A South Dakota Safari

On Sunday I dropped Husband off at the airport at the crack of dawn, for yet another TDY assignment. This time he was going to Charlottesville, and I jumped at the chance to meet him there later in the week. Actually I’m typing this post in our Charlottesville hotel 🙂
Anyway, back to Sunday. The four of us had plans to visit Custer for the day. We stopped by the Colonial House Restaurant on the way out of town. My original plan had been to take them, like all of our other visitors, to the Alpine Inn in Hill City, turns out the Alpine is closed on Sundays. Nevertheless, the Colonial House is a Rapid City favorite, and has been whipping up fresh homemade pies for over 30 years. We had been wanting to try it for a while so it worked out perfectly.
Later, in Custer, we stopped by Sylvan Lake. I could not believe that we only saw like three other people. 

I learned something about my Granny that day.
Mom, Dad & I had climbed over the rocks to get to the little bridge over the dam. Granny was waiting around the corner. As we came back we called out to her and got no response. She had been complaining that she was so cold her chest hurt earlier, so of course I started assuming the worst. We called and called and no answer.
So we rushed back across the rocks, and there she was…
I think I know where my sister gets her mischievousness.
Leaving Sylvan Lake I took them on Needles Highway. A little ways up I looked over and saw these children and their mother down on the ground FEEDING CHIPMUNKS. I immediately pulled over and jumped out of the car, grabbing a chunk of bread out of our leftover lunch containers.
And then I planted my butt on the ground begging the chipmunks to come to me. 
However, the chipmunks preferred the kids multicolored goldfish to my plain bread. Thankfully their mother loaded me up with the proper chipmunk food.

I felt like Snow White with birds and ground squirrels eating out of my hands.
I nearly had a heart attack I was so excited. Those little balls of fur are so freaking cute!
At this point I had planned for us to just go home, but it was early in the afternoon so we had some time to kill. There is a drive called the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. When Husband and I first moved to the area we drove through a couple of times and were treated with up close views of buffalo, donkeys, prairie dogs, antelope and deer. At the time we thought it was the perfect thing to bring all of our visitors to. However, the last two times we drove it, we were lucky to catch one buffalo and some prairie dogs, and seeing as it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to drive, we finally determined it not worth wasting the time on.
I’m glad that Mom and Granny talked me into taking our chances. 
We saw HEARDS of animals.
From turkeys by the 100’s…
to buffalo taking a stroll down the road.

A field full of posing prairie dogs (the pics came out blurry so I’m not posting), countless deer, and antelope, right beside our window.

The only animals we didn’t see were the donkeys I love so much.
That night we dined on herbed butter bison steaks, rosemary roasted potatoes, and roasted asparagus.
Annnd a piece of homemade coconut pie from the Colonial House. 
The next day we said our goodbyes and I once again fought back the tears at seeing my family go. 
I always experience the oddest range of emotions when they leave. The entire day of their departure I can’t let myself even take two seconds to think about the fact that they are in fact leaving for good. At the airport I can barely look them in the eyes for fear I’ll just start sobbing. Then I get back into the car and ask myself, “What do you want Lauren? Do you want to go back to Asheville with them?!” And the answer is always, no. 
South Dakota isn’t where I want to be necessarily, but the adventure that Husband and I are living right now, is. I miss my family terribly, but I know without a doubt that I’m not ready to go back home and settle down. I question sometimes if I’ll ever be.
So when they leave I spend a few hours with an internal battle of heart and mind raging on my insides, and then eventually it settles, I get back to life in the plains, and I reminisce about the memories we created as I edit the pictures from the weekend.
That’s one great thing about life, it does go on.

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