I’ve decided that my new dream job would to be a travel writer. After all, traveling, writing and trying new restaurants are three of my favorite past times… wouldn’t it be great to be paid to do all three? I think so.
Okay, enough pipe dreaming. But I do want to take a moment to write about my recent travel and share a few highlights from my trip to South Dakota. Having covered 1,800 miles, I managed to see a good portion of the state in one week’s time. And since Hurricane Irene decided that I should stay a few extra days, I got to spend a little bit of time exploring the Black Hills. Next time, I’d definitely like to do some hiking and perhaps even a bit of rock climbing. But in the mean time, these are just a few of the places you should see, and might not think to check out:
1. The Alpine Inn, Hill City- Carrie and her family introduced me to this little gem, and you definitely want to try it… as long as you’re not a vegetarian! The only choice you have to make: 6oz or 9oz and how would you like that cooked? Your meal starts with a wedge salad with homemade ranch, which is followed up by a bacon-wrapped filet mignon, served with texas toast and a baked potato. The secret of the Inn lies in its simplicity… they do just one thing, but they sure do it well. And the price sure doesn’t hurt…good luck finding a $9 filet mignon in D.C. that doesn’t resemble the sole of your shoe. But it’s not a well-kept secret in the area… unless you’re with a party of 10+, the line for dinner forms at 5:30 and quickly wraps around the porch… so I recommend rounding up nine of your closest friends.
I got the 6oz because I wanted to leave room for dessert. It sure is good that you don’t have to make many decisions with your main course, because when the dessert menu comes, you will need to harness every bit of your decision making ability. Or just don’t look at the menu, and get the bread pudding. A la mode. And if your dining partner orders something other than the bread pudding, expect to share.
2. Shaviq Studio and Gallery, Rapid City- I stumbled on this little joint by accident, while doing a little shopping before heading for the Hills. The top floor boasts a wide variety of jewelry and other artwork, commissioned from local Rapid City artists. The basement is vintage clothing. For $5, I bought these adorable red kitten pumps for myself and this classic tie featuring none other than Mount Rushmore for Courtney. If I could fit more in my suitcase, my wallet would have been in trouble.
3. Boyd’s Antiques, Custer- Headed to Crazy Horse, I noticed this quirky shop. Always on the hunt for bottles, brooches and frames, I decided to stop in. I wish I had taken more pictures, because this place really is a site to see. Between the well disbursed, humorous handwritten notes (and warnings!) to customers, the items ranging from larger than life lawn animals to old coke cans, the donkey who clearly has made himself at home wondering the aisles and even Mr. Boyd himself, this place oozes Western charm.
4. Casey’s Cafe, Chamberlain – Hidden in the back of a roadside drug and jewelry store, Casey’s is another spot I never would have found without Carrie’s guidance. But she wasn’t lying when she talked about their pies. I grew up knowing a good pie. I made my first pie under the apprenticeship of my Papa, most likely before I learned that pie should be eaten with a fork. After my Nana died, Papa would come over every Wednesday with his wooden dessert basket (clearly labeled ‘Dick’, to be sure no one mistook it for their own). As soon as he arrived, we would hurry to peak in the basket, hiding our disappointment only upon discovering the notorious pineapple upside down cake and cheering when we found a pie. My favorites: blackberry and strawberry rhubarb.
So when I arrived at Casey’s, I bee-lined to the pie case, saw they had a divine looking rhubarb, and made up my mind uncharacteristically quickly for my usually indecisive self: “Rhubarb… and can you do that a la mode?” “Yes, do you want soup or a salad first?” “No, but can I have whipped cream?”
5. The Needles Highway- This one isn’t exactly a ‘find’, but I enjoyed it so much that I had to include it on the list. After driving the wildlife loop in Custer State Park, I headed up Needles Highway to Sylvan Lake. Between the rock formations and the clear blue sky, what a beautiful drive!
For the rest of my photos: