You know when you see a really good movie trailer and at the end you're thinking, "That was awesome. I can't wait to see the entire movie."? A preview – stocked with loads of cool imagery woven through a quickly unraveling pace – is designed to grab your interest and tease you with just enough of a peek that you have no choice but to come back to see the entire thing. Well, I just had a very similar (and equally cinematic) travel experience.
On an agency creative assignment, I drove 627 miles in a convertible all around the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota – and in just over 36 hours. (Right now, I really need the movie trailer voice-guy to say "In a world... Hang on!") I was asked to join Brandon on a photo and video shoot through the western portion of the state. My invitation was clearly code for: "Everyone else is busy, do you think we could get Ted to go with him, help carry his camera stuff and possibly drive?" But whatever the reason, I was happy to go. I'd never been to that part of the country before and I had a long list of places I wanted to see along the way.
"Rapid" City was a perfect place to set the tone for an adventure that included interviewing the characters of downtown, climbing dinosaurs, watching a cabaret show in 1880 Town, avoiding aggressive prairie dogs, exploring a rock garden, running through the Badlands, buying souvenirs at Wall Drug, and finishing beers with bikers in Sturgis. And that was just the first day.
The Top 5 Things Ted Learned About Travel On This Trip:
1. If your big suitcase won't fit in the convertible, you can always hide/stash it behind a Holiday Inn generator for a day or so and hope it's there when you return. What? I had limited options and minimal time.
2. If a big pack of prairie dogs comes out of their burrows and surround you in a creepy, "Stephen King" kind of way, DON'T RUN! You're just supposed to give them peanuts.
3. In 1880 Town you can dress in a variety of authentic old west outfits for just $5. I couldn't tell who worked there versus who was there on vacation.
4. The Crazy Horse Memorial began being sculpted in 1948 and the original sculptor knew it wouldn't be completed in his lifetime. We're talking the USA's version of the pyramids.
5. The people of South Dakota may be the friendliest of anywhere I've traveled. They're always willing to lend a hand – so much so that we were able to complete our assignment in record time. This is the kind of place that you can leave your suitcase behind a public generator and come back for it two days later.
Within the course of our second day, we photographed the waterfalls of Spearfish Canyon, watched a gunfight in Deadwood, ate tacos with bikers at a roadside cafe, talked with German geologists at Crazy Horse, fished Sylvan Lake and finished up with a quick 20 minutes at Mount Rushmore. The entire trip was a snapshot of the state's stunning landscapes, well-maintained roads, quirky attractions and wonderful characters. Not only is South Dakota the embodiment of America, but the hospitality and inherent good nature of its people guarantee guests an excellent trip – no matter how long they're able to stay. I'll be making a return trip for sure, but next time I'll bring a smaller suitcase – or rent a bigger car.
"What are you boys doing with all that camera equipment?" - Biker dude at Spearfish Canyon bar.
"We're shooting some footage about what it's like to visit South Dakota. Would you mind if we ask you a few questions?" - Me
"You should ask my lady. She has a nicer bike, is prettier, smarter and would be much better on camera."- Biker dude
"I also just reminded you that we're still in South Dakota, honey."- His biker lady
Additional photos from this journey can be found by clicking here FlickrTravelWithTed