I read on the internet (purveyor of unlimited truths and fabrications) that the Inuit language has over 40 words for snow. In South Dakota, the locals have almost that many words for the frequently occurring icy projectiles that descend from the heavens here. Yes, hail will get you if you visit this state no matter how short your stay. But, the descriptions that I learned in North Carolina like “pea-sized” are rarely useful in this unstable meteorological environment. Lofted upward on cold air columns, the hail here is born larger than a pea before it even begins its fall toward the nearest windshield. To the right is a list of descriptions I have heard here used for predicted hail.
Today the forecast is for Gorilla hail. According to the local horse owner who shared this warning with my friends, Gorilla hail forms when a giant ape grabs the hail from a high building and snatches it into its paws… just kidding I have no idea what this is and I hope I never find out. Staying vigilant to the possibility of imminent icy destruction is stressful and time consuming enough for me. I am not complaining though. Like everyone else who comes to spend the summer in the refreshing temps and among the neighborly folks here in the Black Hills, I have accepted the hail risk as part of the South Dakota experience. Fingers crossed that I don’t acquire too many vehicle damaging mementos of my visit here.
Each time I volunteer in Spearfish, friends, other volunteers and locals all insist that I must make the short pilgrimage north to Medora, North Dakota. This tiny town in a sparsely populated state has built up a miniature Branson like following. Many people begin their evening entertainment in Medora with the Pitchfork Steak Fondue supper. A short walk from this beefy repast is the Medora outdoor theater. Each evening at twilight an extravaganza called the Medora Musical is performed. One of the singer/dancers this year is from Durham, NC. I felt right at home enjoying the music and history of this tourist town as told through song and dance.
Medora is also home to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park where you can visit the petrified forest or mounds and mounds of prairie dogs. This park’s North Unit consists of Badlands littered with the occasional cannonball concretion. However to get to the North Unit requires a 2 hour round trip drive from Medora into another time zone.
On our trip up to Medora Matt, Sherry and I are invited to take a brunch break and dine with friends Cal and Peg at their home in Buffalo, ND. I was thrilled to see them and to get a break from the monotony of driving through North Dakota. Unfortunately, the highways and back roads between Medora and Spearfish offer only the occasional cow herd to break up the otherwise featureless terrain.
The Enchanted Highway
To remedy that situation and increase tourist traffic through his off the beaten path town of Regent, ND, one artist enlisted community help to create the “Enchanted Highway.” Thanks to Dean for suggesting that we travel back along this route. I marveled at the entertaining works of art and was thrilled to see something besides unbroken vistas of prairie grass as we motored back to Spearfish.