A few weeks ago we went on a trip to South Dakota into the Black Hills and the surrounding area. We stayed in Keystone, S. D. as our home base and branched out from there to see the sites. Keystone is a cute little tourist town that is in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore and near Crazy Horse Mountain.
Our first night out from Hutchinson we stayed in Wall S. D. and it was a long drive to get there. There were not any really good looking motels but we were so tired we just picked one and got a room.
The main reason we stayed there was so we could see Wall drug. It is quite a place to visit. The guy that started Wall drug store put himself on the map as the soda fountain that gave you free ice water.
As businesses would sell to him he added them to Wall drug and it is about 2 blocks square and it felt like it when we were in there. The old drug store is still in operation and is about in the middle of it all and the other stores all open up onto two main halls with one that connects the two main ones.
I was afraid I was going to get lost in there so I found the restaurant which is near the middle and waited there for everyone. We tried one of their famous home made donuts and of course the free ice water.
After seeing everything we could in Wall, S. D. we loaded up in the van and headed for Keystone. We found a new motel at the edge of town and decided to stop there and it was a wonderful place to stay. It became our home base while we were in the area around Keystone.
Out side the north door that we used all the time was a large hill and along the bottom of the hill was a rock wall. Every time we went out the door there were chipmunks on the wall scampering around.
So every morning when we had breakfast I would take a couple of the little mini muffins and wrap them in a napkin and go out and see the chipmunks. They were not tame enough to come to you and take the food but you knew you were being watched when you went out there.
I would break the little muffins into small pieces and spread them out amongst the rock ledges and then step back by the door to watch. I would barely be back at the door when the first one would scamper over to the rocks.
In a few seconds all 5 of them were there for their breakfast. One would always grab a piece and head for his burrow a few feet away from the rock wall and would disappear under ground with it. Then he would come back and eat some sitting on the rocks. It was a nice way to start the day to feed the cute little guys.
The area around Mt. Rushmore has changed because you can see it for miles now, in fact when you leave Keystone and round a bend you can see it above the trees for just a few seconds.
Also the area at the base where you view the mountain has changed. It is really regal around there now and makes viewing it a lot easier than it did back in the 60’s.
Then we went to Crazy Horse Mountain and spent the afternoon. I saw it in the early 60’s and they didn’t have much done but now the head and face of Crazy Horse and the flat part on top of the pointing arm is finished.
They have now decided to work on the horses head before finishing the arm and Crazy Horse. They have the outline of the horses head painted on the mountain so the tourists can see what they are going to do. It is really going to be awesome some day.
The drive through the Badlands took almost three hours or more and it was something that will make you believe in a higher being that made this earth and created the Badlands. I have never seen anything quite like them.
The Badlands are mostly rock formations that are hard to explain to some one that has not seen them. They are so immense and beautiful. We stopped at every over look and got out to see the sights from that new vantage point.
At one of the sites where the view opened up into a huge canyon one of our husbands said that it would be a great spot to hit a golf ball from and would be a really tough hole to play. So one of them grabbed a club out of the back of the car and a tee and a golf ball and teed it up by the sidewalk.
I grabbed the camera and told him to swing the club. While I was taking pictures of him getting ready to swing a woman walked up to me and said; “can I take a picture of that?” I told her to go ahead because no one would believe her when she told them about a guy playing golf in the Badlands without a photo.
He didn’t actually hit the ball because you would never find it and we would have probably been arrested if he had. But we joked all the way home about them playing golf in the Badlands and that the pictures would be great Christmas cards.
The Badlands was definitely one of the highlights on the trip for all of us and we hated to drive out of them and back to normal scenery. That is a must for anyone’s Bucket List; see the Badlands.
On the way home we stopped in North Platte, NE. and saw the Bailey Train Yard and went up in the Golden Spike Tower. This is another must on a trip to Nebraska. I could have stayed in the Tower all day watching them work with the train cars.
The Rail yard is 8 miles long and 145 tracks wide (at least). They put together the trains for Union Pacific that go both east and west from there. They bring the cars that will be added to trains into the yard and back those up to humps where they are sorted one at a time as they slowly go over the hump and are directed by computer onto one of 65 tracks for the east bound trains. For those going west there is another hump they go over and are sorted onto at least 45 tracks to be pulled and added to another train.
They also do repair work on locomotives and rail cars in the rail yard also. One can not imagine how big the place is unless you get up 8 stories to see it all below you. There is a volunteer retired railroad man in the tower all the times that will tell you all about what you see going on. We really enjoyed the time we spent there.
It was a fun trip and one that had more exciting things to see and do than we expected when we took off. It is a trip that I highly recommend to anyone that wants to see some awesome sights to inspire and remember for a lifetime, but don’t try to play golf in the Badlands. To contact Sandy: [email protected]