies on me too for navigation and if I had of got him pointed at these tunnels...well, I can just here him now.....

Amazing photos here, just beautiful!

Carol said...

Phil, we saw a few bikes ride through, and, yes, those tunnels still looked tiny! :-)

Carol said...

Lisa, We know how tall Tana is, and how long and wide, 13 foot 1 inch tall and 8 foot wide and 1 or 2 inches shy of 38 foot long if you include the ladder and all of her pin, which of course, we do, because, mmm, that ladder and that pin and everything in between MUST fit in a campsite.

Hint: Measure your MH, write those measurements down, and put on one of the visors in the cab where you can access it NOW and at any time. Don't be leaving those measurements to memory, especially that height one. Taking one's roof off is not a pretty thing.

Hope your tummy feels better soon! :-)

Barbara Poole said...

This was among the best of your stories, and some pretty neat photos too. My eyes would have been closed, the heck with the camera! However, I'm glad you had yours in hand. Anyway, I'm glad you made it through with inches to spare.

Lynne Carothers said...

Another BIG inhale!

Susan Clark said...

Heavens! Great, great photos for which I can only be thankful. I'm pretty sure this is one spot I shall never actually see. Hats off to you both.

Apple said...

I believe I've said this before but Man can be on my ROAD-eo team anytime! I'm not sure how I would've handled that last one. Loved how you told the story.

Apple said...

Good advice to write down your measurements. I once rented a truck and would have taken the top off if the height hadn't been taped to the dash. You might also want to jot down your gross combined weight.

Hummer said...

Loved the scenery, the story, deep breath. Great story.

Greta Koehl said...

You know, I actually got a little clammy reading this ... feeling a little claustrophobia ...

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Carol, I showed Mike the tunnel here and he said "He drove through THAT??" He also said our mirrors don't fold in and we'd have to take them off to get through. LOL!

Carol said...

The only time I closed my eyes doing some of this stuff we did during THE Trip was that Palm Springs Tram ride. That tram ride also taught me that if I kept shooting, the effort of getting the photos, kept me from panicking.

Carol said...

And, ANOTHER BIG EXHALE, ok, make that gigantic exhale! LOL

Carol said...

I guarantee Susan, that if you take a normal sized car you can do this, and it is SOOOOO worth it!

Carol said...

Thanks Apple, for the kind comment on the story telling. Man does do a pretty good job with that driving stuff. Especially this time!

Carol said...

Breath, more, again, deeper! Thanks Fran, it was a very pretty area.

Carol said...

OOO, sorry Greta. I think most of the rest of THE Trip is pretty benign. Well, there was the 120 heat factor day, followed up by the oil blowing out of the engine the next AM. Little stuff. Whew, actually the 120 heat factor/oil blowing out of the engine story scared me LOTS more than this one. Seriously.

Carol said...

Lisa, Not only did we drive through it, we survived to laugh about it.

Joan said...

Carol, love the pictures, the story, your wicked sense of humor, --- o, heck, I have just enjoyed the trip --- during and after the fact. And it's a good thing that you dinna decide that you must be on top of tana (to get the best of the best pictures)LOL

Carol said...

Thank you Joan. Oh, by the way, I do NOT climb on top of Tana, I don't do ladders past the 4th rung, my feet freeze and legs refuse to move. SIGH. And, Tana was sitting out this trip, happy as a clam back at the campground! LOL