Under the Influence of Books

Family Travels


Family Reunion at Custer State Park

We took a trip to the Armstrong Family Roundup toward the end of June, 2007, but we decided to go from Point A to Point B through several other points along the way. Our trip started on June 24 as we departed our home in Polo (only three days after the hole was dug for our future home...huge excitement). We drove to Sioux City the first night, and had an unscheduled tour of the northern part of the city (very nice areas). When we finally got to the hotel, we were tired, tired, tired and tired (all three of us, including the dog).
We started our drive on Monday with a much shorter distance as our goal, but with some very out-of-the-way places on our schedule. Out-of-the-way in South Dakota can mean many things, but this segment of the trip included a visit to my childhoold homes in Pickstown and Winner. Pickstown currently claims 198 residents, and when I lived there (the year I was 8, I think), we had about 75 houses. Streets were few and prairie dogs were many. We lived in a duplex (I swear the house was larger when we lived there), and I learned to ride a bike on Chapel Street.
After we cruised through Pickstown, we headed west and north to Winner, where we lived in two different houses. We call them the White House and the Pink House. I didn't have the address for the White House, but I think I spotted it (this house, too, looked quite a bit smaller than I remember). I did find the Pink House, though. It's an ugly green color now, but that doesn't really matter--I'm pretty sure that it was an ugly pink color when it was pink. It was very hot (upper 90's) and windy by the time we went through Winner, so it was good to roll up the windows, turn on the air conditioner and head north for Chamberlain, our stop for the evening.
We started Tuesday's drive on a lazy schedule, with our planned arrival in Custer by evening that night. The weather forecast called for clouds and possible rain, but the day ended up sunny and hot. We drove past Murdo, another place I used to live, but I didn't subject my family to a trip to see my old house, as I've done that before. We got to the eastern entrance of the Badlands (the Badlands loop) around noon and stopped near Bigfoot Pass for a picnic lunch. The Badlands Park is simply impressive!
We left the Badlands and headed to Rapid City, and from there we headed south to Custer State Park. We went through Keystone toward the park and entered via Iron Mountan Road. That's the twisty, windy road that has pigtail bridges and several tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore. The road even splits twice into a divided road of sorts. Shortly after we entered the park property, we encountered a buffalo herd that was crossing the road. Buffalo, huge and small, passed all around us, and at one point, I heard a loud snort from one of the largest as he notified me that he was crossing the road where I was heading. Since he had size and nose position advantages, I stopped and let him pass.
As soon as we could no longer see the buffalo herd, we enountered a drove of donkeys that were quite used to getting food and attention from occupants of cars. Sasha didn't appreciate the donkeys' curiosity and became quite agitated. We eventually squeezed the car past the asses and made it to the State Game Lodge area. We stayed in Cabin 4--a nice little cabin with a couple of beds, a small table, a nice bathroom, air conditioning and a wall-mounted LCD television. Nice digs! Cell phone reception was poor at best, so it was truly a vacation spot!