Continuing east on October 3, we paused briefly to re-inact a remembered photo that featured my father, Wilbur (Bill) Shipley, in which the young man rode on the snout of a triceratops dinosaur. Actually, a concrete triceratops, one of seven dinosaur sculptures on a hill overlooking Rapid City, South Dakota, created to capitalize on the tourists coming to the Black Hills area to see Mount Rushmore. Constructed by the Works Progress Administration, the Dinosaur Park was dedicated in 1936. Dad was riding a grey beast, but it turns out that the seven were painted green with white undersides in 1950, so when Dad took his ride I either didn’t exist or was under the age of seven.
After our brief stop, we continued to Wall, South Dakota, where we settled into an RV campground and revisited the legendary Wall Drug. Next day, we disconnected the toad and drove the loop though the South Dakota Badlands. A comment by a ranger in the visitor center reminded me that we were close to the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre. She remarked that there was a photographic display at the Oglala-Lakota College near Kyle, SD. So we spent the rest of the day motoring south through some of the Pine Ridge Reservation, searching for the College and then the right building, and then experiencing the somber exhibition. Did you know that after the Lakota were finally pacified — largely because the whites had virtually wiped out the Bison — the Lakota were told that the entire portion (of what would become South Dakota) to the west of the Missouri River would be theirs. Just another treaty with the Indians broken by the Government.
After our drive through the badlands and some of the Reservation to the south, we returned to the campground in Wall. Next morning, we proceeded further east, stopping in the capitol of South Dakota, Pierre (pronounced “pier” by South Dakotans.) We conducted a self-guided tour of the capitol building, constructed between 1905 and 1910. We learned that the building was patterned after the Montana State Capitol in Helena, Montana. We then turned and headed essentially straight north toward Bismarck. While still in South Dakota, we stopped at the private RV campground at South Whitlock Resort near Gettysburg, SD and the Oahe Lake. We were the only campers in the 71 full-hookup facility, and so we could “parallel park” our camper and avoid having to unhook the toad. But the campground would not stay empty for many days, since the pheasant hunting season was imminent and the area is prime pheasant territory. Opposite the resort office and store was a supper club which we could not resist. I had one of the best New York Strip steaks ever, and Barb had grilled walleye, presumably fresh from the nearby lake.
I write this from Bismarck, at the home of Mom and sister Zona. Mom, by the way, has regained much of her energy and all of her positive outlook. Both Barb and I feel that she looks healthy and much younger than her actual 97 years. Her secret? Staying active and involved (and playing lots of Progressive Rummy). We will put the RV to bed here in North Dakota, and then fly to the Savannah area to see friends, family and doctors. But that is a topic for another post.