Adventures, Travel

1880 Town, South Dakota


On Interstate 90, just a few hours west of the Corn Palace is 1880 Town. It’s basically one of South Dakota’s many over-the-top, crazy, unexpected roadside attractions. I’ve always scoffed at 1880 Town because it seemed like a tourist trap. It boasts a large collection of Dances with Wolves paraphernalia–which I never saw. Costner makes me feel yucky inside. But I was still riding the Corn Palace high so I figured I’d just check it out for once instead of driving by like a poop. Yup, I’m stepping out of my poopy comfort zone. Well, my gamble paid off. I went, I saw, I walked around, I flirted with the help (a rugged fella in cowboy gear) and I fell in love with the place. If you like old buildings, tiny homes, antiques and history then you’re in for a treat! Dances with Wolves memorabilia aside (which was actually impressive, detailed and seemingly historically accurate–although I’m no expert), some of the actual buildings comprising the town were from an old movie set but others were old buildings from around the state that were rescued from destruction. So you can actually tour around an old bank from the 1800’s, for example. The town has a church, a saloon, a doctor’s office, a barber shop, a hotel, a jail, a general store, a homestead, a bank, a tiny home, a blacksmith…pretty much everything and they’re all filled with antiques authentic to that particular structure or time period. All of the buildings are so small and yet they served their purpose well. It’s such a contrast from the build-big mentality we have today. Needless to say, this visit made my tiny house fetish sooooooo much worse. AND I also noticed that I have a thing for old heat stoves. I took a million photos of stoves while I was there. It’s just another weird, newly discovered, little quirk I have.

There’s also a gas station, train car diner, gift shop and museum (with a working player piano–they freak me out a bit) on the premises. Plus a ranch with several Texas longhorns, horses and even a very friendly camel. Yup, I escaped without getting spit on. That’s always a bonus. Admission was $12 but it was well worth it. I even took home some longhorn coat hangers for my future tiny home. I saw a bucket of them in the museum and inquired in the gift shop if I could buy two of them and they let me. They were $2.00 each and now I have antiques from 1880 Town. I cannot suggest this stop enough. I plan to make this a yearly visit.longhorns


Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: July 13th, 2013

Old Faithful (2)
The Old Faithful Inn

I couldn’t resist visiting the Old Faithful Inn one more time. It’s just so beautiful in there. I was able to write my next post for the Declaration of You Bloglovin Tour right on one of their original writing desks from 1904. I’m getting spoiled. I ate too much ice cream, took some great photos and then went on an hour-long guided tour of the building. It was a fantastic learning experience. I had no idea that Yellowstone is in three states (Wyoming, Montana and Idaho) because the Park actually existed before state boundaries were made. Yup, our first national park existed even before statehood. Yellowstone existed even before there was a National Park Service. The hotel was funded by the Pacific Coast Railroad and owned by a man named Harry Child. He went to the railroad asking for money because he knew that if he didn’t build the hotel then someone else eventually would. The railroad had recently created a stop at Yellowstone’s first entrance, Mammoth, and they decided a hotel would attract more passengers so they went for it. Child hired a 29-year-old man named Richard Reamer, whom he had met on a trip to Seattle, to build the hotel. Reamer must have been impressive because he had no formal architectural education and had never built a hotel before. In 1903, they began building the original 140-rooms plus lobby and had it completed in almost exactly one year. It took less than 100 men (I think somewhere around 50 to 70 is more like it.) to build the structure during a brutally harsh winter, sleeping in tents nearby. All supplies and furniture had to by hauled by horse-drawn sleigh into the park from the northern Mammoth entrance. The pine logs and volcanic rock for the chimney were harvested from the park and were transported by horses as well. Reamer specifically harvested tree freaks of nature to get those bent and funky looking pillars. Some of them even look like arms with big muscles. Interestingly enough, all of the logs originally had their bark because Reamer wanted visitors to feel like they were in a forest. However, during World War II the hotel shut down and they used that time to scrape the bark off because it was flaking everywhere and was troublesome to keep clean and dust-free. In the early 1900s, visitor numbers were exploding and Reamer was hired to add two 100+ room additions (the last addition was almost abandoned by Reamer because the park service didn‘t approve of his design–thankfully he won out). During the tour we got to go into one of the original honeymoon suites in the “old house” (this is what they call the original lobby plus 140 rooms–which now has more like 90 rooms because they used some space for gift shops, offices, and such). It was so adorable! It still has some of it’s original amenities with the addition of some respectful upgrades; however, you still have to walk down the hall to go to the bathroom or take a shower. It’s all a part of stepping back in time though. Some rooms still have all of the original amenities such as claw foot tubs and pull-chain toilets. These rooms are highly sought after and are therefore booked far in advance. Strangely enough, it’s cheapest to stay in the “old house” compared to the newer wings, presumably because of the shared bathroom but I find it way more charming. In the winter, the hotel closes and all of the original furniture is transported to Mammoth where it’s stored in climate-controlled conditions. The windows on the first floor are boarded up, the pipes are bled and the lights go out. For the rest of the season it’s freezing cold, dark and completely abandoned with the exception of one night where the winter employees are invited to bring their sleeping bags and watch The Shinning. No joke. I would love to do this!


The Crows Nest.


A huge popcorn popper to the right.


On my way back to the dorm I gave fishing in Yellowstone Lake another go. Wow, either I don’t know how to fish or my pole is messed up. On my first cast, the entire reel along with all of the fishing line went right into the lake. I had to go swimming just to gather all of the pieces. I picked up and persisted for another hour or so and went back to the dorm sans fish. There was a nap in there somewhere and then a nice walk to Fishing Bridge. I passed a fender bender on the main road. I’m not sure how people manage to hit one another going 45-miles/hour, not even at an intersection, but they do. Then I turned the corner to the bridge and passed a few feet from a big boy bison stuffing his adorable face with grass. Then there was another big boy taking a leisurely walk on the bridge. Once the cars chased him off the bridge, I watched him rub himself on a nearby hillside. Then it was off to the general store for some food (including a no-bake cookie, which I now crave 24/7). The rest of the night was spent chatting, reading an entire book on reiki, and resting.