We woke up to a stunning sunrise over the plains somewhere on I-90 in central South Dakota. First of all – holy cow, this place is windy. I think I got windburn just stretching my legs at the rest stop. Also, the only way I can describe the land here is wild and lonely. Maybe I just got swept away in the stories of the sacred lands around us but I think you can definitely tell that something is different. It seems to hum with an ancient energy. Before the trip I thought South Dakota would be just something quick to see on our way out west, but I could probably have spent a month here easily.
The sky gets really huge in South Dakota because the horizon is low.
There’s tons of yellow grass, wildflowers, and interesting rock formations in South Dakota.
We stopped and fed some prairie dogs which was a new experience for both of us. They are silly little creatures that pop up and look super serious and then do funny shit like tumble around or stuff their faces. There was one goliath that must have outweighed the others by 3x, of course he was our favorite because he ate our peanuts ravenously.
Next we went to Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, which is a famous drugstore that’s been around since the 30’s or so. It’s a super tourist trap, but we knew this before going, and wanted to see anyway. Sure enough when we got there, there was barely elbow room and it was way too crowded for either of our tastes. We used the bathrooms and then booked out of there, after taking a few pictures. It was fun to see all the motorcycles around though, it was shortly after Sturgis.
Our first major stop was the badlands, which were amazing to see. There’s lots of interesting geology and a ton of wildlife. We were super lucky because we spotted a pronghorn just chilling, as well as some wild goats which we got some photos of.
Next up was Mount Rushmore. Everyone I know who had been there said it was just ‘OK’ and the real impressive thing to see is Crazy Horse, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time there. Moreover, the sun was setting soon and we couldn’t spend a lot of time there even if we wanted to. We planned to just snap a few pics and leave, but the parking lot cost $11. Call me cheap but I didn’t want to pay that for literally 2 minutes of visiting, so we asked the toll collector if I could make a u-turn. She was nice and let me, so we did, and hung out the window taking pics instead. Then we pulled off onto the shoulder to get a good shot, right in front of a sign that said absolutely no stopping. A red jeep behind me followed suit, and after giving eachother a thumbs up, we rushed to take pics. After getting a few a park ranger drove by and on his PA announced we had to move. We both hastily drove off and had a good chuckle.
While we didn’t get any stellar pics, we did have fun getting the ninja shots we did so this was well worth it.
Next up – Crazy Horse. For those of you unfamiliar, Crazy Horse is another mountain sculpture being carved to honor the Native American people. It’s going to be the largest mountain carving in the world when it’s done, as it’s still in the making. It’s taken years and years to carve what they have so far, because it’s massive, and they run the project entirely with independent funds. There’s so much interesting stuff about it, like the sculptor and what he had to go through when he first started it, the history of the people, etc. I have limited reception though and am trying to keep these posts short, so if you want to read more about it visit the Crazy Horse website here.
Crazy Horse was $22 for admission and another $8 for a bus tour so all in all it cost us $30 but it was well worth it, and I felt my money went to a good cause. I really would love to see the memorial completed in my lifetime.
Next we stopped for dinner in Spearfish @ Steerfish Steak & Smoke, South Dakota. They have pretty epic bloody marys and really good food. I tried the redheaded stranger which had bacon vodka, pickle, olives, and strips of bacon – my kind of drink for sure (<3 bacon, <3 vodka). My posslq hadn’t had Rocky Mountain (Prairie) Oysters before so that was a must. Also we had a really nice Delmonico steak with a mish mash of hot peppers on top and garlic mash, and a reuben with meat they cured themselves. This was way too much food so we ate a bit and packed the rest for the road.
Mini Rant: Then we found out that Tmobile is a lying piece of sh*t and their ‘unlimited data’ only applies to non-roaming data. Apparently in Wyoming & Montana & most of the Dakotas, they don’t have their own towers so they provide cell service through other carriers, but the data is called ‘domestic roaming data’ and you only get 50 mb per month. WTF who even knew there was such a thing? This was unacceptable since we really were dependent on that data to help us find places to go, so I called and bitched to them which took 2 hours, but I got more data for free. I did, however, waste about 8 hours at McDonaldses across the USA downloading maps, finding places to do this and that, and other vacation-planning stuff, because all of the stuff I had planned on doing in the car on the way weren’t possible with their dead zones. Buyer beware if there’s any other TMobile customers out there. They still have the best international plans so I’ll continue to stay with them for now, but they lost a lot of points in my book after that bs. : End Mini Rant
After all this fun we headed to Wyoming, and Yamped at the Buffalo WY McDonalds, which as it turns out is a pretty hot spot for other campers and truckers so we had some kindred spirits around. Too sleepy to keep our eyes open, we drifted off, excited for the next day.