Observations of South Dakota


The state is quite beautiful.  We are currently at Chris’s Campground which is located at about 3900 feet above the sea.  Spring is a great time to visit because everything is green.  Flowers are blooming, those species that do that here in May/June.  We are experiencing weather not unlike home.  Mild.  One big difference.  Rain and hail.  Every day we have afternoon “showers” which are akin to hard rain back home.  Of course, being in the tin can, sound is amplfied.

The park is now full of families enjoying their 3 day weekend.  And the owners of the park have placed two calves and four baby goats in a pen and both Beau and myself love to visit them.  So cute.  And, the other kids like them too!!

Anyway.  South Dakota is a land of great beauty.  Yesterday we drove through Custer State Park for the price of a $20.  Not cheap but then they do things a bit differently here.  Property taxes are higher than California.  The sales tax is 8% and everything including food gets taxed.  There is no state income tax so all taxes serve to make up that shortfall, I’m guessing.


George’s good side, apparently.

But, I digress.

The park was beautiful.  Red stone rocks here and there and trees. (Did see dying trees here and the forest is being harvested aggressively unless they just cut down the dying trees.  Hard to say.)  We are presently in the Black Hills.  The name was picked by the Sioux and it was translated into english.  The Dakotans didn’t translate the name of Belle Fourche, though.  It’s still Bell Fourche.  Wonder why?  I have no earthly idea except maybe the french trappers that beat Lewis and Clark to the West had something to say about it.


Black Hill countryside with meandering stream.

This is a state that has coal and oil and they mean to use it.  We have yet to see one bit of solar and the state car is a big, gas hogging truck.  You can drive 80 on the freeways and many do but that’s okay but there is no traffic.  There are no wind turbines either.  An occasional old windmill (like you could build out of tinker toys when you were a kid) can be sighted and usually they are turning because the wind here is a force of nature, to be sure.  We are thinking that because it is a solidly red state, they have not warmed up the idea of conservation and new forms of energy.  JoAnne confirms this.


Buffalo family in Custer State Park.

Our friend, JoAnne, says there are two seasons in South Dakota.  Winter and road work seasons.  There is a great deal of construction going on here now.  They are tearing down a hill to widen the freeway with new off ramps.  The hill is now an eye sore.  Don’t know that story.  JoAnne has another great S.D. saying.  When people get married, their honeymoon starts in Hot Springs, SD and it ends up in Deadwood.   Just an aside.

The only way you know this is an election year is that we see lots of sign for local elections.  You know, Board of Supervisors, that kind of thing.  Haven’t seen Trump signs anywhere and that surprises us.  However, having said that, many people right here in the campground are flying their American flags.   And we’ve seen quite a few crosses on hills.  Lots of churches.

The highways are littered with billboards.  When you get out on the two lane roads you don’t see many.  But on the interstate, there are lots of them.  Like Los Angeles, I guess.


Man and bison.

The rain has about stopped but there is still thunder and presumably lightning near by.   No kids in the pool now.  All is quite on the Western Front.

Dakotans get their veggies from CA.  I bought romaine from Castroville for my Caesar’s salad.  How knows?  Maybe the strawberries are Santa Maria?  Saw some cherries.  They may be from WA.  Mostly the grasses are grown here.  Hay, alfalfa, that kind of thing.  South of the Black Hills, it takes 30 acres to support one cow.  It is dry and barren looking in the summer, we’re told.  That why all those homesteaders stopped homesteading.  If they didn’t have a water source, they were screwed.  The grasslands have reverted to, well, grasslands.

We saw the under construction Crazy Horse monument that this guy started back in 1947.  The head is done.  We will never see it completed.  The Indian artifacts in the museum at that site were quite interesting.  The owners pride themselves in doing it all without gov’t assistance.  Well, that has slowed everything to a snail’s pace.  We think they might want to rethink that business model otherwise, your grandchildren might not see it either.

Road kill has included a porcupine and many deer.  An occasional prairie dog.  The woman at the old homestead historic sight reported that prairie dog is good eating.  Probably help those people survive.   Sturgis, South Dakota is known for it’s motorcycle rallies every year so we checked the place out.  For the life of us, we don’t get the attraction to Sturgis.  It’s nothing special.  And our intrepid reporter, JoAnne, reports that police departments from all the neighboring states send their forces for that week because, well., maybe because those hog riders are a bit unruly now and then.  And a lot of the locals leave town.  It is a wild and crazy time.  Right now, Sturgis is deader than Deadwood.

So, that’s it in a nutshell.  Just some observations to report while it rains.  When the front passes, we will go the grocery store, get a few things to complete our grilled scallop dinner planned for tonight.  Oh, and speaking of tonight.  It doesn’t get dark until 9 p.m. and the sun comes up ridiculously early.

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