They always say to expect the unexpected when you travel, and I’ve found that if you approach things with an open heart and free mind you can often find gems of surprise in the most unusual places. And that’s how we started the day…wheeling the monster into the tiny town of Murdo, SD.
This unassuming spot is small enough to spit across (barely 6 blocks all around) boasts just one store and a few gas stations, a single RV campground and more grasshoppers than grass, giving the totally surreal effect of walking through waves of green that magically sprout from your shoes as you cross the fields. And in between all the sleepy houses and the empty streets, in a little corner of no-mans land is one of the most surprising museums we’ve ever seen. Welcome to the Pioneer Auto Museum of Murdo, SD.
Established in 1954, this fabulous museum has over 300 vintage cars collected lovingly over many years by AJ ‘Dick’ Geisler. But, it’s not just cars. AJ was apparently a bit of an obsessive history buff and couldn’t stop with just autos. He collected paraphernalia, signs, phones, motorbikes, trucks, gas pumps, dentist equipment, apothecary bottles and just about anything he could lay his hands on from the 1890′s onward. The museum is actually a small town with ~30 buildings and has a fully stocked 1950′s grocery store, a 1900′s county jail, a schoolroom and so much more. It’s dog friendly too and you’re welcome to bring pooch to the show.
As they say, not at all what we expected, but what a fun surprise.
The entrance to Pioneer Auto Museum
A rare 1953 Packard
A 1913 Humpmobile and other early 1900's cars
An old piece of Hotel Dakota...$1/night for the cabins
Collections of old trucks
As we’ve driven out of an arid 10% humidity in the desert and well into the sweaty 80% of South Dakota my thoughts turns to sticky stuff. Call it brain going to mush if you will, but my mind always has a strange way of thinking that manages to surprise even me (always a way to keep yourself entertained). So, as I sit and watch the evening sunset, listening to a wild chorus of cicada’s reverberate around me and entranced by the clouds of mosquitos twirling above the last evaporating heat of the day I think of sticky things and that brings me to sticky memories.
You see, sometimes you may wonder what you’re doing in life. Whether it be wild adventures, bumming on the beach or a tough job that works you 80+ hours a week, we all at some point question our purpose. And the truth is, what we should be doing is making sticky memories….things that we’ll remember for years, the type of experience you look back on and reminisce, the stories you tell your children and grand-children….things that remain glued in your mind forever.
Today, as I sit here and watch this wonderful theatre that is nature, I’m thinking “yeah, this’ll stick”. So, whatever that may be for you go and find it, for life is really only the sum of your experiences and the ones you remember are the only ones you can carry with you.
View across the Missouri River....it's a sticky one, for sure
We’ll we’re off East and further “out there” so not sure we’ll have blog access for a few days (we’ll see). In the meantime it’s time to say a last goodbye to the Black Hills of SD and our 2 weeks here.
The Pahá Sápa, so named by the Sioux Indians for their dark Ponderosa Pines, are a sacred and rich hills wrapped in controversial history. Originally traditional hunting grounds, the hills were assigned to the Lakota at the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. However, peace was not to be. In 1874 General Custer discovered gold in the region and the draw was irresistible. Within 2 years 10,000 prospectors filled the area and a year later the US government seized back the land. It was the beginning of the massive Gold Rush the age of migration to the West.
All this history is wrapped in the hills and there for you to experience, and we’ve been under, over and across to see it. Jewel Cave, the 2nd longest cave in the world (151 miles) lies ~12 miles West of Custer, and the area is flanked by another monster Wind Cave in the south. Marking the north is Mount Rushmore where the road leads all the way to historical Deadwood. Closer to Custer is the remarkable private undertaking of Crazy Horse, which will eventually be the largest mountain carving in the world and displays a wealth of Indian culture and history. And, of course there’s the hills, the berries, the wildlife and the hiking.
Well worth a visit. As they say “we be back…”
Sunrise at Stockade Lake in Custer State Park
Wildflowers in Custer
Hiking Hellhole Canyon w/ Paul & Polly in the East
The stunning Jewel Cave
The Crazy Horse Monument. It will eventually be 563 feet (172 m) high and will depict Crazy Horse on his mount pointing to the land of his people
The Black Hills as seen from the top of Lovers Leap
Posted in General Musings & Travel Tales, SD
Tagged Black Hills, Black Hills history, Crazy Horse, Custer, Custer State Park, Deadwood, Fort Laramie, General Custer, Jewel Cave, Lakota Indians, Mount Rushmore, Pahá Sápa, SD, South Dakota, wildlife, Wind Cave