South Dakota was beeauuutiful. We did spend a night in Minnesota, but driving through went much quicker than we realized. The only noteworthy thing about our traveling through Minnesota is our visit to THE Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth. He is about 55 feet tall and towers over the nearby houses in his bright green glory. Nearby, they package the peas and corn for Green Giant. Interesting...
Blue Earth is also supposedly the birthplace of the ice cream sandwich, but we saw nothing having anything to do with this.
Onward we went. We couldn't wait to get to all of the natural beauty that South Dakota claimed to offer.
We planned on driving to Rapid City, SD, that day, or at least as far as we could without getting tired, but we ran into some intriguing attractions. First we saw billboards for 1880 town. I had heard a llitle bit about this online, and not having any real destination or timeline, we decided to stop (because that's what road trips are all about.)
This place was quite possibly the creepiest place I've ever been. It was actually built in the 1960s and is run entirely by squeaky robots. The one man that worked there was really passionate about Dakota history, enlightening us to the fact that there was once the Dakota Territory which was once as big as both Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming combined. He tells us that there are Native Americans on parole who still use a nearby sweathouse, and that when the 1880 town owners were weary, they assured them that they had walked the red path. Thus, we learned that the red path is basically a path of high moral standards in relation to a higher power. After learning about this, the owners ordered truckloads of red gravel to pave the way to the Old West Town. After this explanation, CJ and I got to literally walk this red path. Long story short, every little hut in this town had different creepy robots in it explaining different parts of dakota history. The creepiest by far, was some kind of magic exhibit. Look in, and theres a mannequin cutting a box in half, push the button and hear a woman scream bloody murder. At another hut, mannequins are amputation a leg with a sig that says, "Dentists acted as doctors when needed." Also, dentists would extract ALL teeth, and put in dentures. Gross and painful.
We left there, CJ feeling like it was awesome, and myself quite freaked out.
I was soooooo happy to then find Porter Sculpture Park miles down the road. It was incredible; definitely my favorite site so far. Wayne Porter live about 2 hours from his park but sleeps there in a trailer during summer months. When I asked him if he made all these sculptures, he said, "Well, my dog has no opposable thumb...but he helps how he can." I asked him what the dogs name is. He said, "Spud. Same as my old dog's name. That way I dont have to 'member any new names."
Sounds like a hick, but he is actually one of the most intelligent people I've ever spoken to. He has a degree in political science, and a huge repertoire of books about psychology and philosophy. He's big on demographics, too. He said that vegetarians and atheists are among the smartest of people. Sweet! He grew up in a blacksmith shop owned by his father, so he's dabbled in making sculptures since he was 8. The park began 10 years ago when he stopped being a shepherd. Every piece has a very intense meaning. For example, two dogs facing off represent the choices in our lives that we must make. We can either fight, or run. risk being hurt, or saving our lives. Make of all the sculptures what you will.
Anyway, Wayne is definitely my new favorite artist. He has a book in his garage at the park where he asked people to write the most important thing they know. Really fascinating to look through.
We drove on and stopped for the night. We woke up and went to Al's Oasis, a very old (and now verrry tourist-y) rest stop on the interstate. There was 5 cent coffee in honor of the early days of the restaurant. Other than that, it was nothing special.
This is where the real magic of roadtripping starts. here we are on our way again, expecting to reach Rapid city or at least get much closer. However, we stopped at a different 1880s town, which was very very cool. We walked around a while, and at some point I realized I hadn't seen CJ in a while. I walk to the Saloon in town and sit down. Out walks CJ from the store behind the Saloon, clad in 1800 cowboy attire: black jeans, boots, vest, cowboy hat, bandana, fake gun, etc. I'm like, I gotta get myself a costume too! I walk back, and for 5 dollars I was set up with the only outfit that would accommodate a girl my height. So, I became a Southern Belle: long, white dress, hat, choker, boots, and white gloves. It was so much fun. Tourists asked us to takes pictures with them, and after that I walked around and completely immersed myself in the feeling of being from the past. After a while I changed out and it began down pouring. We actually feared a tornado would start because we could see a massive funnel cloud in the distant. We were trapped. Luckily, we were trapped in 1880s town.
Eventually the rain stopped and we moved on, sadly. We made it to the badlands and it was breathtaking. I literally had difficulty believing what I saw. We hiked a bit into the middle, and I sat down and took it all in. The storm caught up with us and soon it looked like something awful was about to happen. Wind picked up, dust shot in every direction, lightning struck all over, and we made a run for it to the car. Never have I seen the sky so dark.
Finally, we made it to Rapid City and paid a ridiculous amount of money because of our proximity to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, where we went today. I am very tired, so for now, I will just say that Mt. Rushmore was just a bunch of faces on a rock to me. Crazy Horse was awesome.
Will post facebook links to pictures soon, this website takes way too long to upload pictures.
We're driving to Yellowstone tomorrow.
Will update asap!