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May 12, 2012

Vagabonding Field Reports: Moving to South Dakota. Wait.. Where?


(Border, SD)

“Wait – you’re moving where?”

CP: “South Dakota”

“Why would you ever move there?”

CP: “Well…”

Cost/day: ~$30/day (food / gas / fun)

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

When I turned off the Interstate and into Rapid City, I saw (and promptly ignored) a speed limit sign stating 25 mph. Seconds later, I was braking to avoid rear-ending a Chevy truck. Just as I was about to move into the other lane, I noticed that everyone was driving 20mph. Everyone! And there were no police cars present! That’s when I knew this would be different…

Describe a typical day:

I get up, fix myself some eggs and an espresso, then sit on the small deck to enjoy the view.

(Rapid City, SD)

Afterward, I make a rough plan of attack for the day and (try to) get the most important thing done. Then I tackle the kettlebells for a bit and have some lunch. After that I get out and go exploring. There are so many things that I don’t yet know about Rapid City, that this may involve finding a new place to buy fresh vegetables and butchered meat — or instead, I may head up into the Black Hills for hiking and take the dirt bike out for a trail ride. (BTW – the Black Hills are absolutely breathtaking.)

(Needles in the Black Hills, SD)

When I get back – I tackle all of the work I need to get done, which usually involves being locked in front of a laptop for several hours. Afterward, I head out to grab dinner and try to strike up a conversation to two. When I get home, I lock myself in the shop and work on one of my projects — currently building a Jeepspeed desert racer, since I  have delusions of tackling the Baja 1000.

Sometime late, I come back in and try to get a little writing done. Eventually I crash and do it all over again.

It’s not the most exciting life, but it is how I recharge. I’m finding that South Dakota is that little oasis of serenity which helps me prepare for each new trip or business venture.

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:

I’ve had a few conversations, but the one thing that sticks out is the speed at which everyone talks. Admittedly, I normally talk at a fast clip. When I get excited, I can ramble on faster than a Chihuahua on Red Bull. Now, I find myself intentionally slowing down and often omitting full sections of a story, simply because it will take too long to share. Less is more.

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

When I lay down at night, I absolutely love the silence. You know that total silence where your ears ring a bit? Something about that allows me to simply let go and completely fade out for a few hours.

While I enjoy the tranquility and slower pace of life, I also want access to cities. Rapid City is only a few miles away and has some great amenities – a good theatre, great restaurants and a fantastic watering hole (the Firehouse Brewing Company).

(Rapid City, SD)

Plus there are a few surprises to be found while exploring the town.

(Graffiti Alley in Rapid City, SD)

I’m 2 miles away from an Interstate and only 15 minutes away from the airport. The only minor dislike is that flights into and out of RAP are more expensive and I need to route through Denver or Chicago. All-in-all, a small price in light of all of the benefits.

Describe a challenge you faced:

Internet connectivity. I just recently moved to a 25mbit connection (upstream and downstream) before I left Philadelphia. While Rapid City has great fiber connectivity (the best in the region) – I’m a few miles outside of town, so I have… nothing. Well – not exactly nothing, but my choices are limited to satellite providers, so we’re talking 2mbit down / 300kbit up and a 450mb limit. Four hundred and fifty megabytes per month? I can blow through that in minutes! Luckily the Verizon LTE coverage in Rapid City is amazing (better than Philadelphia) and I’m able to use it to keep up with my business.

In the end, it forces me to be more particular about what I do online and encourages me to get out into the real world. Once I acclimate, I’m sure I will be better off.

What new lesson did you learn?

At this point in my life, I needed to return to my roots. I was born in Montana and spent 6 year in New Mexico. I simply miss the West and this is the right place for me right now — allowing me to recharge while being the perfect base-of-operations for some incredibly cool adventures that are coming up.

Where next?

For the next month or two, I’m simply settling in and exploring South Dakota. I am, however, planning one of the longest trips I’ve ever taken – which will carry me through Asia and Australia later this year (fingers crossed). More on that later – until then, I’m going to soak up this slower-paced lifestyle.

Chris Plough writes and podcasts at, where he shares stories and advice from his adventures and from the incredible people that he’s met along the way. You can also follow him on twitter: @chrisplough.


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Category: Images from the road, North America, Vagabonding Field Reports

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