I like big cities. I was born and raised in Chicago and need the noise, the arts, the feeling of vanishing in a crowd of people. I like that I can walk outside in sweats and tangled hair and no one will say anything because ‘did you see that guy with the monocle? or the parrot lady?’ Or ‘old Larry is drunk again!’
So I was surprised to find myself head-over-boots (get it?) for South Dakota.
What I pictured:
A boring prairie-scape, crooked sod houses, and giant bawls of twine.
What South Dakota Actually is:
Anything but boring.
A breathtaking state full of friendly people. In March, the grass was thick and heavy like an animal pelt. The sky was a vibrant cornflower blue. But it’s not a gentle place. Even the grass hisses. The bare silver branches of dead trees stick up everywhere. South Dakota would be an ideal setting for a movie set in a futuristic distopia.
But to me, the prairie is a different kind of paradise. I saw my first wild buffalo. I waved to a group of prairie dogs and they waved back. It was absolutely amazing. Not a Starbucks on the horizon. I felt like revoking my city-slicker “I-lived-abroad” license and setting up stakes right outside the entrance to the Badlands.
Speaking of the Badlands:
Why had I never visited before? I always thought of it as more of a family vacation, the kind you rent an RV for. And it is. But it’s also something everyone can marvel at. I’ll never forget the way the wind caressed my cheeks, the moonscape, the narrow roads snaking through colorful rock formations. Hands down one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
More South Dakota Photos
Now I understand the meaning of deadwood.
Put it on your bucket list. Tell ’em I sent ya.