Wrong Perception

How often do we listen to the perceptions of others regarding our hiking, traveling, and vacation plans?  We want the best experience for the time and money invested so we ask questions. Mine was “What is your favorite place to visit in South Dakota?” 

Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Black Hills, Sturgis, and then nothing for the rest of the state? One person said he was “disappointed” in the Badlands, but it is a National Park and pretty famous. We have to at least drive through The Badlands. Mount Rushmore had attracted us – once, but not a second time. Sturgis and the Black Hills were in the direction of lingering smoke from Western fires. We turned East coming from Wyoming. 

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalms 63:1 NIV

South Dakota is a BIG state and took us two days to cross half of it, and to stop and see things. There are signs everywhere about Wall Drug Store so we had to make a stop there. Lots of touristy things to buy with our grandkids names, but we are not shoppers, so it was a quick stop.  Huge parking lots to accommodate the campers and tourist buses, but they were mostly empty on an early Covid morning. 

The Badlands were delightful. We were greeted at the entrance sign by standing and laying buffalo. Huge creatures remind us of the Native American distant past. Many people and campers and motorcycles and cars are visiting here from all over America. There must not be a pandemic. 

I thought it was beautiful in a stark, hot, desert way. Some bits of green tucked in a dry valley where there is no water. We spent time listening to the wind. 

On the interstate – the sides of the roads were harvested for hay in late August. We watched the roadside billboards for places of interest. Three Rs store – Ride, Rope and Rodeo. We stopped in Murdo to look at a car museum and memorabilia. Hot. Did I mention hot.

The Dignity statue is an unexpected artistic highlight in Chamberlain, SD when you cross the Missouri River. The 50-foot high statue by South Dakota artist Dale Claude Lamphere, depicts an Indigenous woman in Plains-style dress receiving a star quilt.

Lewis and Clark stopped here on their exploration of the West. In the middle of the desert, there is this big river and all the tributaries surrounding it. Lush. Wet. 

Turning north, we landed in Aberdeen, SD, near the border of ND and home of “MyWay” hotel chain. We ate some of the best steak. Ever. A day of South Dakota and the American West vastness overwhelms us. We were delighted with this state and our perceptions changed. 

Have you ever visited somewhere no one recommended and loved it? Hated it? What makes you decide to visit a place? 


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