South Dakota – Days 1-3: Presidential Faces, Natural Wonders, and Awesome Artists

Brittany Swanson   April 11, 2016   Comments Off on South Dakota – Days 1-3: Presidential Faces, Natural Wonders, and Awesome Artists

I left Colorado super early on Friday morning so I could beat the snowstorm that was supposed to hit Rapid City, SD that night. It started raining when I was about forty minutes away and started snowing right after I’d safely made it to my host’s house. Whew.

My host had to go to work that evening and I’d planned to work on my blog, but instead I chatted on FaceTime with Alex. When my host got off work he told me a friend of his sister’s had gotten stuck in town and didn’t feel safe driving home, so he had offered to let him stay with us as well. Another Couchsurfer who lives in Rapid City came over to hang out and the four of us sat around joking and having a good time until about two a.m. at which point I hit my wall and went to bed. Apparently the rest of them stayed up until five! Yikes!

The next morning my host was posing as a model for an art class. While he was gone I worked on my blog. About five minutes after I finished working my host came home and we went to visit Mount Rushmore. But first we stopped at Black Hills Bagel to get lunch. Yum!

Mount Rushmore was smaller than I remembered from when I was a kid. I think I might have been closer? Also, I guess I was smaller then… I was a little disappointed because it had recently snowed, and when the snow melted the water dripped down the Presidents’ faces and made it look like there were giant cracks in their faces. Lame.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, SD.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, SD.

After a few quick pictures at Mount Rushmore we drove into Custer State Park to go for a hike, since all the trails around Mount Rushmore were closed for the winter. The winding driving and bluegrass music we were listening to made us all sleepy. When we made it to the trailhead my host was like, all those in favor of taking a nap before our hike: and he and I both raised our hands. The other girl laughed and we agreed to take a group nap in the car before going on our hike. I asked if anyone had set an alarm because we probably shouldn’t sleep more than a half hour.

An hour later, the other girl and I both woke up at the same time. Whoops. We ended up only having time to go for a quick jaunt around the lake, but the trail was pretty snowy so it was still fun. We also took a break to climb up some rocks and enjoy the view from there. The lake was called Sylvan Lake. It’s really beautiful.

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota.

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota.

That night I was staying with a different host. My host that night had five other surfers staying with him! Two American girls, who were road tripping from Maine to Oregon and a Chinese family road tripping from somewhere in Canada to Calgary. The American girls made Easter dinner for everyone on Saturday night. It was delicious. They even made two different kinds of pie and homemade whipped cream! One pie was strawberry rhubarb apple, and the other was chocolate banana Reese’s. So good.

The next morning we had breakfast, including leftover pie.Then I headed off to check out the Badlands. I spent most of the day out there. It’s really awesome, kind of like the Grand Canyon only on a smaller scale, but still super cool and random considering the rest of the South Dakota landscape. I wrote some postcards and at one point got a little stuck in the mud. I was trying to take a picture of this cool rock formation and rather than turning around when I realized the ground was not-so-solid and in fact quite clay-like, I continued forward and got into even deeper clay. Whoops. It was pretty funny though and resulted in me running and sliding and laughing on my way back to the car.

The Badlands, South Dakota.

The Badlands, South Dakota.

Before heading back to my host’s house after the Badlands I drove around Rapid City, which has a cool downtown area. I had just decided not to stop and wander around since everything was closed, when I saw a cool mural on a wall. I wanted to get a picture of it so I parked the car and walked back to it. Since I was already out of the car I decided to do a lap around the block, just to see what was around. As I was walking I saw some cool street art on the side of a building and then I realized there was a whole alley of street art. It was by far the coolest discovery I’ve made on my trip thus far. So freaking awesome!

Street art in Art Alley, Rapid City, SD.

Street art in Art Alley, Rapid City, SD.

Later I made it back to my host’s house, had dinner, worked on a few things and went to bed. The next morning I drove to Sioux Falls, SD. I have no memory of ever being there, prior to this trip, but the waterfalls were quite nice and the weather was beautiful. I had a lovely time before finishing my journey back to Minnesota.

Sioux Falls, SD.

Sioux Falls, SD.