Monday, August 23, 2010

"What I Did On My Summer Vacation"

Bud in the South Dakota Badlands

Do teachers still assign What I Did On My Summer Vacation essays the first back to school week? I dreaded that assignment each new school year because our family didn't take vacations. A vacation for us was a day or two at the Iowa State Fair. The only other topic I could write about was a week spent at one of my grandmother's or my Aunt Evelyn's.

I heard so many kids talk about a trip to the Badlands and the Black Hills that those destinations seemed magical. That may be where and when my wanderlust began - I wanted to go to South Dakota. I wanted to see the famous Black Hills and the mysterious Badlands.

It would be forty years before my first trip there. I wasn't disappointed. I could understand why Native Americans called the area Mako Sica - Bad Land. The rugged terrain would make travel difficult for anyone. The sparse vegetation did not look like it would support much wildlife. When we drove through the area it was late afternoon on a hot summer day. But the colorful canyons and jagged buttes were beautiful. Finally I was seeing what it was all about.

After spending the night in Wall, SD and touring the famous "Wall Drug", the next day we explored the Black Hills. We by-passed Mount Rushmore that first trip, opting instead for visits to Crazy Horse Monument, Deadwood and Lead. We were there over the July 4th holiday - so it was only three days - much too short to see everything. But at least I had finally seen the area.

We've been back a couple more times, since then. And I would willingly go again. It is an area you can't take all in in one trip. The last time there we made the scenic drive through Spearfish Canyon - one of my favourites so far.

Sioux Falls, SD is a place Bud & I both like to visit. The last time we stayed there we were on our way to North Dakota. A chance weather report the next morning took us on a side trip to Ramona, SD. How could I not visit a name sake town? There wasn't much to see, but I did get my picture taken with the water tower.

We seldom take summer vacations any more - it is preferable to travel after Labor Day when the crowds have thinned out or in February when we can head south to warm weather. Which means my "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" essay would be just as sparse now as it was fifty-five years ago. One word would just about cover it: read.

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