Good Day in the Badlands 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Friday night I stayed at Dan Iversen’s motel, The Iverson Inn in Murdo, SD. If you are ever out this way, please do stop and stay there. Dan keeps everything tidy and in good repair. The bed was very comfortable, clean, fresh, fluffy towel, clean shower and bathroom. You will find the rooms clean and cozy. Plus Dan can direct you to sites to see and other things of interest. He grew up on a ranch outside of Murdo and knows the territory.  

First thing this morning Dan drove me out to his mother’s ranch north of town. As we traveled out on the gravel road, he told me more about growing up there and that things out at the ranch were a bit in disarray. His mother is living out there alone, but the ranch/farm needs a lot of tender loving care. A huge windstorm last year caused a lot of damage including completely blowing several large metal grain bins off their bases and out into the area around. Two sheds received lots of damages also. The amount of work that needs to be done to clean the place up is monumental.

Other than that there are a multitude of cars parked out in some sheds and others down a hill exposed to the elements. With his business which is 24/7 he has little time to tackle the problem.

The land we drove through out to the ranch, about 5 miles from town, was a part of the family holdings, of which his grandfather had 16,000 acres! I was so taken by the scenery that I had him stop several times so that I could try to capture the scenes.

Before I left, Dan dropped me off at the Pioneer Auto Show an enormous collection of vintage vehicles, tractors, motorcycles and collections of hundreds of miscellaneous things, from toy cars, pipes, washing machines, cream seperators, wood stoves - just about anything you could imagine is displayed throughout several buildings. Having reached my saturation point looking at all those collections, I returned to Iverson Inn and got further directions and suggestions for sights to see. I left Murdo with more sightseeing  ideas than I ever imagined I’d find. 

Driving West, I was buffeted by strong winds out of the North/ Northwest. This is a regular occurance here in these parts and it lasted all day. With practically nothing to block it, the stiff breezes swept across the land, grasses and sparse trees bending to its will, slamming broadside into the highway traffic. Semi trucks and large motor homes, were at times reduced to nearly a crawl as their drivers held tight reins on the steering wheels. Smaller vehicles such as mine were easier to control, but the wind’s force let me know this was a power to be reckoned with.


Going out to the Iversen Ranch

In the late 19th, early 20th centuries this land was homesteaded by hardy, determined folks, their desire to have land of their own to farm and tend so that they could raise families and create a future for the following generations. Not all those pioneers were successful. One remaining homestead has been restored and is open for view with its’ sod house partially built into a hillside. These homes were warm and cozy in winters and cool in summers. You might say these are versions of “Earth Homes”. Nearby would be a storm/storage cellar where residents were able to seek shelter from severe storms and as a larder for their food stuffs. Barns were traditionally built to house livestock. Those folks had to have determination, strong backs and an immense desire to succeed. 

The Badlands is a sizeable area that is highlighted by the rock formations left behind after many millennia of the earth formation. A loop drive allows for many stops for closer examination of and exploration within the areas. I allowed for a short stay that included a marked trail hike with some incredible views down into the rugged terrain.

This is a worthwhile place to stop and see. It gets an A+. 

Wall Drugs was next on my list, having heard about it over the years and constantly reminded of it by highway signage all along I-90. If you ever get out to South Dakota, skip Wall Drug. The town’s name is Wall and this is just a gigantic store of various knick knacks, t-shirts, souvenirs, and other worthless junk. It is a huge tourist trap luring in people by the thousands. My stop there was brief, only extended by the single purchase of an ice cream cone. Wall Drugs gets a D on my report card.

Then, on to Rapid City from where I planned to launch down to Mt. Rushmore. But along the highway, I stopped to check room availability and found what rooms were open were far too expensive. I found one in Keystone, right by Mt. Rushmore that was acceptable in price. Plus the desk clerk told me they have a view of the carvings from their outdoor patio. I’ll check that claim in the morning. It’s good I’m here, this close to Mt. Rushmore, as it will cut driving time down from Rapid City. There are a ton of tourists here and not surprising, as it is a weekend nearing the end of summer vacations.

However, I did, first, go to Rapid City to check out my friend Ernie’s suggestion to stop and see his brother in law’s stone sculptures for which the city commisioned him to create in their center square. The sculptures are cut into granite and are interspersed around the center’s perimeter. Rapid City surprised me, as has much of South Dakota, finding the downtown simply abuzz with activity - Sidewalk dining, street musicians, people strolling about, kids playing in a spurting fountain on the green and generally a very friendly, relaxed and enjoyable place on a Saturday afternoon. I wished I could have lingered awhile, but evening was fast approaching and I needed to drive further to Keystone to this night’s motel. It was dark shortly after I settled in. 

Tomorrow, I will see Mt. Rushmore and other places of interest here, drive through the Black Hills and find some of the places suggested by Dan. I should be going through Deadwood and may even get to Devil’s Tower in nearby Wyoming by day’s end. If not I will just go with the flow and see where the winds take me.

Prairie Dogs

u © Donald E. Kline 2012