Bob read about the Badlands Ranch and RV Resort outside of Interior, South Dakota, and thought it sounded like a great place to stay: pool, horseback riding, hiking trails, and the all-important free wireless Internet connection. The resort has a lodge, cabins to rent, and a small hotel in addition to the RV sites, which would take any size RV.
Well, it didn’t turn out to be quite what we thought it would be… women’s shower and toilet stall doors were shower curtains that blew away any sense of privacy through the open bathroom doors and in the face of the gusty South Dakota winds. That’s okay; maybe I have showering in the RV that week to thank for helping me to feel more “at home” in the rig.
We passed on the horseback rides — expensive, hot, and not without a good share of biting flies. We walked around the campground but never really found the hiking trails, which were maybe the horse trails. The wi-fi was intermittent at best, and when it was working the signal was very low.
So why did we end up staying eight days and enjoying every one of them? Maybe it was Jake, the owner, who set the pace for us, who gave us our first true-blue taste of South Dakota. Or maybe it’s just the way life is on the Pine Ridge Reservation. We arrived after driving from the Interstate down smaller and smaller roads, then a final mile down a dirt road to the RV park. We told Jake we weren’t sure how long we’d stay — maybe a couple of days, maybe longer. He nodded. “Pick a site,” he said. “Pay me when you leave.” We offered our Passport America card, but he nodded it away.
Hmmm! We haven’t seen this level of trust since our childhoods in smalltown Ohio! He’d made cookies and left them out for snacking. Through our stay, we’d sometimes stop in the office for something and find him snoozing in his chair.
The views around the RV “resort” are fabulous, and we were treated to our first thunderstorm on the prairie.
By the time we were ready to head out, we found ourselves relaxed outside the RV, slouched in our folding camp chairs, reading, swatting away the no-see-ums, and snoozing. Thanks, Jake!
We visited Wall, South Dakota, stepped into the famous Wall Drug long enough to sample their ice cream, stopped to see the Wounded Knee Museum (can’t recommend it, sorry to say), and had a great lunch at the Red Rock Restaurant. Despite the 50 or so minute drive (each way) to Wall from Interior, we made the trip a couple of times, primarily for groceries. We’d been to the tiny Interior grocery, but craved the sorts of fruits and veggies it just didn’t keep in stock.
The store and post office are connected behind their counters — probably there are times of the year when one person is all that’s needed to take care of the business that comes through. Interior’s population, according to the sign on the edge of town, is 67. Maybe that’s why the jail looks like this:
Despite the long stretches of what looks like open prairie, there are enough hills and other types of interruptions to keep our cell phones from working. When Bob needed to take care of some urgent business, we drove to the top of the hill on that dirt road so he could get a signal.
Even then, the reception was iffy, but at least the view was stunning!