Western South Dakota- waiting for another birthday surprise

This destination has guided our timing all along. Even along the cliffs in Nova Scotia we were discussing how many hours away we were from Sturgis. And how to fit in the stops we wanted to make within the deadline.

Going to Sturgis had been discussed when we departed Arizona in October. But it did not seem like it would fit with our Alaska target (or our dislike of huge crowds). But after a few nights of map-reading, route-planning and rethinking, we were able to make it work. So we made (very expensive) reservations at a campground in Sturgis and rearranged our trip to make it possible.

Friends do stuff like that for one another sometimes.

My oldest-best friend has been in my life since we were 5. We found each other in a Headstart classroom in Cottonwood, Arizona. We grew up 5 streets away from each other. We celebrated our birthdays together each summer, as they are just 15 days apart. We spent summers at the Verde River together and afterschool hours in our mesquite-tree-forts in the empty lot. We shared Barbies, plastic horses, bikes, lunch boxes and friends. We walked to and from school together every day for 8 years. High school years saw us drift apart. Adult lives took us in different directions. We were always aware of the other, and checked in periodically through the growing and changing of adulthood. But the circumstances of life brought us back together about 15 years ago. I am so lucky to have someone like her as a part of my life story!

And now you ask, what does that friendship have to do with Sturgis? Well, she had planned a trip to Sturgis for her 50th birthday. She invited me to come, but initially it just wasn’t going to work. When we realized it would work, it was decided that it would be a perfect surprise. So with a little help, we have coordinated this surprise.

But as with any surprise, timing is everything. We arrived to the western side of South Dakota about a week early. This gave us an opportunity to explore the highlights of this region. There is a lot to see here.

The Badlands area was beautiful and large. But much of the scenery is similar to the Lake Powell and Navajo reservation areas of Arizona.badlands badlands 1 badlands alta badlands ram however we did experience a wild buffalo- up close and personal. As we were camped at Sage Creek (a free, dry camping area in Badlands NP)camp at badlands   a huge buffalo walked up to our campsite, laid down in the grass and rolled over to scratch its back in the tall grass. Zeb was initially quite upset about this invasion, but after noticing the size of the beast, he quieted down and just watched it closely. We were only about 20 feet away! After the roll in the hay, it stood up and walked away slowly.  buffalo in badlands campbuffalo in badlands camp1

The next night we camped in the Black Hills. Fortunately we found a forest service road that led to a flowery meadow and a flat parking spot. It was a beautiful moonrise and peaceful night. black hills camp black hills moon black hills moon 1The next morning Mike and the dogs went out for a walk. After about 20 minutes they heard the yipping of coyotes and found themselves being herded by a couple of coyotes. black hills coyote looking at dogs

We drove some backroads and stopped to cook lunch in the shade of a huge tree in Interior, South Dakota and sit on our Kermit Chairs to enjoy the cool breeze.  chilaquiles under the shade of a church tree in SD The nearby saloon reminded me of a scene from Legends of the Fall, when the bartender refused to serve the Indian, resulting in a Brad Pitt fight scene. longhorn saloon

We also visited Mount Rushmore on a very hot day mango at Rushmore mike at rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial crazy horse plan and progress  We also stopped to see the Mammoth Site and learn about the archeological dig mammoth bones in SD

It was wonderful to have some time available to cruise around and do some serious sightseeing. And in all of the locations we saw groups of motorcycle riders, all helping us prepare for the possibly craziness of Sturgis ahead of us!

It was wonderful to have some time available to cruise around and do some serious sightseeing. And in all of the locations we saw groups of motorcycle riders, all helping us prepare for the possibly craziness of Sturgis ahead of us!

One thought on “Western South Dakota- waiting for another birthday surprise

  1. Lidora told me you guys had made it for her birthday. She was so surprised and happy. Love your sightseeing to get there. Pretty cool seeing the buffalo. Must be something being so close to one of those critters. Good thing your doggies don’t chase coyotes. My Sadie would have been coyotes dinner as she chased after them. Can’t wait to hear about Sturgis. Lidora did say it was a whole lot of people

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