Mad Men in a Tipi

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did
Devils Tower National Monument

Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Today we head to South Dakota. But first, it's time to get clean.

We haven’t showered in a few days and we feel pretty disgusting. We don’t know if other people can smell us, but we think we can. Six bucks seemed steep for trucker restrooms, but once we’re clean, we realize it was worth every penny.

Hopefully we’ll find a campground where we can also do some laundry.

We drive through a few more small towns in Wyoming and pass by a huge herd of sheep, which were hilarious and very entertaining (see video).

Before leaving Wyoming, we stop by Devils Tower where our National Parks pass comes in handy once again. This monument is pretty impressive and surrounded by trees, with more elk and what seem to be a million prairie dogs living in their little towns. These guys were also very entertaining – chasing each other in and out of their little holes in the ground, making high-pitched barking noises, constantly skittish and continuously scouring the ground for food (see video).

We continue on to Custer, South Dakota where we’ll be visiting the Crazy Horse Monument and Mt. Rushmore. Our first stop in town is Crazy Horse. It’s all created from private funds and donations and has been a work in progress since 1948. Bret visited it with his grandparents almost 20 years ago and he’s interested in seeing the progress. But nowadays, it's $27 per car, so we just take a picture from the turnaround point just inside the park.

As we leave the monument, the clouds get darker and it starts to rain. We figure it'd be better to sleep in someone else's tent, so we search for tipis in the area...and sure enough we find a great family campground with two tipis available. Plus, the campground has laundry, so we throw in two loads to try to get rid of that campfire smell.

The tipis are about 18 feet in diameter and the wooden floors are covered with a lining to keep bugs out. There’s a hole right at the top in the center, but it's designed in a way to let the rain drip down the poles holding up the tipi.

On our way to the market to grab a few more supplies, we drive past the only wine bar in town. It turns out they offer six different wine tastings for only $5...and we can’t pass that up.

We probably spend an hour there and we definitely taste more than six wines. The sommelier tells us about each wine, what goes into making them and describes the regions in Oregon and Washington where their grapes are grown. Since we just drove through both of the states, we’re familiar with the territory. It feels so good to be in a wine bar – our first since San Francisco.

We also learn from her that people in Wyoming call buffalo bison, and people in South Dakota call bison buffalo, though you should consult Justin H. if you want the whole story re: those beasts. So now we know.

She also gives us tips on where to fish in the area and tells us Center Lake (in the middle of Custer State Park) is a pretty good spot to catch some trout. We’ll be driving through Custer State Park tomorrow on our way to Mt. Rushmore, so we make a mental note to stop by.

It’s still raining with bits of lightning when we get back to the tipi, so we figure there won’t be a big fire tonight. Instead, we heat up some water for pasta and eat it indoors. And since there’s no fire, we figure it’s about time to whip out an episode of MAD MEN!

We really haven’t watched television in about a month, but the one show we miss is Mad Men.

We pour some more wine and huddle around our laptop, listening to the sound of the rain beating on the canvas and soaking up the dialogue in this episode. It makes us feel a little bit reconnected with our former lives in California, and at the same time it makes us look forward to starting new ones in a new apartment in New York with our TV and hopefully a cable plan that includes AMC.
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