Bonkoski's Alaskan Trip Journal 2008 travel blog

Our last night with a campfire in the KOA at Mt. Rushmore

Rob, Bob taking it real easy... me too, as soon as I...

Saloon #10, where "Wild Bill: was actually shot to death. Bob, holding...

"Wild Bill" Hickcock's gave at Mt. Moriah cemetery in the city of...

The man that portraited Will Bll

The shooting of Will Bill

Me and "Wild Bill"

Downtown Deadwood, S. Dakota

The site and the sign of the person that shot Wild Bill

Grave site of the famous Calamity Jane

Three horsemen in front of the Saloon #10 in Deadwood

Signs at the cemetary where Wild Bill is buried

A sign noting the burieal site of Calamity Jane

The Avenue of the Flags in the evening hours; entering for the...

Just before dusk at Mt. Rushmore

The stage lit up at night for the evening ceremony at Mt....

The four presidents lit in front of a threatening thunder storm

The beginning of the Badlands of South Dakota

The Badlands....oh, so bad!

Dry, rugged, valleys', peaks, and desert like conditons

Nothing, no where, for miles and miles

Forever, it seems, these lands go on!

Bob, at those bad, bad, bad lands!

Rob, too!

Deb, with camera in front of the railing at those bad, oh...

Last, but least, another one of me!

Stripes on the hills for the Badlands!

An hours trip to the northwest, and an old historic town of Deadwood, South Dakota, is a great days side trip. I suggested visiting Deadwood to Bob due to very old memories of a 3 year running play I was in, named “Deadwood Dick”. Of course the details of this play were not real clear in my mind because it was many, many years ago; the early 1980’s…I think!

The history of Deadwood dates back to the 1870’s. Prosperous gold rush days, gambling, brothels on all four corners of town, the quest of a country to discover the newly acquired states of the west, and a story of ’Wild Bill” his friends and followers; to include Calamity Jane!

We wondered the old streets of Deadwood…sat and enjoyed the reenactment of the “shooting of Wild Bill Hickcock”…had lunch, gambled a little, and made a short and hot stop at Mt. Moriah Cemetery to view the burial sites of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane. Definitely worth an hours scenic drive through the hills and alongside a few blue lakes.

Our last night in the area ended with a wonderful view and a deeply moving evening ceremony at Mt. Rushmore. Once again, but this time sitting in the bleachers of the Grand View Terrace, and enjoying every passionately spoken word of the young female park ranger. We witnessed the lighting of the faces of the four presidents, carved high at Mt. Rushmore; while a thunder storm brewed in the background.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending for our stay here in the Mt. Rushmore area. As the faces of our beloved presidents of this great nation glowed in the mountainside, the feelings were mutually powerful. The sky lit up in bluish colors, the thunder roared in the far distance. The stone faces of the four men never altered! The flag of our country waved strongly in the wind…we applauded the evening with pride!

Tomorrow morning we were headed for a 3 day drive home; only detouring for a short loop off of I-90 to drive through South Dakotas’ Badlands.


August 21st…Thursday. The Badlands, then HOME! We were northbound on South Dakota’s Highway 16 to reach Interstate 90. Winding, curving, grades up and down, and finally a flat, 4 lane, straight as an arrow highway that would take us into the far western side of Wisconsin. During our Alaskan trip we have been on many two lane roadways, the Alcan with major dips, potholes, gravel and dirt, 8%-10% grades, with awesome scenery and a lot of rain! Today the temps hit 100 degrees for a short bit before noon. The road was flat with 4 lanes and a median in the middle, until we exited at #110 to head south for a fairly short loop through the Badlands of South Dakota.

The heat was brutal, with no clouds or trees for moments of shade! Although we didn’t overly complain to each other; we remembered too well the damp and cold weather we left behind in Alaska. That was over 3,000 miles ago! Summer was gorgeous in the lower 48!

A drive south on a narrow winding road, driving the Alfa with the Jeep in tow, through the Badlands National Park at temperatures over 100 degrees! Can you visualize it? Luckily, we made only one stop to get out at one of the many scenic overlooks.

The Badlands, to me, were similar to the deserts of Arizona, but yet very different. These lands of the National park are comprised of narrow valleys and gulch’s, straight to the sky peaks of molded volcanic dust, turned to stone, river beds with little, or no water, and no where to hide from the heat! Don’t mistake the fact that they’re named the Badlands, that they are bad lands. However, you would not have wanted to be a settler on horse back, in the late 1800’s if you had to cross them, or a hiker of today that was left there unwillingly. They’re beautiful to look at, drive through, and say you’ve been there, done that! There are rattlesnakes in the area, and a sign read that the Prairie dogs have “the plague”. Kiki remained in the Alfa as we took our only walk!

A drive to the northwestern states of our nation would not be complete without a stop at the Badlands. There is history to be learned throughout this part of the country, and the Badlands are part of that history.

We had gotten back onto I-90, heading east with about 1,000 miles left of our journey. The winds were strong, from the southwest and pushing us around. Sioux Falls, South Dakota was our nights stop; only 5 miles from the Minnesota border. Tomorrow would be a long days drive, for we were planning on being home for an early Saturdays evening on Lake Margrethe!

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