Friday, June 7, 2013

Rock Formations and a Rock Star Fossil

Thought for the day: Contrary to what you may have heard, people who live in South Dakota don't have Southern accents.


[source]
Remember the old Roger Miller song, You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd? I reckon folks who live on the Standing Butte Ranch near Pierre, South Dakota, don't do much skating then, because there's TONS (literally!) of buffalo roaming around there. Matter of fact, it's home to the largest buffalo herd in the United States. I'm sure they're, um, quite friendly, but frankly, I'd roll up my car window when riding in the area.

Okay, no surprise here. We're gonna be taking a virtual tour of the fine state of South Dakota today. Don't let 'em fool ya, either... just because one if its nicknames is The Sunshine State doesn't mean it's a tropical paradise. (Another of its nicknames is The Blizzard State.) But there's a good chance someone who lives there may try to convince you that they're the warmer Dakota. So fine. Take your sunblock, but don't forget your sweater and snowshoes.

In the truth is funnier than fiction category: Once upon a time, a Black Hills gold miner named his new, and very promising, claim after a neighbor's daughter, and called it Little Allie. His wife wasn't impressed. In fact, she was furious, because he'd never named a claim after her.  So she put her foot down, by golly, and insisted that he change the name, and rectify the situation at once. He did. He changed the name to... The Holy Terror. Guess what? It's still known by that name today. (Ya think it satisfied the wife?)

                                                 Okay, ready to do some looking around?

Mount Rushmore is one of the most famous and readily recognized sites in South Dakota. This impressive carving of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln was started in 1927, and took fourteen years to complete, at a total cost of one million dollars. (Fast and cheap by today's standards.)


Nearby is another ambitious work in progress that isn't progressing nearly as fast, because unlike Mount Rushmore, it's being funded by donations alone. When completed, the mountain carving of Crazy Horse will be the world's largest sculpture. His head alone is nine stories tall, and took fifty years to complete. (1948-98)  This carving of the iconic Lakota warrior and tribal leader is the focal point of an educational and cultural museum to and for Native Americans, many of whom call South Dakota home.

The Badlands National Park covers 244,000 square acres, and encompasses buttes, pinnacles, spires, and the country's largest protected mixed grass prairie. In other words, lots of natural wonders of nature to enjoy. Although the terrain is rather inhospitable looking, it contains a unique kind of beauty. Care to take a look-see?



Can you imagine what a cave lined with calcite crystals like these would look like when the light shines on them? Then you can understand how Jewel Cave got its name. It's the second largest cave in the world, with more than 157 miles of surveyed passages. (So far.)

 This unusual mineral formation, in which thin strips of calcite intersect kinda like a honeycomb, is called boxwork. Wind Cave, with 82 miles of mapped passages, contains the world's largest known display of these rare formations.


And here we have a formation of an entirely different type. Not so much minerals as it is iron, lots of shiny iron and deep-voiced throbbing Harley engines. This, of course, is Sturgis, home of the annual Black Hills Motorcycle Rally. Held the first week in August, this gathering of upwards of 650,000 motorcycle enthusiasts may include hill climbs and other racing events, but it's essentially a 15-day party, and THE place to be for freedom of the road celebrants from all over the world.


South Dakota isn't just a mammoth gathering place for bikers. It was once a massive gathering place for... mammoths... as well as other prehistoric behemoths. The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, a museum and paleontology site, contains the only in situ display of mammoth fossils, both Columbian and woolly,  in America.


Another famous paleontology site can be found in Faith, where this tyrannosaurus rex... dubbed Sue...  was discovered by paleontologist Sue Henderson in 1990.  Measuring forty-two feet long, and fourteen feet to the hip, this is one of the largest, and most complete and well-preserved T. rex  specimens ever found. In 1997, Sue was sold at auction to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago for 7.7 million dollars.

In addition to all the caves, geological formations, and fossils, South Dakota has something else rather unique. (Sounds pretty darned unique to me, anyway!)  You've heard of artesian wells, and you've heard of natural gas, but have you ever heard of a fountain fed by an artesian well that contains so much natural gas, it can be ignited? The Flaming Fountain, located on State Capitol Lake, is a memorial to all veterans. Some sources called the flame perpetual, but evidently, it must go out upon occasion, as you can see in this video, where someone is re-lighting the watery flame:





Ooh, look! A museum full of petrified wood! My kinda entry price, too.



Lest you think South Dakota is long on fossils and short on fun, check out this place. It's the Corn Palace, and yes, it's built with 3500 bushels of ear corn. It was first built in 1892, and later rebuilt in 1905 and 1921. The minarets were added in 1937. Actually the whole thing isn't made out of corn, but the murals on the outside walls, which are changed a couple times a year, are.


Hey, with all that corn, you've gotta have some potatoes, right? How about a visit to Clark, where they celebrate Potato Days every year,  complete with... mashed potato wrestling:


                                                                 What? No gravy?

Okay, let's wipe off the potatoes and take a look at some of the crazy laws still on the books in the fine state of South Dakota. Guess what? There aren't very many of them...



  • If there are more than five Native Americans on your property, you may shoot them.
  • Horses are only permitted in Fountain Inn if they are wearing pants.
  • It's illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory.
  • It's against the law to show movies in which police officers are struck, beaten, or treated in an offensive manner.
  • In Spearfish, if three or more Indians are walking down the street together, they can be considered a war party, and fired upon. 
I told ya! South Dakota has the fewest loony laws of all the states we've visited so far. (But don't worry; Tennessee— the next state we'll be exploring— more than makes up for it.)

                                           Okay, it's now time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

It's been a while, but after spending several hours browsing through online newspapers, I didn't find a whole lot of weirdest news stories, but I definitely found some strange. 

  • While one cat was detained in Russia for being used to smuggle contraband into a prison, designer Karl Lagerfeld announced that he wants to marry his cat.
  • A hot and thirsty burglar helped himself to a few beers from the fridge while he was robbing a house in New York this week. Nice of him to leave his DNA behind on the empty cans. Needless to say, he's gonna have plenty of time to chill... in the cooler.
  • An Idaho woman celebrated her 103rd birthday by base jumping off a bridge this week. A 105-year-old New Zealand man still drives a car, and says he doesn't feel old at all, but this oldster takes the cake. Literally. In Australia, centenarian Cassius celebrated his 110th birthday with a cake made out of... chicken necks. Ate it faster than a speeding bullet, too. Yeah, you got me. That's a big croc. (According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest saltwater crocodile in captivity.)
  • In Colorado, a poor hapless moose has evidently fallen in love. He visits the object of his affections every morning, and spends most of the day, um, enjoying it. Yeah, it. It seems the poor moose is enamored with a bronze statue of a nearly life-sized moose. Guess you could say he gives a whole new meaning to statutory rape.
  • How appropriate that this story popped up this week. It seems that officials in South Dakota are finally considering renaming a dozen or so of the places around their state. Yeah, they've had those names a long time... since the 19th century... but lawmakers are thinking they may have run their course. The names? Places like Negro Gulch and Squaw Humper Dam.
Okay, two stories worthy of a pic and a little more ink:

***  Getting a publishing contract can't be all that hard. After all, a real pig recently rated a 3-book contract. No, I'm not making a slur. Really. I'm talking about an honest-to-goodness snorting, grunting, curly-tailed pig! Technically, his owner Len Lucero will be penning those books, but without a doubt, Chris P. Bacon, a paralyzed piglet, is the star attraction. Wanta see the cutie? 


***  All this fossil needs is a microphone and a guitar, and he'd look like a skinny rock star with bad teeth, wouldn't he? As it turns out, paleontologists at the University of Nebraska, who've been studying the 40-million-year-old fossil of a giant lizard discovered in Myanmar, (Burma) actually named that fossil after a rock star. Yep, they dubbed the new species Babaturex Morrisoni. Now I'm a Doors fan, but this struck me as a little... strange. Could be that paleontology team leader Jason Head is a big Doors fan, too. The paleontologists admitted to listening to their music while they worked. However, they claimed they named the critter after Jim Morrison because of the fascination he had with reptiles.Uh-huh. Makes sense. But I think I know the real reason it was named after Morrison. The giant lizard was a vegetarian. Get it? It ate... weed(s).

                                                    [Enough of a Yammy Friday for ya, Laura?]

Wait! One last thing... for those of you who have never heard of that Roger Miller song mentioned at the top of this post... or for those of you who remember it, but haven't heard it in a long time. Always nice to end with a smile.


                                          Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

                                         [Images from the fine folks at Wikipedia and Morguefile]

76 comments:

  1. I think I'm swooning from an overdose of knowledge! Let me sit down and retrieve my smelling salts. Very impressive and fascinating.
    I've been through South Dakota once - very quickly. I'm glad you slowed me down and showed me what's there.

    I remember seeing something on TV about the Corn Palace, but I forgot that it was located in S.D.
    It's staggering to think that a cave can have more than 157 miles of passages! Wow!

    South Dakota only has a few loony laws, but they sure don't seem to be very friendly towards Indians (or Native Americans - - I want to be politically correct......)

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    1. Oh, dear, we can't have you swooning. Quick! Grab a beer! (Purely for medicinal purposes. of course.)

      It's kinda strange those anti-native American laws are still on the books, considering what a large native American population lives in the state. (Hopefully, they never ENFORCE those laws, though!)

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  2. SUSAN ~
    Three years ago, some of us participated in a Blogfest titled 'FIFTEEN FANTASY ISLAND FAVORITES', in which you were required to list the 15 music albums you would pack if you were spending the rest of your life on an island with no other music to keep you company.

    One of my 15 was Roger Miller's 'GOLDEN HITS', and below is something I wrote about it:

    At times, Pa would wake me up for school by suddenly blasting the song ‘You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd’. Yup. Many’s the time that song was my “alarm clock”, yanking me out of a sound sleep and alerting me that it was time to get ready to go to school.

    Look folks, you can’t wake a kid up in the morning with a song like that and then expect that he is going to turn out “normal”. Uh-uh. Sorry, but it just ain’t gonna happen. So, if any of you have ever asked yourself: "Gee, what’s wrong with that guy Stephen?" Well, now you know. ‘You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd’ is what’s wrong with me.

    Also, SUSAN, I have frequently said that I doubt I could ever form a deep, lasting friendship with anyone who didn't love the music of Roger Miller and the TV series 'The Andy Griffith Show' (the older black and white episodes with Barney Fife). This sounds like a joke, but I really don't think it is.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. I see... verrrry interesting.

      This shows a whole different side to you. The thought of you being awakened in the morning to the sounds of "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd" totally cracks me up. I was expected to wake my own sorry self in the morning, so I had a wind-up clock that tick-tocked like Big Ben and had an alarm that could wake the dead. Any kind of music would have been a huge improvement.

      Anyhow, I love that you feel that way about Roger Miller and Andy Griffith. Because I consider both of them feel-good entertainers, I will happily conclude that you aren't quite the hard-core cynic you make yourself out to be. You, dear Stephen, have a soft spot. (And I'm glad!)

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  3. Another fascinating post. Things I didn't know (and a few I don't want to know). I am not certain whether mashed potato wrestling would be better or worse than jelly wrestling. Not as sticky perhaps?

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    1. Hmmm, mashed potatoes versus jello, huh? Well, either one of them beats mud, but I think I'd prefer the potatoes, especially if they're slightly warm and creamy. (Lumpy ones wouldn't do!) Then again, I'd really rather stay on the sidelines and watch.

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  4. I have a friend, a linguist, who works with the Lakota. It is a wildly important, more than likely largely thankless job, but his quiet, meticulous dedication to vanishing languages is inspiring.

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    1. Very cool. I suspect most modern day Lakotas don't even know the language.

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  5. Not a lot of police comedies shown in South Dakota, huh?

    If I were the wife, I would've been pretty suspicious about my husband naming his claim after the neighbor's daughter. PRETTY SUSPICIOUS!!! I don't think things got better after he named it Holy Terror, though.

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    1. Yeah, not a lot of police shows, period.

      The extent of my suspicions would very much depend on the age and attractiveness of that neighbor's daughter.

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  6. Who knew South Dakota could be so entertaining? Thanks for the amusingly informative post. *still chuckling at "statutory rape"*

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    1. Glad ya liked it. *I had a feeling you'd appreciate that one.*

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  7. I always learn so many things when visiting your page :) I think I need to add that mountain carving of Crazy Horse to my bucket list!

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    1. Thanks! Nice of you to say. (I musta been a teacher in another lifetime.)

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  8. I've always thought Mount Rushmore is one of the most impressive places on earth. apart from that, I haven't given Dakota any thought at all, didn't even know that Mount Rushmore was there, so this post was very interesting to me. I'll be back tomorrow for another read, as I'm falling asleep here....

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    1. I'm glad you found the post interesting, but sorry to put you to sleep. (I have the knack...)

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  9. Huh...when you started off your title with "rock star fossil" I was sure you were going to be writing about Mick Jagger. I'm going to have to reread this post again, there was so much information.

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    1. HA! I know what you mean. That's the perfect description for Jagger, so it's a natural conclusion.

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  10. I've been to South Dakota many times. Toured all that stuff...well, except Sturgis. Custer State Park is beautiful, though. And the bison really do roam everywhere. :)

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    1. With that spiffy haircut and shades, you've got the cool factor to fit right in at Sturgis.

      Hmmm, I dunno how I'd feel about bison roaming around everywhere. I guess you get used to it, though. I guess.

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  11. Wow! So much great stuff in this post. Love the crazy laws and weird news. And I've been to the great state of S. Dakota a couple of times yet somehow managed to miss the Corn Palace. Maybe on my next visit.

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    1. Yeah, I tend to overpack for these state tours.

      You're a couple steps ahead of me. I've never been to the Dakotas. If you ever make it to the Corn Palace, take a pic for your blog, okay?

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  12. Never heard that song but I'll never forget it now. I'd so love to see the Jewel Cave, I can't even imagine how that would look.
    And I was lucky when I brought my horse to the Fountain Inn, he was wearing his pants that day. We dodged a bullet.

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    1. HA! I like the idea of you humming that song all day. (Catchy, isn't it?)

      Yep, lucky. Don't wanta mess with those folks in Fountain Inn!

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  13. Those are definitely some crazy laws. I should look up and see what kind of ridiculousness is still on the books in my state.

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    1. Oh, Maine has a lot of wacko laws, too. If you want to see them, check out my post from January 13, 2012.

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  14. I enjoyed looking at the first pictures. It looks like a great place to visit. I would definitely roll up my windows, though. Are bison like goats - do they eat anything?

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    1. HA! I dunno if they eat everything like goats do, but I wouldn't want to find out by leaving my car window rolled down, either!

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  15. Wait, either of the Dakotas have at any point been referred to as sunny? LOL. Considering spring has just arrived, and I'm just next door to them, I call foul :) Great post, as always! One of these days I'll make it to Rushmore!

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    1. I reckon a state can adopt whatever nickname they'd like, huh? I did think calling South Dakota the "Sunshine State" was a tad misleading though. Then again, North Dakota legislators have discussed (multiple times) dropping the "North" from their state's name... I guess they think it gives potential visitors the impression that it's "colder" than South Dakota. Perception is everything.

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  16. Wow, Susan, this post was Informative. My brain had a difficult time keeping up. SD has some strange attractions... That Corn Place being high on the list. I did find the gold minder and his claim (name) quite humorous. More so, since the name has held all these years, along with the history behind it. Truth is stranger than fiction!

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  17. Statutory rape: hahahahahaha. I remember the Roger Miller song. Loved him. Jim Morrison did some very long versions of some songs in which he spoke of being The Lizard King. The Hurricane's former boyfriend gave me a bunch of Doors CDs that are unusual (maybe sessions that weren't released till after Morrison was dead; the songs couldn't be played on the radio because of length and obscenities). I know we drove through S.D. many times on our way to my dad's home state of N.D., but I remember nothing about S.D. I think my mom said we visited Mount Rushmore once when I was really young. The guy was probably still carving it.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Glad you started out with a laugh over the corny statue pun, because you ended by making ME laugh. Still carving it...

      Ah, cool. Another Doors fan. I know he sang about being the Lizard King, but I still think it's funnier to attribute the naming to the lizard eating weed(s).

      Happy weekend, kiddo.

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  18. It's good to meet you here, and thanks for visiting my blog. South Dakota is a fabulous state, and I visited a lot of the sites you show here. I am your new follower.

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    1. Hi-ya, Terra. Thanks for the return visit, and for signing on as a new follower. Welcome aboard!

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  19. "It's illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory." Susan, you're the first person to guess my reason for avoiding S. Dakota. There are some pleasures I'm simply not willing to give up.

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    1. I know. That's downright inhospitable, isn't it?

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  20. Never been there
    Barely left my lair
    Looks like fun
    And damn that face could block out the sun

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    1. Oh, you've gotta go to see the sun
      And have all kinds of rocky fun.
      If that big face makes you forlorn,
      Go to the palace and eat some corn.

      Delete
  21. Wow, now I've got one more thing to add to my bucket list. Visit South Dakota, he Sunshine State!

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    1. If I wanta feel the heat, I think I'll go to the "other" sunshine state. (But not until October!)

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  22. I've actually been to South Dakota, on a work trip no less. Sadly, I saw nothing more than the inside of a hotel room...and a lovely view below me as I took off on my way home.

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    1. That sounds like a lot of the business trips my hubby took. He went to some fabulous cities, but usually didn't have any free time to enjoy them.

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  23. Thanks for the nice tour! I've not been there. It's sad that seeing Buffalo is now so rare in the west. It's fascinating to see them even if they are now in pastures with cattle [Oregon].

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    1. I love to SEE 'em; I just don't like to SMELL 'em. Not that buffalo are wandering through the streets of Atlanta, or anything. But they are at a number of animal preserves in the area. And how can I say this? They aren't all that picky about personal hygiene.

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  24. Never been there but loved the tour! I can't imagine having a buffalo try to stick it's head in my car window like that first photo!

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    1. I''m glad you enjoyed the tour. I've never had a buffalo try to poke its head in my window, either, but it's one experience I'll happily forego.

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  25. There's simply too much to comment on, so I shall just say, what a fantastic post!!

    Oh, and isn't little Bacon a cutie!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. Glad ya liked it.

      And yes, Bacon is adorable. (Both the piggie in the video and the slabs on my sandwich...)

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  26. Ok, now I must find a way to get myself to the corn palace!

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    1. Go for it! (If you time it right, maybe you can take in the smashed tater "rassling", too.)

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  27. My best friend moved to S.Dakota and I've been just itching to visit her. But mercy me...what's with the Indian hatred? I find it sad that those laws and awful names still exist.

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    1. Like all the other states with antiquated laws languishing on their books, I'm sure those old anti-Indian laws aren't enforced. Still, one has to wonder why they haven't deleted them. So, go ahead! Grab your long johns and go visit your friend!

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  28. What a fascinating place, a state of oddities and charms. The burning fountain is amazing.

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    1. That's a good way to describe it: a mix of oddities and charms. (Kinda like my family... HA!) I thought that burning fountain was really cool, too. I'm glad you took the time to take a peek at it.

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  29. I have sure had fun catching up on here! Thanks for the in depth So. Dakota info, and the gold mine and mineral post too.

    Hope that you are enjoying your weekend,

    Kathy M.

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    1. Hi-ya Kathy. Thanks for stopping by and catching up. Our DSL went belly up on Friday, so we were without Internet connection all weekend, and whattaya know? I didn't suffer too many withdrawal pains. Amazing! (But it's good to be back.)

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  30. So very nice to meet you! I am so looking forward to getting to know you and being your newest friend and follower.
    This is an amazing post and I loved learning about South Dakota. It is on my bucket list of places to visit and after seeing this post I sure I hope I do.
    You have a wonderful site and I know I am going to enjoy coming by here often.
    Hope your having a great weekend
    Maggie

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    1. Hi-ya, from one grandma yellow hair to another. Thanks so much for stopping by and for signing on as a new follower. I'm looking forward to getting to know you, too. Welcome aboard!

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  31. Hi Susan .. what a great list of Dakota thingies .. I'd love to visit the Badlands one day, and Mount Rushmore - especially the Lakota sculpture ..

    Now Mount Terror .. don't mess with your husband I guess!

    That Harley lot - would drive me out of earshot range - guess that's across the country somewhere!!

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Visiting the Badlands must feel like a visit to another planet, but I'd like to visit it someday, too.

      As for the Harley, I have two words. Ear plugs. I love the deep throaty sound of a Harley or two, but that many of them in one place would be deafening!

      Cheers!

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  32. I have the travel bug and always look at interesting places to visit. Thanks for posting about these places. Sounds awesome. I do hope I get to visit one day.

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    1. If you've gotta have a bug, the travel bug is the one to have! I hope you get to visit one day, too.

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  33. Oh, Yammy Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How I've missed you! Hey, I might just have to go to S.D. There's a lot of what I like out there- giant works of art, caves, fossils, bikers and mash!! (we're waving the Laconia Week peep bye bye today- never been to Sturgis!) Hooray for Yammy Fridays!

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    1. HA! I thought you might be glad for the yammering again. We've never been to Sturgis, either, but we've been to some other bike meets. Smarticus doesn't have a Harley anymore, though. All it took was one phone call from one of his biker pals saying a truck had hit him, and he was being loaded into an ambulance for "us" to decide it was time for him to give it up. He still gets that look in his eyes when he sees a Harley ride by, but there are too many people on the roads who don't pay attention to bikes.

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  34. I may not travel to South Dakota any time soon, but I want to visit someday. Thanks for the highlights!

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    1. This virtual tour is probably the only way I'll ever see South Dakota. (Too many places, too little time!) But then again, ya never know.

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  35. I just want to know where I can find pants to fit my imaginary horse?! Most pants large enough for a horse only have room for two legs.

    Julie

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    1. From the Imaginary Horse Boutique, of course.

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  36. I was wondering about the horse trousers too. Almost googled it! Thank you for another jolly tour :-)

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    1. I don't know about trousers, but a town near us used to require all horses participating in a parade to wear diapers. Personally, I think it would've been funnier if they skipped the diapers and just made all the politicians in the parade follow the horses...

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  37. Fun and informative post! I've never visited South Dakota. Maybe one day, but I have a tendency to nod off in cheese factories, so perhaps it's not a good idea? Either way, I'm avoiding Sturgis. I get a headache just looking at all those motorcycles and imagining the noise.

    Hey if Grumpy Cat can get a book and movie deal, I certainly think Chris P. Bacon deserves one. Great name, and he's absolutely adorable.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. As much as you seem to enjoy moving around, who knows? You may end up there some day. Just not during Bike Week.

      Chris P. Bacon is a cute name, but do ya think he might make him a little... nervous???

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  38. OH MY GOSH on the buffalo!!! LOL

    My husband is an American Indian (so our offspring qualify too ;) ) and at any given time there are 5 or more Indians hanging around here, lol. Glad that's not a law in our state... or maybe it is, hahaha. I haven't checked. :)

    South Dakota sounds like an awesome trip. My in-laws are going there for their first time ever in just a few days!

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    1. Yeah, that buffalo's a little "nosy', huh?

      Very cool on your hubby being American Indian. So was my college roommate and maid of honor. Well, technically, she was half... her dad was Cherokee, and her mom was a porcelain-skinned WASP. My girlfriend had the most beautiful complexion and high cheekbones of anyone I've ever known. Good thing those kinds of laws weren't on the books in MD, too; she would've kicked some serious booty.

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