23,500 miles and 93 days later, I finally made it to one of the top places on my list. Rapid City, South Dakota. It’s the “hub” of southwest SD. There is just so much to experience here, it is one of those places where you can spend weeks and still not see everything. I got a taste of it in eastern Wyoming–I’m actually just a few hours away from where I stayed there. The terrain and scenic drives is what has driven most of this trip, though I do enjoy wandering in cities.
The ride down from Bismarck was confusing. The time zones really screw me up. I started in Central and somehow, somewhere, went back to Mountain. I’ve never really known what day it was but now I don’t know what time it is.
I’m just hoping this weather holds. It was another gorgeous day, 80+, but it was also a nerve wracking start. I ALWAYS pass a small town to grab a refill. I wasn’t allowed to. I barely made it into an Indian Reservation. They had a Covid check point and were about to turn me around, Unlike the Canadians, they decided that “writer” was essential traveler and allowed me to pass–but I couldn’t stop at the one general store I saw.
I was OUT OF COFFEE! A hundred miles of undulating hills, where I could see a rise in the far distance and thought, “there has to be a place after that.” Nope, just another rise in the far distance. It was just me and lots and lots of cows. Eh, that’s the chance you take when you avoid the major highways and take the scenic route.
I did finally find a cup of coffee and made it to my first geeky stop: the geographical center of the US. It was down in Kansas, but then when they added Alaska and Hawai’i, it moved to South Dakota. It is just north of Belle Fourche, South Dakota. Of course I stopped.
I had planned on going right to my hotel but it was still early in the day, noon or 1. Rapid City was my destination, but so many things I had planned on seeing were along my route, or just a little off of it. So, I just drove on down through the outskirts of the Black Hills, away rom the straight roads an back into the twisty ones with passes to a remnant of the Wild West: Deadwood.
Deadwood was a but disappointing, but I guess I should have expected it. It has been burned down a few times and built back up. Now, the entire area is like a theme park, complete with adventure parks for the kids and casinos for the adults. But I did get to see the bar and chair where Wild Bill Hitchcock was assassinated. Because of his reputation, he always sat with his back to the ball to play cards. This one night, he was talked into taking the empty chair with his back to the door. He was shot in the back and now aces and eights are called the dead man’s hand.
I got out of there quick. I grabbed another cup of coffee and headed south through South Dakota’s version of Disneyland.
Mount Rushmore National Monument was my next destination and it was still early. It was epic! Nothing like I had imagined. In my head, it was much smaller. The reality is it is carved into a mountain! It IS the mountain! I took a lot of pictures from a bunch of different views.
The ride to Rapid City was more my style. A scenic byway after passing through all of the parks and adventure centers. The country is just amazing. I just love to drive.
I could write a lot more, and will one day, but right now I’m excited, like a kid on Christmas Eve. For as long as I can remember, The Badlands has captured my imagination. It is about an hour east of Rapid City. It was one of the few DESTINATIONS I had in mind when I began this journey over 90 days ago. With the weather still beautiful, I’m going for the scenic drive along the badlands loop.
Geographical Center of the US