Travel · United States

South Dakota Badlands = Bad Behavior

Don’t deny it. Don’t for one second say to yourself that, “I was the perfect teenager who never complained about anything and didn’t start my parent’s premature path to grey hair.”

I grew up an only child. Awesome, right? WRONG! I’m sorry, but my ideal vacation when I was a teenager was definitely not getting stuck with my parents in a vehicle for a week unable to escape. Our vacations always consisted of road trips. Why didn’t we fly? I have no clue…and my parents have not been on a plane in a good 18 years. Weirdos.

Touring the good ol’ U S of A in a car excites a lot of people, but I am not one of them. Every vacation I took with my parents resulted in 8 or 9 hours in a car for a minimum 2 days before we reached our destination. I hated it. Looking back, I wish I would have cherished those moments more and taken in the scenery – experienced a part of the United States that I had not seen before.

I ran across a post the other day of a lady and her husband who traveled through South Dakota with their Airsteam. She talked about the Badlands, Wall Drug, and Mount Rushmore and all the experiences they had there. It made me reminisce nearly 9 years back to when I was 15. Our summer vacation was a roadtrip to South Dakota over the 4th of July. I had to get driving time in because I was working towards getting my license so I was the driver for the majority of the trip. Ugh. If I remember right, I think we spent a full 2 days getting there, maybe 3.

We stayed in Rapid City, SD and ventured up to Mount Rushmore so we could watch the fireworks that night. I have never seen so many cars and RV’s parked up and down a mountain in my life… and at 7AM. The place was packed. It was hot. I was pissed. The last thing I wanted to do was spend 14 hours staring at this monument that wasn’t going to move in the sweltering heat with 40,000 other people so I could watch fireworks be shot off the top of the monument. To my luck, it ended up pouring down rain and we retreated 2 miles down the mountain to our car in the rain and left.

We drove about 17 miles south to a monument called Crazy Horse. The memorial began being built on June 3, 1948. To this day, it is still nowhere near complete and I doubt it gets done in my lifetime.

Crazy Horse Memorial as of July 4, 2014. Photo courtesy of Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial as of July 4, 2014. Photo courtesy of Crazy Horse Memorial
What the Crazy Horse Memorial will look like at completion. Photo courtesy of Crazy Horse Memorial.
What the Crazy Horse Memorial will look like at completion. Photo courtesy of Crazy Horse Memorial.

The day we were there, they happened to be doing a blast of some of the rock and granite. Camera rolling, I was bound and determined to catch the blast on video. I went through one whole tape with nothing but tourists and squirrels in the foreground. Lo and behold, the blast happens when I’m in the middle of switching out tapes. Sheer disappointment. I guess I was expecting earth-shattering-rock-flying terror. Instead, all I got was a boom that sounded like a mouse farting and a small puff of smoke. My bratty teenage brain kicked back into pissed off mode and was ready to leave. I was then dragged back and forced to walk through the Crazy Horse Museum. Not my idea of a vacation.

We ventured up to Sturgis and Deadhorse before heading home. On our way back to Oklahoma, we drove through the Badlands National Park. Again, more time spend in a car. Thankfully, I did not have to drive. And again, my bratty teenage self was saying, “Great, rock formations. Woo. Hoo.” It was a full day of driving through the park, pulling over at scenic overlooks, and following slow traffic.

At the end of our tour, we drove to Wall, SD, which is located right outside of Badlands National Park. Wall is home to the #1 roadside attraction in North America – Wall Drug. What started in 1931 has now turned into 76,000 square feet of tourist heaven. It is actually a state law that you must stop at Wall Drug when traveling through Wall. To fit my enthusiasm about the whole trip, I was less than pleased to be dragged through this monstrosity of a store and shop for stuff my I didn’t want. We spent forever and a day there before driving down the interstate to find a place to stay for the night.

Wall Drug Storefront. Picture courtesy of
Wall Drug Storefront. Picture courtesy of

Looking back, I wish I would have taken the time to appreciate my surroundings and all the things I got to experience on that trip to South Dakota. Ask me then, and I could have given less about driving and traveling. Ask me now, and I would go back to South Dakota in a heartbeat and travel for a living. I would even drive! Hell, I would go so far as to hop on the back of our motorcycle with my husband and endure that journey. Ride up during Sturgis, spend a day there, circle up to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse and do some hiking, and come back through the Badlands.

I wish to hell that my parents would have given me an attitude check that sunk into my head. Don’t get me wrong, they chastised me the whole trip for my attitude but apparently it never did any good. Being that I am a picture junkie, I don’t even have any pictures from the trip, and that makes me sad. That calls for a trip pronto-donto in my book!

In conclusion, someone should have knocked the hell out of me when I was a teenager.


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