Two Spinsters in South Dakota

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone Park . After years of begging people to go with me and having no luck, I learned that my friend, Colleen, had a similar yearning. So we coordinated our calendars, booked our trip, packed up the dogs, and headed out West.20131006-180545.jpg


The Plan

Cute Danny and I were to fly from NYC to meet Colleen and Andy in Minneapolis, and then fly together to Rapid City, SD.  We were to then drive to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial,  and Devil’s TowerDevil’s Tower, ending up in Yellowstone Park. I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, this trip would’ve been on it.


What Really Happened

IMG_06441. The government shut down…thereby closing all National Parks.


2. There was a blizzard that shut down South Dakota…for days. Highways and major roads closed, people warned to ‘stay inside’, ‘ no travel allowed’… and so we camped out at The Holiday Inn Express. We’re on Day 4, as of this writing, but the airport’s still closed…so who knows when I’ll sleep in my bed again.  (PostScript:  I made it home and slept in my own bed by Day 5.)


Plan B

Day 1 was awesome.  We drove to Mt. Rushmore, which was closed…but so what.  The mountain is so big, we didn’t need to go inside.  We only had to look up!  It was absolutely breathtaking.



From there we drove to Bear Country, a wildlife park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It, too, was pretty amazing. Lots of bears and dozens of other wildlife species. We spent a couple of hours there, driving around looking at the animals.



Our next stop was Reptile Gardens, which is billed as having the largest collection of reptile species in the world. It was great, and pretty educational…if one needs to know a lot about reptiles.



On the way back, we stopped at Peggy’s diner. They have lots of things made from buffalo.   Things that I don’t expect to made from buffalo…like hot dogs.IMG_0647


That night, we had dinner “in town” at The Firehouse Brewing Company , a popular restaurant IMG_0648housed in an old firehouse, where they are known for the variety of beers they brew.  It was crowded and we had, apparently, stumbled on a local hot spot.  We were almost pinching ourselves at how much fun we had that day.

IMG_0649Day 2 we were supposed to head out to Yellowstone Park but Mother Nature had a different idea. The blizzard hit fast and hard. This was nothing like the blizzards I’ve experienced in NYC. This was a blizzard on steroids. We were warned not to go outside…but we did anyway. (Idiots). We didn’t get far. The wind was strong and the snow felt like glass on our faces, so we humbly turned around and began our plan to settle in at the hotel.



Days 3-4 were pretty much the same. Hang out in the room. Hang out in the lobby. Hang out in the dining area. Hang out some more in the room. Play Words with Friends. Facebook. Tweet. Eat gas station food.  Eat chips and candy bars from the vending machine. (No restaurant at the hotel). Try to convince the dogs that going outside is a good idea. (They weren’t so sure about that.)


Colleen and I laughed about how happy we were that we get along so well. Otherwise, being stuck in a hotel room for 96 hours-and-counting could have been it’s own special hell.

I even became bored enough to dabble in online dating again…which I claim to hate.

I did see –up close– an elk that had been killed by a man and his son for their winter IMG_0651dinners. I was a bit grossed out, but also tried not to be a hypocrite. I eat animals, I just don’t kill them. I have to remember that buying from a supermarket and restaurant isn’t superior, it’s just less messy.

The airlines played games with us a lot and, honestly, that was the worse part of this trip, because they kept rescheduling our flights home –> then canceling them. I wanted them to stop getting my hopes up and then snatching hope away. Reminded me of Lucy, Charlie Brown, and that darned football.

It’s funny. This was still a really great trip that I’m glad I took…despite all the madness. I guess I’ll soon start planning my next attempt at Yellowstone, hopefully, with better results.

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12 Responses to Two Spinsters in South Dakota

  1. Pingback: Nice Guy. Where’d You Meet Him? | Eleanore Wells

  2. Nissa says:

    Hi there –
    I just wanted to let you know, this post made me laugh out loud when I read it, even though I read it in the hospital 2 days before my Dad went on hospice (he passed away 5 days later). I loved the picture of the dogs, of course they took possession of the bed! I have 3 doggies, two of which are Yorkie mix (so your boy looks like a cousin, ha).

    Like the other poster, I have been hoping you would write another post about online dating. I’ve been overweight but recently lost 37 pounds, so I’ll need new photos. I found this site, LookBetterOnline that helps you find photographers in your area, that give you your pictures in a digital format, ready to use for online dating. This was much better than the other places I had found, which were all ‘family/group/child’ oriented and didn’t really meet my needs. When I give it a whirl I’ll let you know!

    Last, I thought about my spinster status a lot the last 4 months, which included 5 hospitalizations and meant my Dad went to live in a rehab facility. I was the one who visited every day, coordinated the care, talked to every doctor, every nurse, every CNA. I made sure that my Dad got what he needed at a time when he could no longer take care of himself. All around him were others that were at the mercy of whoever was assigned that day. I thanked God every day that I had a job that allowed me to take unpaid time and the Federal Mandated Leave Act (FMLA) that meant I didn’t have to fear losing my job to take care of my loved one. My sister, who lives out of state, didn’t even talk to him every day because she was busy with ‘her family’.

    This reminded me that the world needs spinsters – those who have a commitment not to husbands and children but to those who are in need, when they need it. Many at the hospital commented to me that they had never seen such devotion (as I exhibited toward my Dad), which always made me sad. Are others truly so unloved and alone? So be proud to be part of the Spinster brigade. We are needed. We do an important job. We are an important part of the process of life, though others know it not….until they need us.

  3. Dee says:

    E, This sounds like “Life happens when you’re busy making other plans.” It’s nice that you have such a good attitude about it!

    Your comment/post about hating online dating has me curious. What are your favorite methods for meeting new men? I too hate online dating, but everything I read makes it sound like that’s the only/best way to meet men and I think overall the quality stinks on most sites. Please share your ideas!! Thanks!

  4. Gail says:

    Hi Cuz (Colleen), that was a funny trip. When you make a decision to have fun regardless, this is the outcome. Anyone for Paris?
    Love, Gail

  5. Jennie Lawston says:

    Thanks for posting. I loved the narrative and the pictures. I know Colleen and feel as though I know you and your doggie as well.

  6. Shirl says:

    Dear Eleanor,

    I loved your post on your trip. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time over a posting
    since it reminded me of a couple of my trips in the past. Love your website. Thanks for sharing.

    Peace, Love and JOY! Shirl

  7. SuzyKnew says:

    Oh my goodness….! Oh my goodness…! That is all I can say. Oh my goodness…!

    You know my “day job” is working with the government (USAID). We aren’t on furlough yet but you just never know.

    Actually, just like you were supposed to be touring all those national parks I was supposed to be in India right now. But, new travel policies grounded me almost as I was going out the door to the airport….


    Let’s us know when you organize the Spinster Storm on Capitol Hill! LOL

  8. Q says:

    Glad you, Colleen and the dogies had a wonderful time. It’s trip like these that help us
    realize the simple things in life especially when “nothing” seems to be working for you. Can’t wait to hear about the next trip!!

  9. Krista says:

    This post made me so happy!!! I went on a road trip from Southern California up to Rapid City, SD and completely fell in love with the country up there. So much that I am headed back for a weekend stay in Deadwood and Lead come November. I truly hope you enjoyed your time, even through a blizzard and the shutdown. It is such beautiful country and really put my soul at ease.

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