Author Topic: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)  (Read 1321 times)

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American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« on: September 08, 2022, 11:29:04 PM »
When we told friends and family that we were planning to visit the Dakotas, the response was invariably the same - "what's there?"  Well, depending on who you speak to, the answer is either nothing but hay bales or quite a lot.  Heck, even some Dakota residents were bewildered as to why we came to visit.   I was in a Walmart in Dickinson, North Dakota, when an older woman observed Little One wearing a kippa and excitedly uttered "Jews!"  She then turned to me and asked if we were Jewish and where we were from.  When I said New York, she cupped her hands to her mouth and whispered "why would you come here?"  I suppose even some Dakota residents take the natural beauty of their home state for granted.  However, we very much enjoyed our visit and I encourage all like-minded nature lovers to visit the Dakotas as well.  We do not think that you will be disappointed.

Part 1 - Planning and Preparation

This trip was booked at the last minute, with very little planning and preparation.  We decided to fly into the Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota and then drive to Dickinson in North Dakota, where we would stay for five nights.  Afterwards, we would drive back to Rapid City, South Dakota, for an additional nine nights.  Logistically, this made more sense than flying into North Dakota, renting a one-way rental car for the drive to South Dakota, and then flying out of South Dakota.  The flights I found to North Dakota did not have very good schedules and would have had us arriving late in the evening.  However, the flights into South Dakota had us arriving in early afternoon and by driving to North Dakota, we would be able to see some of the country that we had never been to before.  The flights were booked on UA using miles.  Since the flights were relatively short, we booked cattle class saver. 

For accommodations, we booked a five-night stay at the TownePlace Suites in Dickinson, North Dakota, which was a relative bargain at only 60k MT points.  We used suite night awards and were upgraded to a one-bedroom suite.  (I know what some of you are going to say - this was a waste and that folks have received amazing upgrades using these certs.  However, we had no other immediate uses for these certs.)  Although we had a bad experience with TownePlace Suites in the past, this hotel was quite nice and we have no reservations about recommending this hotel.  Information about TownePlace Suites in Dickinson, North Dakota, can be found here:

https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/dikts-towneplace-suites-dickinson/overview/

For the second half of the trip, we booked a nine-night stay at the Residence Inn in Rapid City, South Dakota.  Although it was not as good a bargain as the TownePlace Suites, we used a combination of free night certificates and MT points to cover the stay.  We were unsatisfied with this hotel and would not recommend it for several reasons: (i) we were promised an upgrade to a one-bedroom suite upon booking, but when we showed up at the hotel we received the standard room and our request for the upgrade was flatly denied; (ii) cleanliness was an issue - we found what appeared to be blood stains on the curtains and in some other areas of the room; (iii) there is a small waterpark attached to the hotel, but our request to use hotel towels at the waterpark was denied - we were told you have to bring your own towels (this was absurd - who travels with their own towels); and (iv) the bathroom toilet kept running and eventually stopped flushing.  Clearly, the place wasn't being properly cleaned or maintained.  If you absolutely cannot stop yourself from looking, information about this hotel can be found here:

https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/rapri-residence-inn-rapid-city/overview/

Being that we would easily be a few hundred miles away from the nearest Chabad, we brought along boxes of matzah and small boxes of grape juice for Shabbos.  We also brought along a cooler full of frozen chicken and meat.  We were able to purchase all of the regular kosher foods normally found in any supermarket in both North and South Dakota.  We were even able to find Barternura wine for Shabbos in both Dakotas. 

Part 2 - Arrival and Drive to North Dakota

After arriving at Rapid City Regional Airport, we picked up our rental car and drove to North Dakota:

Welcome to North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bug apocalypse on the drive from South to North Dakota:

Bug apocalypse in North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen at the TownePlace Suites in Dickinson, North Dakota.  Nothing fancy but adequate for our needs:

TownePlace Suites in Dickinson, North Dakota by P Bryan, on Flickr

TownePlace Suites in Dickinson, North Dakota by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 3 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park ("TRNP"), South Unit

Wanting to visit TRNP was the primary reason for coming to North Dakota.  As an added bonus, TRNP has few crowds that are typically found in other national parks.   This park is divided into three units: (i) South Unit; (ii) Elkhorn Ranch; and (iii) North Unit.  Information about TRNP can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/thro/index.htm

We began our visit with a drive through the South Unit:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our first stop was the Painted Canyon visitor center, where we hiked the Painted Canyon trail:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Beautiful flowers along the trail:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

These things are like dandelions on steroids.  Larger than a softball:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Grasshoppers were everywhere:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we continued driving along the road through the South Unit, where we saw wild horses:

Wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wild Horses, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We saw many prairie dogs and enjoyed watching their antics:

Prairie Dogs in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Prairie Dog, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

And of course, there were plenty of bison:

American Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

American Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

American Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

American Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

American Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

American Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We stopped to hike the Wind Canyon Trail:

Wind Canyon Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

And enjoyed a nice view of the Little Missouri River:

Little Missouri River, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Some of you eagle eyed readers might be able to spot "Lonesome George," an older lone bison banished from his group, in the river below:

Little Missouri River, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our next stop was at the picturesque Coal Vein Nature Trail:

Coal Vein Nature Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

This looks to be a really old Juniper Tree:

Juniper Tree, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Juniper berries:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we called it a day.  Of course, we saw more bison on the way back:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 4 - Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge (LNWR)

Having read about LNRW being a prime area to view various birds, including prairie chickens, I was drawn to visit this area.  Information about LNWR can be found here:

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/lostwood

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

While we did not spot any prairie chickens, we did see a multitude of beautiful wildflowers:

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Can you spot the mule deer:

Mule Deer at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Eastern Kingbird:

Eastern Kingbird at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Tall prairie grass that gives plenty of cover to prairie chickens:

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We saw huge cattails:

Cattail at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Tower that we were able to climb part of the way up:

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We discovered a sharp tailed grouse blind, so I went to investigate:

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

It was, mildly put, disgusting.  The blind was completely full of bird droppings, as if the birds gave photographers the "bird," saying yah, we know you are there and get lost.  I took one peek inside and promptly turned around to head back to the car.

Part 5 - Fields of Sunflowers

Unbeknownst to me, North Dakota is quite famous for its fields of sunflowers, which are in full bloom during August.  We passed by many of these beautiful fields, and stopped to take photos:

Sunflowers, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sunflowers in North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sunflowers, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sunflower, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 6 - Another Fun Day at Theodore Roosevelt National Park - North Unit

One day is definitely not enough time to visit TRNP, so we came back to see more of the marvelous sights, this time at the North Unit.  We stopped at the Cannonball Concretion pullout, to view strange round stone formations.  According to information from the National Park Service, these concretions form when mineral rich water seeps down through the porous layers that make up the badlands and deposit minerals in spaces or gaps in the sediments. The minerals act as a kind of glue, holding these sediments together, often forming around a core. As more and more layers are deposited, the concretion builds outward like a pearl, before being exposed by erosion.

Pictures of the concretions:

Cannonball Concretions, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Cannonball Concretions, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Cannonball Concretions, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we hiked the Little Mo Nature Trail:

Little Mo Nature Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Black and white berries living in perfect harmony and getting along:

Little Mo Nature Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Little Mo Nature Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The trail ends by the banks of the river:

Little Mo Nature Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

And of course, we saw many more bison:

DSC_2518 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_2617 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We also visited Theodore Roosevelt's relocated Maltese Cross Cabin for a ranger program.  This was the park's namesake's first cabin that Theodore Roosevelt built in North Dakota, where he went for some last chance alone time after finding out that he was going to be a father.  As it neared his wife Alice's due date, he returned home, but shortly after the birth of his daughter (also named Alice), his wife died.  That same day, his mother died of typhoid fever.  To try to escape his grief, he returned to North Dakota.

Maltese Cross Cabin, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr
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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2022, 11:29:26 PM »
Part 7 - Back to South Dakota & Wind Cave National Park

After visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, it was time to drive back to South Dakota for the remainder of the trip.  We were greeted by a well-shot-at "Welcome to South Dakota" sign.  I suppose that the folks in South Dakota are more trigger happy than the folks in North Dakota, unless it was the folks in North Dakota shooting up the sign:

Welcome to South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our first stop in South Dakota was Wind Cave National Park, which has above and below ground attractions. 

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We saw a coyote hunting for prairie dogs, but this one didn't appear to catch any before wandering away:

Coyote hunting for prairie dogs, Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Here I am:

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hiking a portion of the Rankin Ridge Trail:

Rankin Ridge Trail, Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rankin Ridge Trail, Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rankin Ridge Trail, Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rankin Ridge Trail, Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

And then it was time for our first tour of the cave - we first opted for the Fairgrounds Cave Tour, information about which can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/wica/planyourvisit/tour-fairgrounds.htm

Wind Cave is quite famous for its "boxwork," which is made of thin blades of calcite that project from cave walls and ceilings.  This boxwork formed when dissolved calcium carbonate crystallized in cracks in surrounding rock. The surrounding rock then erodes away and leaves the boxlike calcite crystals.  Photograph of the boxwork in the cave:

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wind Cave used to be under an ancient sea, and there are brachiopod fossils in the cave:

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we took a second tour of the cave - the Natural Entrance Cave Tour.  DW thought that the Fairgrounds and Natural Cave Entrance Tours were distinct and both worthwhile to do, but after having taken both tours, we would not have done both.  We preferred the Fairgrounds Cave Tour, but it was the more strenuous of the two.  Information about the Natural Cave Entrance Tour can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/wica/planyourvisit/tour-natural-entrance.htm

Here is the natural entrance to the cave - yup, it's that small hole in the ground.  Supposedly, back in the day, some folks used to squeeze through that hole to get into the cave:

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

"Cave popcorn," which are small knobby growths of calcite:

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

More boxwork:

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 8 - Mt. Rushmore

A visit to South Dakota is not complete without seeing Mt. Rushmore.  Some of you might say Mt. Rushmore is boring, but Little One was quite excited and exclaimed that he had been waiting his entire life to visit Mt. Rushmore.  We visited this iconic site in the late afternoon, and stayed for the ranger program, where we heard patriotic music, watched a video about the presidents, and heard a ranger speak.  Then, after dark, the mountain was illuminated, and we all rose to sing the national anthem.  It was a nice evening program and we all enjoyed it.  Information about Mt. Rushmore can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Little One did the junior ranger program and received a junior ranger badge:

Junior Ranger Badge, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 9 - Badlands National Park

I must admit that I wasn't all too excited to visit the Dakotas, but I was very pleasantly surprised, especially with our visit to Badlands National Park.  Information about Badlands National Park can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The landscape was quite stunning:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our first hike was at the Door Trail and the landscape was otherworldly:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Close up view of strange looking soil:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Next up was the Window Trail:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

It's called the window trail because of "windows" like this where you can look through to see the rugged terrain and down into an orange canyon of eroded sediments like sandstone.  The kids had so much fun here that we returned several times:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The kids especially liked scampering up the cliffs and Little One exclaimed that this was "better than an amusement park":

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Long shadows with the setting sun:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Strange shapes and textures:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We returned on another day to hike the Notch Trail, which was a lot of fun but not recommended for little kids or those afraid of heights, as you need to ascend/descend a ladder and navigate cliffs with steep drop offs:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The first obstacle - the ladder:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The trail runs right along a cliff and drop off.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

End of the trail:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Can you spot us heading back?

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Time to head back down:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

It was a very hot day when we hiked this trail, so one of the best times to go is about an hour before sunset, when the weather has cooled off somewhat.  We had plenty of time to complete the hike and got back as the sun began to set:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park has an evening Night Sky Program, where park rangers give a presentation about the animals of the park and then bring out telescopes for viewing the planets and stars.  This almost made up for our disappointment earlier in the summer from the lack of telescopes on Mauna Kea. When the ranger pointed out the Big Dipper, Little One (aka Getting-Bigger One) got all excited, "my first constellation!"  Through the telescopes we were able to view Saturn and the binary star system Albireo:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, I did some night sky photography:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

While driving through Badlands National Park, we saw many different species of animals and it felt as if we were on a safari, hence the title of this trip report. (We saw many pronghorns in Badlands but I was able to get better pictures in Custer State Park - those pictures are listed under Custer State Park below).

Barn Swallow in a nest:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

More prairie dogs:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Prairie Chicken:

Prairie Chicken, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Which bolted as soon as I got out of the car to try and get a better picture:

Prairie Chicken, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Of course, there were more bison:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bighorn Sheep:

Bighorn Sheep, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bighorn Sheep, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bighorn Sheep, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Parting views:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 10 - Stop and Feed the Prairie Dogs at the Ranch Store

Not far from northeast entrance to Badlands National Park, is the Ranch Store, where you can purchase peanuts to feed the resident prairie dogs.  We all had a lot of fun interacting with and feeding the prairie dogs.  If time permits, it's a worthwhile and inexpensive stop.  Information about the Ranch Store can be found here:

http://www.badlandsranchstore.com/index.htm

Ranch Store, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ranch Store, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ranch Store, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Look at these two big fressers:

Ranch Store, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

This one preferred grass over peanuts:

Ranch Store, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hello:

Ranch Store, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Goodbye:

Ranch Store, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 11 - Custer State Park

The kids were clamoring for horseback riding, and after several searches and telephone calls, we found out that Blue Bell Stables in Custer State Park had last minute availability.  Information about Blue Bell Stables can be found here:

https://custerresorts.com/activities/activities-in-the-park/guided-trail-rides/

We opted for a one-hour trail ride, and this time I decided to come along.  I was thinking that an hour ride was too short, but after it was over, I finally realized why cowboys walk funny.  An hour ride was definitely sufficient for city slickers like us. 

Blue Bell Stables, Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

For last year's horseback riding adventure, Little One's horse was controlled by the guide.  This year he rode his horse, Indigo, all by himself, and did great.  Middle Kid rode One Spot, DW rode Casper, and I rode Wyatt. Oldest sat this one out.  While the other horses seemed to be well behaved, Wyatt was a handful.  DW was riding ahead of me, and Wyatt would trot right up to Casper's tuchus, only to be smacked in the face by Casper's tail.  Well, Wyatt ended up getting his revenge.  When the ride was just about over, Wyatt went right up to Casper and bit him right in the tuchus.  Middle Kid, riding behind Little One, said that Indigo was the world's fartiest horse.

Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

After our horseback riding adventure, we drove through Custer State Park.  We saw pronghorn, herds of bison, and many more prairie dogs. 

Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs of some beautiful pronghorn:

Pronghorn in Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Pronghorn, Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

If you've noticed, many of the animals in the photos are looking straight at the camera and this isn't a coincidence.  That's because I have a super power where I can make almost any animal look.  Just don't ask the kids what I do as they would be quite embarrassed.

We then continued driving the picturesque Needles Highway:

Needles Highway, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Needles Highway, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Needles Highway, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Needles Highway, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Needles Highway, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Needles Highway, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Needles Highway, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 12 - Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

We visited the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, which had an interesting exhibit on the cold war.  (I'm surprised the woke folks haven't petitioned to change the name of the site to Minuteperson Missile National Historic Site.)  During the Cold War, a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles were placed in the Great Plains. The missiles were hidden in plain sight for thirty years.  During that time, 1,000 missiles were kept on constant alert; only hundreds remain today.  Information about the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/mimi/index.htm

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Visiting the Delta 09 site which has a Minuteman II missile.  Information about this site can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/mimi/planyourvisit/visiting-launch-facility-missile-silo-delta-09.htm

Minuteman Missile NHS Delta 09, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Minuteman Missile NHS Delta 09, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Minuteman Missile NHS Delta 09, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Minuteman Missile NHS Delta 09, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Minuteman Missile NHS Delta 09, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 13 - Deadwood and its Surprising Jewish History

Some folks might think that Deadwood is only famous for gunslinger Wild Bill Hickock (who was assassinated in Deadwood) and infamous personality Calamity Jane, but it also has a very rich Jewish history.  One of its famous Jewish pioneer residents, Sol Star, was the owner of a hardware store and served as the mayor of Deadwood.  Sol Star also established the Deadwood Flour Mill with partners Ben Baer and Harris Franklin, two other early Jewish Deadwood pioneers. It was said that as long as Sol Star was with the company, no one in Deadwood ever went hungry.  There are stories of Sol Star frequently giving away sacks of flour to customers he knew could not pay, though some claim these accounts were settled at the polls.  Sol Star's funeral was reportedly the largest and most extravagant ever held in Deadwood, some saying suitable for a President.  However, Star was not buried at Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.  His body was transported to St. Louis, Missouri where he was laid to rest in New Mount Sinai Cemetery.

Sol Star by P Bryan, on Flickr

Harris Franklin, another famous Jewish pioneer, was largely responsible for the construction of the Franklin Hotel in Deadwood.  He changed his name to Franklin from Finkelstein because who would come stay at "Finkelstein's Hotel"?  Franklin has the largest monument in the Mt. Moriah cemetery.

Harris Franklin by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Franklin Hotel:

Franklin Hotel, Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Another Jewish resident, Jacob Goldberg, owned a grocery store in Deadwood.  When Calamity Jane died, she left a balance on Goldberg’s Grocery’s account books.

There were many more Jewish Deadwood pioneers with stories to be told, and plenty of resources to research for those who are interested.

We took a tour of Deadwood with "Kevin Costner's Original Tour of Deadwood."  The tour takes place on an old school bus, which takes you through town and to Mt. Moriah Cemetery.  Information about this tour can be found here:

http://www.deadwoodtour.com/

When we arrived at Mt. Moriah Cemetery, I asked to visit the Jewish section.  The bus driver/tour guide told me to walk up the hill, and I had a chance to visit the Jewish section of Mt. Moriah while he was busy with the rest of the group at Wild Bill Hickock's and Calamity Jane's graves. 

Marker discussing Deadwood Jewish history:

Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The chair that Wild Bill was supposedly sitting in when he was assassinated:

Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Saloon where Wild Bill was assassinated:

Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sign showing where the assassin of Wild Bill Hickok was caught:

Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Grave of Wild Bill Hickok:

Grave of Wild Bill Hickok, Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Grave of Calamity Jane:

Grave of Calamity Jane, Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Grave of Harris Franklin at Mt. Moriah Cemetery - it's the largest in the cemetery:

Harris Franklin Grave, Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Site of the original Goldberg's grocery store, before it moved to 18th Ave in Brooklyn (just kidding):

Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We stayed for a street shootout, but the drama we saw had just one gunshot.  Based on a true incident that happened in Deadwood, the drama we saw was about the shooting of David Lunt, who was shot in the forehead yet managed to get up and walk off.  He died 67 days later of an infection in his brain.

Deadwood, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 14 - A Detour Into Wyoming to Devils Tower

Since Devil's Tower in Wyoming wasn't terribly far from South Dakota, it was a worthwhile detour and the kids were able to check another state off their list of states visited. 

Welcome To Wyoming, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Information about Devils Tower can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/deto/index.htm

We walked on a trail around the tower as that is pretty much all there is to do, unless you're a climber:

Devils Tower, Wyoming by P Bryan, on Flickr

Devils Tower, Wyoming by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 15 - Rushmore Tramway Adventures

The kids wanted to do some amusement type activities, so we opted to visit Rushmore Tramway Adventures, which has an extensive rope course along with other fun activities.  We would not recommend this activity for young children, as some of the rope courses might be a bit too much.  Information about Rushmore Tramway Adventures can be found here:

https://rushmoretramwayadventures.com/

Rushmore Tramway Adventures, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rushmore Tramway Adventures, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rushmore Tramway Adventures, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 16 - Old MacDonald's Farm

We drove by this farm several times, and after looking through some brochures, decided it looked like fun.  And it was! Our visit to this farm did not disappoint.  We all had a great time and if you love animals, it's a very worthwhile visit.  As an added bonus, there was a County Fair going on and the place was fairly deserted.  Except for a handful of other visitors, we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. Information about Old MacDonald's Farm can be found here:

https://www.oldmacdonaldsfarmrc.com/

Goat Bridge with Feeding Pully:

Old Macdonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Old Macdonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding and playing with the goats:

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding an alpaca:

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Holding little chicks - one of our favorite activities:

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

This little one really enjoyed being coddled:

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Petting the horses:

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding a lamb:

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding a Scottish Highland Longhorn:

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding a calf:

Old MacDonald's Farm, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 17 - Conclusion

And this brings an end to our Dakota adventures.  We all had a great time and found the Dakotas to be full of pleasant surprises.  Two weeks felt as if it was too short as we ran out of time and couldn't do everything we wanted.  Perhaps we will pass through another time. 

Interesting facts and odds and ends about this trip:

1. States visited - 4 (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming);
2. Miles driven - 2616 miles;
3. Number of annoying Wall Drug signs counted between Rapid City and Badlands National Park - 64 signs in 42 miles.
4. Before Shabbos, we visited a book store to buy reading material for the kids, and guess what Little One picked out:

Something Fishy Book by P Bryan, on Flickr

And that's a wrap.  Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this trip report.



« Last Edit: September 08, 2022, 11:34:15 PM by PBaruch »
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Offline yitzgar

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2022, 11:39:56 PM »
Thanks ! What a great tr

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2022, 11:48:13 PM »
Great report like always!

Interestingly I was just discussing today how to arrange tevilas keilim for someone in North Dakota.
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2022, 12:12:26 AM »
Fantastic TR as always.

And I'll second the sentiment: South Dakota is incredible and absolutely worth a visit (haven't made it out to ND yet though).
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Offline Yehoshua

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2022, 01:08:33 AM »
Wow, great TR! It almost makes me want to visit the Dakotas (I really do to get all 50 states, but I still have a ways to go for that only having visited 35/50 and DC so far).

Offline Sam 77

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2022, 01:19:17 AM »
Love the book he picked @Something Fishy!

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2022, 01:22:51 AM »
Thanks. Always like reading your TRs.

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2022, 01:42:49 AM »
Amazing TR

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2022, 06:55:27 AM »
My attention span is like 30 seconds but always enjoy your TR's.
The progression of the sunflower pics was great. I can see the next movie "Attack of the sunflowers".  :)
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Offline Joel

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2022, 08:51:55 AM »
Great TR Thanks!

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2022, 09:10:37 AM »
Great TR. Very comprehensive — we almost feel like we are there. Excellent photos!
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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2022, 02:23:11 PM »
Great TR.

Your son knows how to pick books.  ;D
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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2022, 02:25:01 PM »

If you've noticed, many of the animals in the photos are looking straight at the camera and this isn't a coincidence.  That's because I have a super power where I can make almost any animal look.  Just don't ask the kids what I do as they would be quite embarrassed.





can we ask you? ;D

Offline PBaruch

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2022, 03:21:21 PM »
My attention span is like 30 seconds but always enjoy your TR's.
The progression of the sunflower pics was great. I can see the next movie "Attack of the sunflowers".  :)

I have several friends who have the attention span of a 2 year old (and that's being generous).  This TR was written with these friends in mind.   :P




can we ask you? ;D


Amm....I think I will take this one to the grave.
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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2022, 07:20:01 PM »
Thanks for writing up this trip report! ND and SD are 2 of my last 3 states that I have not yet visited. This will be a great reference for when I get there.

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2022, 08:24:38 PM »
Did not take a chance to read but looks amazing. Too small to be insignificant; I think it will be enjoyed by all on DDF.... especially those here with a goal to go to all 50!

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2022, 08:15:27 AM »
Amazing TR as always.
There are lots of places “in our own backyard” that get overlooked in favor of foreign destinations. This is a great reminder of why it’s called “America the beautiful”.

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2022, 10:08:43 AM »
We took a family trip to South Dakota in June and loved it. Your pictures brought back a lot of good memories, thanks.

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Re: American Safari in the Dakotas, by PBaruch (August 2022)
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2022, 08:59:32 PM »
Amazing TR and loved the pics!