The Longest Dirt Road In the World

(I’ve mentioned this adventure a few times so while I recover from my cold , I thought you might enjoy seeing the original post. Call it a Re-Run)

I believe this was the day after Mount Rushmore. Sandy had wanted to see some Native Americans and I suggested we take a drive to Badlands National Park. The White River Visitor Center is staffed by members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Looking at the Park Map it seemed that the visitor center we wanted was on the southern part of the park. Sandy had also discovered that she had left her souvenirs from Mount Rushmore in the gift shop and wanted to go back there to see if they still had them there. She had her receipt so I figured we could go to the visitor center and then back track to Mount Rushmore.

This was the first morning that we didn’t have a tour scheduled so we didn’t have to rush to get up. We decided a break from Jimmy Dean was in order and we walked over to the Perkins Restaurant next door for breakfast.

Southern End of the Badlands

After a leisurely meal we headed to the car and south to find the Visitor Center. It was a little confusing at first but eventually we arrived and true to the advertisement it was staffed by Native Americans.

The displays were wonderful and the staff great to talk with. They answered all of our questions. One of the staff said they were having a Pow Wow at Pine Ridge and suggested we go there next. We could see Wounded Knee at the same time as they were all in the same area. We just had to drive across the Pine Ridge Reservation.

I left Sandy to get directions and headed out to the car. I met another Native American Staffer on the way in. He stopped me and said “Snow tonight”. I laughed and said “ Oh no, I hope not!” he laughed too and just said “ Yes, snow.” Sandy and I laughed about the snow predication as we climbed into the car.

Sandy said to take a right onto a dirt road that ran right past the Visitor Center. We had learned that because the reservation is considered a sovereign nation , that they do not get federal funds to maintain roads or other infrastructure. Therefore almost all of the roads on the reservation are dirt. Still, this one seemed to be well maintained and graded so we set off at a fair clip.

Pronghorn racing through the field

As with everywhere we had been so far the scenery was just amazing and there was wildlife everywhere. This continued to amaze me because seeing wild animals out like this during the day just doesn’t happen in the northeast. Spotting a deer during the day is unusual in spite of road kill to the contrary.

Deer by the roadside

Now remember it had rained hard the night before. I’d had the pleasure of driving from Mount Rushmore to Rapid City in the dark and downpour. So Sandy and I are chatting as we drive along this dirt road when all of a sudden it was mud. The car swished about a little and I made note to watch more carefully for the puddles. Most of them didn’t look like much but looks are sometimes deceiving. Sure enough, we began to hit more and more muddy patches finally hitting the biggest mud puddle of all!

Muddy road

I tried to swerve around it but it covered the whole road and the car just slid sideways into the middle of that mess. Water flew everywhere and our white car wasn’t white anymore. There was even mud on the sunroof. With a little fish-tailing we were able to get ourselves out and on our way again but first I had to stop to laugh. It was the funniest thing that had happened the whole trip and it really tickled my funny bone.

Our muddy White car

I don’t know how long we drove but it seemed to be forever. I pretty much figured we’d gone in the wrong direction but we’d been driving for so long that I wasn’t going to back track. Sandy said the Staffers probably saw us drive off in the wrong direction and said something like “stupid white women”. Well after that mud bath that just hit me funny again so I had another laughing fit.

Just as we were joking about being lost on the reservation forever we bumped onto pavement. We drove through a small settlement and then saw a sign for one of the main roads. As we pulled onto it, Sandy said she wanted to get out and kiss the pavement. That set off another round of giggles.

Longest Dirt Road in The World

I did take a picture of the dirt road. It seems to go on forever. In additional to the road just going on and on, there’s nothing on it. There are no little villages or stores or gas stations or signs. You just drive. It must have been what the first settlers experienced when they began to cross the prairie.

I should mention too that we made it back to Mount Rushmore and Sandy went into the gift shop where she had made her purchase last night. She showed her receipt and they replaced her souvenir.

But we never did find the Pow Wow. Going to one is now on my bucket list for a return trip but we had a lot of fun driving the “Longest Dirt Road in the World”.

Next Post: Thunder Falls

” Flash Back” – South Dakota

To the Lakota Sioux it was the malo shika, “the bad lands”. To the French-Canadian fur trappers it was Les Mauvaises a traverser, ” bad lands to travel across”. In the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die, it’s “Nature’s High Drama”. Whatever you chose to call Badlands National Park in South Dakota it all comes back to spectacular.

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040a

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Yes, I’ve been to South Dakota and I’m ashamed to say that when my sister suggested a vacation there my first response was “What’s in South Dakota”. Her answer was  “Mount Rushmore”. 488 copy

Although that’s true and Mount Rushmore is certainly awe inspiring, there was so much more to our South Dakota vacation and we only explored the area from Rapid City to Pine Ridge. That’s just the southwestern corner of the state.063a

This rates as one of the best vacations I’ve taken. We flew into Rapid City in the afternoon. After checking in and getting dinner it was still light out so I wanted to begin exploring right away. Yes we were tired but why waste good light?  We turned our rental to interstate 90 and headed east about 80 miles to a turn off for Badlands National Park. What a way to start the vacation! In the golden light of the late afternoon we got our first look at the canyons and rock formations of the Bad Lands. It took my breath away. The amazing vistas are exceeded only by places like the Grand Canyon. And we saw animals!

071aRabbits and Mule Deer and a glimpse of some pronghorn.

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Over the rest of the week we explored Custer State Park where the buffalo, pronghorn, and prairie dogs are an everyday wonder.  (Where the deer and the antelope roam.) The wild “begging” burros  of the park had no shame in their quest for handouts!

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After a critter jam of buffalo we entered Wind Cave National Park  following a ranger to a depth of 200 ft. below the surface.

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We drove the winding Iron Mountain Road from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore, twisting and turning on the horse shoe turns and “pig tails”, not a road for the faint of heart.485 copy

We rode the 1880 train round trip from Hill City to Keystone and watched a family of Mountain sheep cross the road as we headed to the station. On the train ride we learned about the history of the black hills and saw “summer cows”…”Some are white, some are brown”….

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I’m still following the Wild Horse Sanctuary.

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What a day that was! But it didn’t end with wild horses, it ended with Mammoths at a dig in Hot Springs.

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We went to the Pine Ridge Reservation  but got lost on “the longest dirt road in the world” (our name for  it) and never found the PowWow.

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And there was more but I’m running out of room. We never got to Deadwood, or Sturgis , and only saw Crazy Horse from the road. The Corn Palace is farther to the east in Mitchell, but we did go to Wall Drug Store where we had dinner and bought some mementos. And South Dakota is where I “met” Scout..my little prairie dog with the flower. Totally unexpected and so sweet looking. Glad I caught this moment in time.

PD flower

Yes, I can count South Dakota as a YES on the countdown, but I’d like to go back again. The count now stands at 16 / 25

Meanwhile Back at the Coliseum

A clinic was going on. Stacy Westfall (A noted horse trainer and performer) was teaching “neck reining” and “Spinning”. horse show 095 copy

I almost hate to say this but it reminded me of the many “coaching” lessons I had in ballroom dancing except the goal here was to get your horse to put his feet certain places.

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The talk of the technique and how your horse’s body needed to move a certain way, well it was surprisingly similar to teaching a couple to execute a good pivot.

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Who knew that there was footwork and technique for horses too! Back feet together, right crosses left, etc., etc. 🙂

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South Dakota

To the Lakota Sioux it was the malo shika, “the bad lands”. To the French-Canadian fur trappers it was Les Mauvaises a traverser, ” bad lands to travel across”. In the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die, it’s “Nature’s High Drama”. Whatever you chose to call Badlands National Park in South Dakota it all comes back to spectacular.

072a copy

040a

008

Yes, I’ve been to South Dakota and I’m ashamed to say that when my sister suggested a vacation there my first response was “What’s in South Dakota”. Her answer was  “Mount Rushmore”. 488 copy

Although that’s true and Mount Rushmore is certainly awe inspiring, there was so much more to our South Dakota vacation and we only explored the area from Rapid City to Pine Ridge. That’s just the southwestern corner of the state.063a

This rates as one of the best vacations I’ve taken. We flew into Rapid City in the afternoon. After checking in and getting dinner it was still light out so I wanted to begin exploring right away. Yes we were tired but why waste good light?  We turned our rental to interstate 90 and headed east about 80 miles to a turn off for Badlands National Park. What a way to start the vacation! In the golden light of the late afternoon we got our first look at the canyons and rock formations of the Bad Lands. It took my breath away. The amazing vistas are exceeded only by places like the Grand Canyon. And we saw animals!

071aRabbits and Mule Deer and a glimpse of some pronghorn.

058a copy

Over the rest of the week we explored Custer State Park where the buffalo, pronghorn, and prairie dogs are an everyday wonder.  (Where the deer and the antelope roam.) The wild “begging” burros  of the park had no shame in their quest for handouts!

141

After a critter jam of buffalo we entered Wind Cave National Park  following a ranger to a depth of 200 ft. below the surface.

113 copy

We drove the winding Iron Mountain Road from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore, twisting and turning on the horse shoe turns and “pig tails”, not a road for the faint of heart.485 copy

We rode the 1880 train round trip from Hill City to Keystone and watched a family of Mountain sheep cross the road as we headed to the station. On the train ride we learned about the history of the black hills and saw “summer cows”…”Some are white, some are brown”….

241 copy

I’m still following the Wild Horse Sanctuary.

456 copy

What a day that was! But it didn’t end with wild horses, it ended with Mammoths at a dig in Hot Springs.

186a

We went to the Pine Ridge Reservation  but got lost on “the longest dirt road in the world” (our name for  it) and never found the PowWow.

005 copy

And there was more but I’m running out of room. We never got to Deadwood, or Sturgis , and only saw Crazy Horse from the road. The Corn Palace is farther to the east in Mitchell, but we did go to Wall Drug Store where we had dinner and bought some mementos. And South Dakota is where I “met” Scout..my little prairie dog with the flower. Totally unexpected and so sweet looking. Glad I caught this moment in time.

PD flower

Yes, I can count South Dakota as a YES on the countdown, but I’d like to go back again. The count now stands at 16 / 25

South Carolina

If someone says South Carolina to you what is the first thing that comes to mind? To me it’s the heart of the south. Maybe Gone With the Wind was set in Georgia but for some reason it’s Charleston SC that makes me think of southern hospitality and Southern Belles, like Scarlett. Sorry Margaret Mitchell, I shouldn’t move the location of such a beloved classic.:)

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I have a sister-in-law from Charleston. My brother met her when he was stationed at the Charleston Naval Station. She’s always been a good sport with us “northerners” and she has a really wild sense of humor.  I haven’t seen her in awhile but I have these great memories of laughing till my sides hurt! Good times! But most of the visits have been elsewhere, not in her home state of South Carolina, so forgive me, Ellen, if I don’t get it quite right.

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Charleston SC is known own for its rich history, well-preserved architecture, distinguished restaurants, and mannerly people, Charleston has received a large number of accolades, including “America’s Most Friendly [City]” by Travel + Leisure  and  “the most polite and hospitable city in America” by Southern Living magazine. (See,  I’m not the only one who thinks of Southern Hospitality.)

About 70 miles south of Charleston is 5,000 acre Hunting Island State Park, home to loggerhead turtles, alligators, herons, and oystercatchers.

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Also part of the low country is the Famed Hilton Head Island. This is one of the most popular and developed resort areas on the eastern seaboard.

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It includes 25 championship golf courses and 300 tennis courts. My friend “Ace”, a tennis fanatic, has attended tennis camps at Hilton Head.

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I also hear a lot about Myrtle Beach. That’s a big tourist area but close to Myrtle beach is something much closer to my heart. Someplace I intend to make sure I visit. Believe it or not I first heard about this place at King Richard’s Faire. Then I saw a show on one of the TV channels…Travel Channel, Animal Planet …one of them. The place I really want to visit is  Myrtle Beach Safari. It’s on T.I.G.E.R Ave.

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TIGER Stands for The Institute of Greatly  Endangered and Rare Species. The same people that tour with the tigers and ligers with the medieval fairs run this sanctuary. http://www.myrtlebeachsafari.com/ As I recall, a day at the sanctuary getting to play with the animals is VERY expensive but I wasn’t able to check the cost while I was preparing this post. Their “tour season” seems to have ended so they may not have posted their tours for next season yet. But the video on the website is running and I think if you check that out you will understand why I want to go there so badly.

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Although I haven’t had the opportunity to explore SC to my heart’s content I was there for my brother’s wedding. So I think I have to count SC on my “yes” side even though I still want to go back.

My new tally 15/25…10 more states to go in the countdown.