I drove across the country with my son last week, from Paducah to Seattle, helping him move. 3 days of driving and never a dull moment. Brought 3 books to pass the time when I wasn't driving and never read a word. Great experience!
The number of road kill coon was unbelievable. The road was littered with them on I-70 in western Mo, I-29 from Kansas City to Sioux Falls, and then west on I-90 until the trees quit. If I could catch 1/4 of the coon we saw on the road it would keep me busy all season. I can see how a long liner could fill the back of a pickup with coon day after day in that country.
I noticed in South Dakota that once the trees quit the coon quit but there were PLENTY of skunks.
Saw lots of territory that I'd never seen before, some spectacular and some unlivable. I think I liked Montana and Idaho the best.
It was a great trip, even though the only sightseeing detour we made was to see Mt Rushmore. A lot of the time we were following the same path as the Lewis & Clark expedition. Being in a car for 14-16 hours a day is usually a chore, but this was a pleasure. The countryside is so different from the east, plus it kept changing between prairie, semi-desert, and mountains. The Seattle area is really cool too with both Mt Ranier and the Olympic peninsula nearby.
We left about 6:30 Monday morning and got to Seattle at 2:30 Pacific time. It was 39 hours of driving including a 2 hr detour for Mt Rushmore. On Friday I took a non-stop Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to Nashville.
A few years ago my wife and I went up to Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower in Wyoming. That was a great trip. Like you, I saw lots of BIG coons killed on the road. The Antelope herds were fascinating. Glad you had a good time.
The treeless expanse of the South Dakota prairie country was most notable. Made me think about the Sioux, who claim it as the land of their ancestors. It was/is, but not for all that long. The Sioux were driven from more rich lands in the great lakes region into the plains in the early 1700's. They did not have the horse at the time. They were forced to leave an agrarian society and adopt a total hunter-gatherer lifestyle on the plains, without the horse for help. That's a tough step down the ladder of civilization but they survived. Then with the introduction of the horse they thrived as a culture. Tough hombres I'd say.