Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buffalo, Gold, and Bears, Oh My! (South Dakota, Day 1)

Technically this is day two in South Dakota, but since Mom and I got here in the evening yesterday, the only thing we did was go out to Perkins for dinner (their broccoli cheese soup gets major props from me!) and then go to bed. So, I'm considering today to be day one.

For those who are feeling a little lost, I am currently on my long-awaited "Wild West" vacation. Mom, Dad, and I are spending one week in South Dakota followed by one week in Montana. It all started last year when I mentioned to Dad over the phone (I was in Korea) my longtime dream of visiting Yellowstone, and suggested that he and Mom join me for a vacation out there in 2010. One week later, Dad called to inform me that he had booked a vacation out there...for July/August of 2009! He thought we should spend two weeks in Montana, but since I like to see as much as possible when I travel, and since I have always wanted to visit Deadwood and Mount Rushmore, I suggested one week in Montana and one week in South Dakota. It's been a little hectic for me to plan around this, since I am moving to VA the day after we get back to MI and then starting work the day after that. Still, I am really glad that we decided to do this.

Mom and I flew out here, and Dad opted to drive (saves the trouble of renting a vehicle). The flights for Mom and I were a little crazy - Kalamazoo to Detroit, Detroit to Minneapolis, then Minneapolis to Rapid City - with very short layovers between flights. With my knack for timing, I was on day three of a migraine when we left, and the pain and nausea got steadily worse as time went on. By the time we got here, I was one sick, over-medicated girl! Bed and my special chiropractic pillow (Dad brought it with him so I wouldn't have to lug it on planes) have seldom looked so good!

Today I felt much better, thank goodness! We got an early start, since South Dakota has a two-hour time difference from what we're used to. Dad had spotted an advertisement for a place called Bear Country USA, and it sounded good to all of us, so that was our first stop.

Bear Country is not cheap, but anyone who comes to South Dakota should be sure to go - it is well worth the money. We drove through a huge wildlife area, where we were able to get super close to elk, mountain goats, arctic wolves, bighorn sheep, pumas, buffalo, and more bears than I have ever seen. The animals were completely relaxed, and seemed to view the cars as toys put there for their amusement. One of my favorite sights was a white buffalo. I have heard of them, but until now I had never had the chance to see one. Following the drive, we parked and went to Babyland, wish is basically like a cute little zoo filled with almost painfully cute baby animals. For us, the best exhibit was the baby bears. They were roly-poly furry dumplings who played, wrestled, and hammed it up for the cameras. (I will be posting pictures after I get moved in to my apartment in Manassas and have unpacked my camera cord).

Following Bear Country, we went to the Thunder Mine, where we took a fascinating tour into the mine. I got some great photos, which I am looking forward to using in class. We followed the mine with a tasty lunch in Keystone, which included buffalo stew (delicious). After lunch, we toured the area for a while longer, and then drove back to Rapid City, where we went to the Geology Museum. The museum has an excellent collection of rocks, minerals, gemstones, and fossils. History museums are still by far my favorites, but I really do enjoy looking at different rocks and gemstones. The dinosaur skeletons were mind-bogglingly large. Every time that I see one in a museum, I find myself very grateful that they are extinct. I mean, can you imagine going swimming and then running into one of those ginormous creatures that resemble a water-dragon? Or taking the dog for a walk and getting chased by a T Rex?

1 comment:

Kayleen said...

Hey there, I'm happy to hear you are having a good time in South Dakota. I really enjoyed your blog, and I hope the rest of your trip goes great!

SD Office of Tourism

"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"