South Dakota

“South Dakota is boring,” you say? We beg to differ. Okay, for the first 5 hours it’s pretty boring. Lisa did some car-quilting and Jim picked a local radio station that played a retrospective of BeeGee’s music. Nothing says South Dakota prairie like disco! There are old barns, lots and lots of silos and the ubiquitous Wall Drug signs for hundreds of miles. There’s the World’s Only Corn Palace, which was actually pretty cool looking. But then we got to the Badlands and things really started to pick up!

We took The Badlands Scenic Loop on Hwy 240, a little detour through the eroded towers and canyons in the southwestern corner of the state. It is amazing! We highly recommend it. Jim describes the Badlands as “an upside-down Grand Canyon.” There were hardly any people there due to the off-season so there were times when we were the only people in sight on the trails. We could just hear the wind and the birds. We climbed all over the Door Trail, which gave a great view of the features, including the colored layers, the deep canyons, the powdery soil, the whole experience. Jim was totally jazzed by what we saw there. There was even wildlife, such as acres of prairie dog towns and bighorn sheep close enough for Jim to get some really nice pics. This was really the highlight of our day.

We were getting hungry and the only place around to eat was…. Wall Drug! Bison burgers and a homemade maple donut rejuvenated us and we were off to Rapid City. All day we saw about a ba-jillion billboards for the Firehouse Brewery so of course we had to visit it. It was 73 degrees and sunny, so we took advantage of the BEST outside space. The beer was pretty good and to top it off, it happened to be National Beer Day and they gave us some free beer glasses! We thought we were in nirvana, but alas, we were in the Black Hills and had other places to check out! There were four presidents waiting for us.

You don’t keep presidents waiting (well, maybe the current one but we digress). Going to Mt Rushmore in the off-season is such a nice experience. Lisa remembers being here during Sturgis when Andy was a newborn and the place was crazy with Harley riders. Jim took a 3-year old Dana before they built the new plaza (at least that’s what he thinks he remembers – he can’t remember squat). It was such a nice experience today, even though the sun was in a weird spot for pics. Jim’s camera did the best job, though Lincoln still looked like he lost part of his left cheek!

With the light getting low, we still wanted to get some miles in before we called it quits for the day. We checked in on Crazy Horse (still a work in progress), then headed into Wyoming to our hotel in Gillette. We wanted to go see Devil’s Tower but it would be dark when we got there. Unless the spaceships were expected tonight, there wouldn’t be much to see. So instead we witnessed a beautiful sunset over ranch land dotted with cattle and patches of snow. We really do live in a beautiful country and today we really had the chance to see it in a quiet and personal way. The weather is supposed to change to rain tonight, but we were lucky to have a gorgeous spring day in the sun on the prairie.

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