Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back from the Dakotas

... and actually I've been back from the Dakotas for a few days now! Sorry for the delay in posting, but I had a number of projects waiting for me on the return.

My final scheduled stop in North Dakota was Medora, a gorgeous little town with a BIG tourism appeal. It's located at the south end of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the North Dakota Badlands. Medora has a number of other tourism attractions, including a nightly pageant presentation, a cowboy hall of fame and many, many gift stores.

My first appearance was the Western Edge, which I think has GOT to be one of the greatest bookstores of the west. Owned and operated by Doug and Mary Ellison (they're on the right - summer help Colin is on the left), it has just about every western title now in print. They were nice enough to host me for a book signing at the store and I think we did well, selling six or seven. The Ellisons also put me up at night in one of their rooms - the Western Edge is a former motel, but they found that selling books was an even better business. They keep rooms for friends passing through and how great is that?

I then traveled over to the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site for my presentation of the "Lost Forts of the Northern Plains." Site supervisor Dee Linn was my host there (she was also nice enough to treat me to a buffalo burger lunch at the Cowboy Cafe upon my arrival in town!) - I didn't quite pack the room, but it was good practice and I got some good questions.

Finished with my obligations for the day, I was able to hit the Custer Trail auto route south of town and made it to the Battle of the Badlands site, which was actually part of the Sully Campaign of 1864. I returned to Medora for a pizza before turning in for the night.

The next day had me striking out for South Dakota and the Black Hills. I made a long-planned for stop at the Fort Dilts battlesite (this was never a fort but a sod enclosure to hold off Indian attacks for about two weeks). I stopped in nearby Bowman, ND, to visit the Pioneer Trails Regional Museum to see if they had the book and, if not, maybe see if they were interested in carrying it. He bought seven! I decided to do this for the next couple days in between visiting battlesites and forts and ended up selling and signing 40 copies for six museums and attractions in the Black Hills. So please stop by the Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche; the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish; the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City; the 1881 Courthouse Museum in Custer City; and Fort Hays south of Rapid City!

I also got in some sightseeing, driving through Custer State Park and its tunnels, spending time with the burros (photo), and viewing Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial from the road. The day finished out at Wall, where I signed the inventory of my book at the Wall Drug bookstore (they had ordered eight before I left home and had sold one since). It is really an impressive western bookstore. I made camp for the night at a campground in town.

The next morning - Wednesday, the final day of my trip - had me in Pierre for a signing at the Prairie Pages. Before the signing I stopped to see my new friend Ken Stewart at the state archives and made a visit to the South Dakota National Guard Museum, which I had always missed finding open in previous visits to Pierre.

The people at Prairie Pages were great! They had bought an add in the local paper and radio time before the signing, so we had a fairly decent turnout - nine sales all in all, plus owner Peggy bought some for inventory (that's her on the right, with Betty and Lula Mae who also work in the shop). After that, I made the long drive back home to Omaha.

BIG trip - just under 2,500 miles - but well, well worth it.

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