Other than an interesting couchsurfer host, we couldn’t find anything worth seeing in Nebraska; so we chose to drive through South Dakota on our way from Minnesota to Colorado.
Our first night of South Dakota camping was also our favorite. We drove onto the Fort Pierre National Grasslands and searched the rolling green hills for side roads. After cruising some gravel roads, passing a ton of cattle, and a little offroading, we found ourselves a perfect spot. Happy to be camping again, we fired up some fajitas and watched the sunset with a few cold ones.
The next day we headed into Badlands National Park. The South Dakota landscape can get a bit boring after you’ve got your fill of grasslands and sunflower fields, so the drastic peaks, canyons and land formations of the Badlands were a welcome site.
With the temperature in the 90’s and climbing we decided it was time to get a feel for the real South Dakota. In order to get to the roots of this land, we listened carefully to the signs and were guided to a magical place. The signs were hundreds of billboards, and the magical place was none other than the infamous Wall Drug.
If you need a flattened penny with a Buffalo on it, an authentic Sioux hand drum with a feather and beads (made in China), a prescription, a jackalope head mount, a beer, and a slice of good ol’ american pie, then Wall Drug is the place for you. I dare to say this place is the greatest piece of touristy Americana our nation has to offer.
Next on our agenda was finding a place to sleep for the night. Continuing with the camp-for-free theme, we chose to head to Sage Creek on the edge of the Badlands. Supposedly the buffalo walk right through this area each morning. I say supposedly because this is where things went downhill. After miles of dirt road we arrived at the Sage Creek camping loop.
The few sites on the mowed grass loop were occupied with tents, but no actual people were present…weird. We pulled off the road and parked in the grass near an area designated for those passing through via horse. Setting up the awning was priority #1…it was hot! I’m talking no breeze, back sweat, wish you weren’t wearing underwear kind of hot. Now we know why the place was a ghost town.
Just as I was setting up our camp chairs, it hit me…literally. A big ol’ fly straight to the chin. Two others were circling my ankles. Then another ran smack into my temple. Kamikaze flies..could it be? I looked around and noticed the truck and camper were covered. Our entire camp site was teeming with flies! Jenna momentarily distracted me with a cold beer and I sat sweating under the awning hoping for even a horse fart breeze. When a few of the kamikaze flies teamed up with a cricket and a bee to swarm me in my chair, I’d had enough. I am MAN, creator of the wheel, master of fire, and designer of the banana slicer; and this was war! The incessant heat and bugs had flipped a switch.
Things got a little blurry at this point but Jenna’s version of the afternoon includes me wearing nothing but gym shorts and flip flops, holding a fly swatter in one hand as if it were Excalibur, and a chalice of Bud Light in the other. She also mentioned hearing repetitive Carl Spackler-ish mumbling while I circled our campsite.
No less than 100 flies lost their lives that day…and it was all for not. As soon as I sat down to relish in my victory, the lord of the flies sent in reinforcements. I could almost hear him in his best King Longshank’s “Bring me the human. Alive if possible. Dead, just as good. Send news of our victory…shall we retire?”
So where do you tuck tail and run to when you’ve been defeated by an army of insects spouting Braveheart quotes?? A brewery of course! We dialed up a local Harvest Host and spun wheels out of that terrible place.
fyi – Harvest Hosts are Breweries, Wineries and Farms that allow RVs to camp on their property…for free!
After a good night of camping along the stream behind the Sick-N-Twisted brewery we visited Mount Rushmore and The Crazy Horse Memorial the cheap way. $11 to visit Rushmore and $22 to enter Crazy Horse wasn’t in the budget, so a drive-by worked for us.
And we’re off to Colorado!!!
“The mountains are calling and I must go” ~John Muir