After living in the state of South Dakota for two years, I finally made a "rapid" trip out west.  All I can say is wow...just wow.

Who knew that so much beauty was just on the other side?! Once you cross the bridge over the Missouri River in Chamberlain, you almost have to question if it's still South Dakota.  But, it is!  You automatically breathe a sigh of relief and allow nature to overcome any stress you may be experiencing. It's comforting and warm like a friendly "hello."

This was my first time visiting the Rapid City/Black Hills area, and I am still in awe of its beauty.  The air was crisper, there was always appears to be something new to explore, and you had a great sense of American pride being surrounded by such overwhelming history.  At least that's how I felt.

I tackled this new adventure with my mom and sister.  One of the first places that we stopped at was The Badlands.  It is truly a sight out of a movie, and the welcoming committee even came out of hiding.  Yes, we saw Big Horned Sheep!

I have never seen these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats.  My sister and I tried when we first Estes Park in Colorado, but we weren't as fortunate.  This encounter at The Badlands was totally classified as "beginner's luck."  We ventured into some trails after seeing the sheep.  We did most of our hiking at Badlands on our way back to Sioux Falls.

Horseback riding was another top item on the itinerary for this trip.  My sister, Katie, and I always try to ride horses on vacation.  Roaming around the Black Hills on horseback certainly gives you a different perspective and allows you to visit hidden areas of the hills.

One of the last (and most important in my opinion) places we went to see was Mount Rushmore.  I finally...finally saw the biggest National Monument in the country.  While visiting the historic site, I could not stop looking at or taking pictures of Mount Rushmore.  I never felt more patriotic than I did while I was there.

I know some South Dakotans say they get tired of seeing Mount Rushmore after just a few visits. Similarly, individuals from Illinois say the same thing about traveling to downtown Chicago.  However, I don't think I would ever get tired of seeing Mount Rushmore.   It's just incredible...there are simply no words to describe it for me!

I wish I had more time on this trip.  I am already so excited for my next journey out west that I've started mentally preparing a list filled with both new and old adventures!

South Dakota...you continue to amaze me.  Thank you for welcoming this city girl into your little slice of paradise!

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