By Jensen Goodell
A few weeks ago, interns Alex, Paige and I set out West River to help The Outdoor Campus – West – with their Outdoor University. Being from Minnesota, the last time I was that far West was when I was three years old, and believe it or not, I don’t remember it. As any good friends would do, Alex and Paige made sure I got the full West River experience. Don’t worry, we also managed to do our job.
I would have to say that Day 1 was the most touristy day we had. Naturally, our first stop was historical landmark Mt. Rushmore. Let me tell you, the pictures of it are gorgeous, but nothing beats seeing ‘The Faces’ in person. Next, we set out for Sylvan Lake where part of National Treasure 2 was filmed. Sylvan Lake was absolutely beautiful! If you have not been there before I would highly recommend checking it out. Don’t be afraid to explore some of the ‘unbeaten paths’ either, that is where we found some of the most gorgeous views. For lunch we traveled to Hill city where Paige promised Alex and I that the Alpine Inn had the best steak. She was totally right. If you find yourself in that area of South Dakota, check it out.
On the second day we set out to do our job, helping out at The Outdoor Campus West. The interns there did a great job of welcoming us and showing us around the campus before starting classes for the day. The Outdoor Campus West is brand new, the facility is so beautiful. Did you know that they had a tree house there? After work, Paige, Alex and I explored downtown Rapid City, where we came across a street dance and lots of interesting vendors.
Day 3 at TOCW was pretty busy getting ready for the big event, Outdoor University! The whole afternoon was dedicated to making sure everything was set for the upcoming day. After work we headed to supper but then retired to our hotel to get a good night’s sleep.
Rock reads: “There are better things ahead than anything we leave behind” found at Poet’s Table
We arrived early at The Outdoor Campus West to help set up for the big day. Once Outdoor University officially started, the day was steadily busy. Alex and I helped with paddling and rock climbing, while Paige was busy helping families fish on the dock. Once we finished taking everything down and getting it put away, everyone met for pizza to celebrate surviving the heat and the crowd!
Before heading home we decided to explore one last time. This time we got up before the sun to beat the heat and hike to poet’s table at Black Elk Peak. We definitely took the unbeaten path to get to Poet’s Table, but it was well worth it. We found pieces of writing dating all the way back to the 70’s. It is something I will always remember, and I hope to return to someday. Paige, Alex and I left our own piece of literature behind at Poet’s Table highlighting our trip out West. This was an unbelievable experience and truly a ‘Great Place.’
The video version of our trip with more pictures is linked below. Grab your adventure buddies and get out to explore South Dakota, it’s pretty amazing. https://youtu.be/otuyB6CBrYg