2018 Summer Road Trip – South Dakota Day 1

The dryer at the airbnb was nigh useless and I lost two hours to it just heating up the clothing in the dryer without seemingly drying. On inspection, the dryer had no vent and had some sort of condensation tank that was in no way collecting condensation. Anyway, off to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

I’m now in the land of prairie dogs. In the same way an ant hill will seemingly destroy an 8″ x 8″ plot of grass, a prairie dog hole/warren/den does the sae on a much larger scale. They are one of the few ways one can encounter the bubonic plague so it’s good they don’t generally let you get close. When approaching an area with nests, at about 75 feet away, the prairie dogs would go up on their hind legs and stare at you. At 50 feet, they’ll lie low in the depression made by their dens. At 25 feet, they’ll start chirping at you and disappear under ground. These three concentric rings were centered on you and followed you as you moved, giving you a nimbus of chirping prairie dog as you move around.

…or at least that’s how I thought prairie dogs worked. With a little more experience with them, there seemed to be three types:
1) Those as listed above
2) Those used to cars where you could practically run them over but that would scurry away if you opened your door
3) Those used to humans and who’d waddle over if you had a peanut

Theodore Roosevelt was pretty as a park but didn’t have any exceptional areas. The geology again was the geology of glaciers plus a river. I took pictures, looked at more prairie dogs, and moved on.

At the visitor center, I asked if there was a good place outside the park to fly my drone. The guide indicated it was illegal in the park. I said that I asked for something outside the park. The guide said “oh, yeah, you did” and proceded to circle some places on a map for me to look at. I thanked him and drove to the first spot with drone in hand. Wow. The guide was right. There were some lovely rock formations separated by verdant valleys where he recommended and considering the high and pointiness of the flora, I would have stood little chance on foot. From sufficient height, a field of prairie dog dens look like prairie acne or a field overtaken with ants. I saw a group of antelope for the first time as they scampered majestically, later realizing it was probably due to the sound of the drone being that of a cloud of angry bees.

Then next stop was the Enchanted Highway in Regent, ND.  For about 32 miles there are large metal sculptures at 4-6 mile intervals with a little parking lot and turn out for each.  Each is quite large, made of scrap metal, and planned by a local artist as an attempt to not have local towns go extinct.  At the end in the town of Regent I stopped at a small gift shop.  The elderly shopkeeper asked “coming on going”.  I assumed coming was coming for the highway and going having seen it.  I said “goin’.” he said “right”.  I bought a small Christmas ornament and some local fudge.  Small towns in this area seem to usually have public bathrooms.

In Meadow, South Dakota, near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation there is a spot that is 120 miles from the nearest McDonalds.  Referred to as the McFurthest point, this spot is as far from you can get from a McDonalds in the lower 48.  I stopped, tried to take a picture, and was eaten alive by mosquitoes.  My next stop was….wherever I was staying for the evening which was still a good number of miles off.  The next urban center was Art Alley in Rapid City, SD and the next other site was Mt. Rushmore/Wind Cave National Park.  I opted to skip Rapid City and head straight to Hot Springs, SD to rest.

This post is backdated and was published on August 1st, 2018