Buckle up people, shit is about to get real! We have just returned from an epic 5 day blast to the west side of South Dakota. Let me begin by saying that this trip in total for said 5 days was roughly 1100 miles, so there's that. I know I say this a lot but, "for those who REALLY know us", you know how much we love our Bucket List and find ANY excuse to cross something off, if for no other reason than to add something else. Well, I'm here to tell you, we have crossed off a bunch in the last 5 days, some that we added after speaking to some locals, so here goes.
The Badlands: It's as beautiful as the Grand Canyon, and so much easier to find. Picture this, you are driving down I90 West and all of the sudden you see it, and you think, "holy crap"! Now the choice is your's, do you exit and visit or do you just keep driving? For us, it was a matter of checking something off of our bucket list, so duh! We stopped, and at the first stop we had a chat with a slightly older couple and during our conversation this lovely woman actually used the word "Hogwash", it was awesome! And yeah, "Someday" I hope all of you get a chance to see this (and everything else to come).
Below are 5 photos: 1- The sunrise chasing us across South Dakota. 2- Fred the Frogg posing with the Badlands. 3- The obligatory 'selfie'. 4- Because "Beware Rattlesnakes" is a sign that not a lot of New Englanders run into. 5- Just because I thought Mike took a beautiful picture and I wanted to share it!
So it's been a long day, and we arrive in Custer, SD around 3pm. Just in time to check into our hotel and take a power nap. We need this nap for one reason and one reason only: Mt. Rushmore awaits! Our plan is to get there to see it during daylight hours, and then be there long enough to see it lit up at night. This part of our trip has an added meaning for me, and that is, to do what my Uncle Pug couldn't. Let me explain...my Uncle was an avid western and history buff, and when he was finally able to get to Mt. Rushmore, he wasn't well enough to walk the trail and see it in as close proximity as he would have liked, so we did it for him. Every step taken was not only to cross something off our bucket list, but to honor my Uncle, a man worthy to be in the company of the faces of Mt. Rushmore. And so I give you, in no particular order, Mount Rushmore!,
This next Bucket List visit probably isn't on everyone's radar, but it should be, and if it is, and you go there, plan on being at this place for hours. It's a place we always wanted to go to, but never realized the enormity of it. We went there wanting to know more, to see a work in progress, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. When we finally left on the first visit we KNEW we would come back. Why? Because there is more than one story being told here and all of the stories matter in ways that we cannot possibly comprehend.
I'm going to give you 3 names, and I'm going to ask you to search their history. Those names are: Crazy Horse, Chief Henry Standing Bear and Korczak Ziolkowski. After reading the history of these men and their histories and families you will understand why the bulk of our time was spent here. I will further challenge you to go to this monument and not feel forever changed for having been there.
1- What the completed monument will look like. 2- Fred on his continued quest to go everywhere possible. 3- On top of the monument. 4- One of my favorite selfies. 5- Actually touching the face of Crazy Horse.
This next block is all about a drive in the country. It's unlike any countryside that we've ever traveled. We had to travel back to Box Elder and collect our mail for the first time and were pleasantly surprised that the pile was a lot smaller than anticipated. Not that you needed to know all that but seriously I'm writing a blog, so clearly I have no problem over-sharing...lol
Anyway, on the way back we decided it was the perfect time to drive along Iron Mountain Road...(a recent addition to the bucket list), and then on to The Needles Highway. Both were equally beautiful, but for the fear factor.
Iron Mountain Road is a twisty, turning road that at some points freaked me out a bit because of the big drop off spots. But while going from one road to the other we encountered this:
Yup! This picture was taken by Mike, from the driver's side of the car. We were that close! It was un-freeking-believable! I wish I could be more eloquent than that, but seriously that's all I've got. Now, below you'll find the high points of the 2 roads we traveled, but please bear in mind these pictures will never do the justice that the scenery deserves. The first 4 are from The Needles Highway and the others are from The Iron Mountain Road.
I know, an epic trip right?! But wait....there's more! We've got one of the oldest ones on our bucket list to cross off. I'll give you a hint... it was a "Close Encounter".. of the coolest kind! If you didn't get the hint, then you are either not old enough, or just simply doing it wrong, if so may I suggest a search on DuckDuckGo! Or you could just look below. We spent our 9/11 visiting one of the coolest places in America, thankful for all the beautiful places this country has to offer. So here it is...Devil's Tower! (Crook County, Wyoming). If you look closely, in the fourth photo you'll see a climber. There were at least 5 climbers on it when we walked the loop around the tower.
And then there was Day 5 and the long journey back to our base in lovely Sioux Falls. I look forward to sharing with you all of the great things this city has to offer. In the meantime, there's one more stop to make. It was one of those places that has a million billboards along the highway telling you that you should absolutely stop here. Also, it was on my list, and it was just as cool as I had hoped. We also learned that there (as usual) is a great story behind it and the signs on the highway. Again, I suggest you search this one out too! Figured it out yet?
Seriously, it really is worth the visit. Go there around 10ish, grab some breakfast, a 5 cent cup of coffee, then meander a bit. At 11am the saloon across the street opens and stop in for a shot and a beer....because SALOON...duh!
So now you know what a bucket list beating looks like. On a personal note; I truly hope (as does Mike), that people know we are not trying to brag or gloat about our adventures. In fact, we are hoping to encourage and inspire everyone to live their best life, and we are so thankful that we get to share our stories with you.
Until next time....be well, be happy and safe travels.