And the road goes on forever...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's Been a Long Time, South Dakota

Driving through the central section of I-90 in South Dakota is like being on a family road trip from the 1950’s. A vast array of billboards proclaim attractions that would probably have most kids begging and screaming at their folks to “Please, Dad, let’s stop!” It is kitsch on a level not seen in too many other areas or states—states like Oregon that have banned the building of any new billboards and only the ones grandfathered in now serve as eyesores on the scenery. Some get pretty inventive though, like the Firehouse Brewery, right here in Rapid City, which uses old fire trucks to catch your eye. Mile after endless mile of straight road across prairie and tourist trap after trap, a funny thing happens and I find I am actually reading just about every sign for my eye’s diversion for something worthwhile to see.

After dropping from the plateau near Cameron, we crossed the Missouri River the evening before and found another boondocking spot tucked out of the way behind a closed car dealership and saddle shop. It is very windy; something we didn’t really have very much of in Virginia and forgot about on the western plains.

Shortly before Rapid City’s Black Hills come into far view, we get a tantalizing glimpse of the Badlands. We spent a night in the national park there once in our truck camper and I remember our cat Skitter decided to walk up and sniff noses with a shaggy buffalo. We were kept inside the camper for awhile as the huge beasts huffed and snorted and grazed mere feet from us. That would be an area worth going back to.

After parking the rig at WalMart we take time to scout various campgrounds in the Saturn for our new temporary home. It doesn’t take long as many in the area are closing within the next few weeks. We settle into a small mom and pop place with cabins and towering cottonwoods, on a scenic lake right in town. It’s a quiet spot with no frills excepting free and fast WIFI and good cable TV channels but that’s just the way we like them since we’re not here to enjoy campground resort amenities and thus dislike having to pay for them. Rapid City seems bustling and there’s good shopping we note. One edge of town sits atop the hilly plains while the westerly section where we are, sports pines and an array of trees now changing color. It is quite a scenic area and I think we’ll be quite comfortable here on our assignment which starts in just a few hours.