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While the beaver adorned the campground's welcome sign, rabbits were the main attraction at this quaint South Dakota campground. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Come journey with me through South Dakota for awhile as I relive my explorations of the state during the fall of 2008. 

 “The world has different owners at Sunrise … Rabbits and blackbirds have the lawns; a tortoise-shell cat who never appears in daytime patrols the brick walls, and a golden-tailed pheasant glints his way through the iris spears.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 Travels With Maggie

Maggie and I settled in for a week at the Beaver Lake Campground so as to have time to explore the nearby sights. Located three miles west of Custer in the eye of the Black Hills and just 25 miles from Mount Rushmore, this delightfully rustic campground couldn’t have been more perfect for my needs.

There were brown rabbits

And there were white rabbits

 There was also a waterslide, but since I was visiting after Labor Day, summer’s last hurrah, it was closed for the season. The friendly campground owners’ other family enticement, however, was still available for viewing. A colony of rabbits freely roamed the campground. The park owner said he wanted to provide something kids could enjoy watching and released a few. Of course you know what rabbits do.

 I guess I’m still a kid because I did enjoy the bunnies ‘ visits outside my RV, especially in the mornings when I sat drinking my cream-laced coffee while my sleep-in canine companion, Maggie, snored the morning away.

 Travel is all about knowing when to hit the road and when to stay put. Thankfully, I usually get this right.

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Surprise discover of a Marlin Perkins statue in a small Carthage, Missouri, park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

Travels With Maggie

“If we are strong, and have faith in life and its richness of surprises, and hold the rudder steadily in our hands. I am sure we will sail into quiet and pleasant waters for our old age.” — Freya Stark   

Marlin Perkins

 When you’re on the road, you know you’re going to visit the Mount Rushmores and the Niagara Falls. Perhaps, like me, you even do a little bit of research about these great places beforehand to enhance your understanding and enjoyment.

These mega-star travel sites, the Grand Canyons and the Old Faithfuls, are – and should be – musts on bucket lists. But it’s the little surprises along the way that give meaning to my journeys.

In Carthage, Missouri, one of these surprises was a statue in a small park. I asked my traveling companion, a single female traveler like myself whom I had hooked up with for the day’s outing at the Red Barn RV Park, whom the statue honored. She didn’t know, but she was as curious as I was to know the answer. So we stopped.

Nothing could have delighted me more than to discover the statue was Marlin Perkins. This gentle man’s exotic animal adventures on TV’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom back in the 1960s and early ’70s had fed both my love of nature and my wanderlust. A native of Carthage, Perkins was among the first to bring exotic wildlife into America’s living rooms.

The bronze statue of Perkins, created by Carthage artists Bob Tommey and Bill Snow, has him kneeling with a giant pair of binoculars in his hand. As a birder whose binoculars are never far from hand, I felt a renewed kinship with this man who loved and worked to protect nature and all that exists in it.

May I always remember to allows take time in my traveling schedule for such surprises.

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