Sunday, December 13, 2020

My South Dakota~~Pambling Roads

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 Pambling Roads ~~ South Dakota

Pambling Roads, Meeting the Americans brings us to South Dakota. Excitement has slowly been building for us. South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana are the settings used in my Wilderness Series. The time travel historical fiction tells the story of a young doctor who finds herself in the middle of Sioux country. I’ve dreamed of the area, felt as if I was standing on the very soil that Sitting Bull, Gall, and Crazy Horse tread. Seeing everything, feeling the earth underneath my feet, walking the trails was inspiring for me. To be on the very soil that I wrote about, only imagined in my head, and now being there, was thrilling.


Pactola Dam and Reservoir

On our way to Deadwood, we passed a home that had their trees painted and decorated with different designs. It looked awesome! I wish I had gotten a picture of it.

Deadwood, South Dakota  

We stayed at the Best Western Hickok. We had a wonderful room and great, attentive employees. They were, in our mid-west tour, the best crew all around that we have met.

At the Hickok House restaurant, Gary was our waiter the first night, excellent all around, great food great service. Our last night we stayed at the hotel we had Alexa. She too was top-notch along with the food. We definitely recommend eating at this restaurant.

Later that night went played around at the Gambling Emporium and decided to sit for a few drinks. They serve beer and wine which was just fine with us. We chatted with the bartender, Sue, met her husband, Dan, when he came for a cup of coffee before he went off to work. We met another gentleman who was in town working for Boeing, a couple from Illinois. It was a very relaxing atmosphere. All the employees were happy and you could see it by the atmosphere they created. They are a perfect example of how someone can be professional, proficient, and friendly. Conversations started with recommendations on what to see, Bridal Veil Falls, Buffalo Jump, Devil’s Tower, Harney Peak were several places mentioned. Devil’s Tower was in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”      

We stopped at Deadwood’s historic Boot Hill where we were able to visit the grave sites of Calamity Jane (Martha Canary) and Wild Bill Hickok (James Butler Hickok). We learned about Potato Creek Johnny, a colorful character and prospector who was very well known and loved among the community. Another name you may be familiar with if you have some knowledge of western lore, Seth Bullock is buried there. He was a sheriff in Deadwood, a Rough Rider, and was also friends with Theodore Roosevelt.

Deadwood’s historical section is an historical or western lover’s dream. It doesn’t have the same feel as Tombstone, Arizona but has its own western feel and it was wonderful walking and driving around the old western town full of history. If you like to play at the casinos, they have some great places to go.

Deadwood has a trolley bus. The trolley bus runs all day and late into the evening, cost is $1 per ride. The trolley bus stops at the hotels to pick up guests, and circles the area stopping at many locations in town.

We were planning to do laundry but there was a sign on the door that it was closed due to repairs. Disappointed we started back to our room. I believe it was the manager/owner who approached us apologizing and letting us know that a repairman would be there that day. We chatted for a bit and then he went on his way. As promised, the dryer was taken care of a few hours later, our laundry was done, and we were good-to-go.


Custer, South Dakota


We stayed at the Best Western where it was clean and comfy. The pool was huge and it has a great hot tub. The continental breakfast was definitely a good meal.


Crazy Horse Monument


The world’s largest mountain carving, the Crazy Horse Monument was absolutely mind blowing. After all the research, I have done for my historical fiction, reading about the Sioux, studying about their culture, I was still fascinating watching it all happen before my eyes. I have seen Native dancers, but watching it with Crazy Horse in the background, it wasn’t quite the same. There was a specialness about the whole encounter.      

The scale model of the projected monument that Korczak Ziolkowski created was inspiring. (Ziolkowski also worked on Mount Rushmore)

There is so much to see at this site that it would take days to take it all in and every moment would be filled with wonder. Most of our time was spent in the museums. It amazed us when we learned that fragments from the blast of the Crazy Horse Monument were used to build the Native American Educational and Cultural Center.


Custer State Park

This park is huge and we spent hours enjoying every square inch we could. We started with Needle Highway Scenic Drive. The cliffs and the twists and turns were a bit white knuckling but boy was it worth it. Everyone was taking their time, enjoying the scenery. No one was in a hurry, no one was being pushy, and it was very exciting. Once done with the mountainous cliffs we turned onto Wildlife Loop Road and off we were to a different world.

We saw deer, prairie dogs, pronghorns, burros, numerous variety of birds, and numerous buffalo! I did drive with the window open calling “Here kitty, kitty… Kitty!” Alas, we saw no kitties.


Four Mile Old West Ghost Town/Moss City

Over fifty old original local buildings set up in a town atmosphere, a real boardwalk, furnishings that were original to most of the buildings all in a unique western town that was called Four Mile or Moss City. It is where people came in from Custer to house and water their horses, get water for themselves, purchase necessary wares from the mercantile and then head back to Custer. It is filled with an abundance of western history and some unique antiques that are rare and hard to find.

They found original walls from a stockade or possible small military fort that was built near the fresh water spring and they have reconstructed what they could to make it appear as it was in the late 1800’s. We chatted with Kathy for a while and learned quite a bit about the area.


Mount Rushmore         

Wow. It just flabbergasts me that these men could envision a huge rock and create such splendor from it. Between the Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore, it was difficult not to stare with my mouth open. From the Avenue of Flags to the Grand View Terrace to the Presidential Trail, every step we took felt ceremonious, an excellent tribute to the great leaders of our country.

We met with Don “Nick” Clifford who worked on Mount Rushmore from 1938 to 1940. He was having a book signing at one of the gift shops. We purchased a copy and he signed it for us. While Mr. Clifford was working on Mount Rushmore, his wife compiled information and the two wrote a Q & A book about Mount Rushmore.

Questions like:

Why are the holes in the honeycomb rock different shapes?

What does baseball have to do with Mount Rushmore?

What was the worst accident?


The Flintstones Theme Park


Yabba-dabba-dooooooooo. Flintstones, meet the Flintstones. They’re the modern Stone Age family…


Yes, we did! We took the train ride and then walked around the complex. We checked out all the Stone Age homes, statues, vehicles, etc. We stopped at the theatre, bought some popcorn, and enjoyed watching some Flintstone shows.

They even have a Stone Age Drive-In where you can sit down and have a meal: Brontoburgers, fries, Dino Dogs, ice cream treats, etc.

If you like to camp, they have a camping resort, full service park for tents, or full hook-ups, and camping cabins.


1881 Custer County Courthouse Museum


Custer is the oldest city in South Dakota. The courthouse was used for 92 years. When the new building was constructed, the historical society took over the old courthouse in 1976 and made it into a museum.


It is filled with exhibits from the farming and mining industry, Native American artifacts and history, the courtroom, the original jail, and a few memorabilia from WW1 and WW2. The ladies at the museum who greet you when you walk in were wonderful. They were full of information about the town and happy to answer our questions. We chatted for a while exchanging information about our different towns and lifestyles.


The Flick Cabin


The cabin is the first original home that was built in 1875 and was used as a residence and military headquarters.


Miner’s Mercantile


A smorgasbord of every rock and mineral you would possibly desire. We walked out of there with a handful of goodies. The employees were friendly and were happy to answer our questions about the different rocks and minerals in the area.


Pizza Works


Great pizza, great service, friendly employees, it is open in the summer months only. Is it the best pizza in town? We think so. We can honestly say that it was top-rated. It was one of the best pizzas we have ever eaten and we know our pizza!


Dakota Cowboy Café


Good food, good service, we would recommend it to anyone coming to the area.


It was recommended by a few people to see the Grand Magic Show but we ran out of time.


Thank you for taking the time to continue to read Pambling Roads. I appreciate the emails and comments. I love to hear from readers.


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 Have you been to any of the places I have mentioned? Do you have stories to tell as well? We want to hear them. Do you live in any of the areas I have written about? There is a comment section below and on all the Pambling Roads article pages for you to tell us all about it.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our adventures traveling the United States. Our goal? The 48 states! I tried, really I did, I tried really hard to get my husband to agree to drive to Alaska. I didn't win that one. Maybe the next time.

It has been a great adventure, meeting the Americans, and meeting people from all over the world. Share with us, we want to hear all about it! Take advantage of comment section below and tell us your stories

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