Scenic, that’s the Town of… SD

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

“Listen to all the teachers in the woods. Watch the trees, the animals, and all living things – you’ll learn more from them than from books.”


The little Town of Scenic on our way to the Badlands was a wrong turn, as many we do. A few buildings on each side of the street, a small gas station with only regular and as I was a bit low decided to top it off anyhow, what harm can a couple gallons of regular do? Doubled as a store, the shelves were bare with only the necessities one can justify buying when in a predicament. There were some photos up the wall, they look as they had been there a while as I found out the town also had. Early 1900’s.

Downtown Scenic  

There is not much about Scenic on the Internet, much less than the Lady at the counter chatting spilling out some History was kind enough to speak off, and even then, just a little Town with a Bar and a Jail. I guess they went hand in hand in those days. It is in the middle of a desolate area, I don’t think many tourists going to the Badlands make the same mistake as we did, as the only time one will not find a parking space will be during “Sturgis Bike Week”. The Bar is the main attraction as I was told, it was even featured in National Geographic as some exchanges of bullets was not uncommon within the establishment.


The Longhorn Saloon however was closed that day. The population of Scenic can be counted on both hands, exactly both hands… 10, and leaving a Bar open for that count is just not feasible. It was a cool day, not over bearing with heat, the schedule has been somehow shredded long time ago, jacket off and camera in hand I decided to take the big tour. I could not remember the last time I came across such a little town. It turns out in reality that the Lady at the Gas Station slash local store and her grand mother own most of the Town. The sad part and comment about it all, is the fact that there are rental vacancies available, but they will not be rented due to the increased indoor fabrication of illegal drugs… as she said, this is small town, we have no law enforcement, this would be the ultimate hide out… as it was a century ago. Not much has changed.

Longhorn Saloon  
Scenic Jail  

The local jail was still standing, strong as ever, have no doubt it could be used today, besides Alcatraz a while back, this was my first jail time on this Journey.

Scenic Jail  
Scenic Jail  

Two comfortable cells, building off the main street, all the hardware still operational, what more can someone asks for? I have learned a lot about the past American History these last months. Maybe not History per say, but the ways living of the recent past. I am actually writing this from near Denver where we have arrived today, and for the first time the route was mainly throughout East Wyoming. The space many call ‘boring’, as yes, there are no Mountains but only large flat and some hilly plains. Unpaved roads forking off right and left, meaningless they were to me as their destinations but always awakening my curiosity, beyond us rolling down the paved, sometimes due to rain, shiny ribbons, I could also imagine and sometimes see the past travelers on their horses and pulled wagons. I could see the tepees standing up in a circle and the smoke slowly rising to the skies from within them.

Scenic Jail  
Scenic Jail Scenic Jail

So maybe many, as I myself no doubt, have fantasized about how great it would have been to live in that era. Sure they were Sheriffs, Deputy Sheriffs, Judges and much rope used, but mostly all the Law was in the hands of the gun carriers. Meaning everyone, as I can now only imagine if nothing else, the stress level looking over the shoulders with no rest trying to avoid the permanent rest from some powder and a lead ball. Nature was at it’s best within those times, unsoiled yet from the present Human blanket we keep throwing upon, but was there any awareness toward it as some of us have today? Life was raw throughout those years, society was and so also Nature and few were the ones looking upon it as a teacher it is.


As if one jail was not enough, shortly after the Bar was built, another one, this time imported, was added right next door. I find it quite ironic, “right next door”… for all to see and be seen, and who knows, maybe pass a last drink through the metal bars for “one more time”.

Scenic other Jail  

Scenic other Jail Scenic other Jail

That was all for Scenic. There was no one else to talk to, no one was parked besides us, there were no other dogs prowling the street, Scenic minus 10 could have been a well preserved Ghost Town but I don’t think will ever be. About a 1000 miles awaits us to reach “The Oasis” for then plan a bit of winter adventures, local ones and a bit further ones. There is still so much we have not even seen in the neighborhood. I feel as excited about being there as I was for the first time, maybe even more as through these past months, as beautiful spaces we have been within, “The Oasis” has always remained in my Mind and Soul as “the special” and “unique” place to be.

A faint Rainbow  

A faint rainbow lead us yesterday, almost as usual the skies were opening up on our path, always a bit of an eerie feeling. 1000 miles I am thinking, Old Faithful is so close needing some new tires and some fresh oil. I yet have to decide to oblige her here or a bit further down the road. Wish she could decide… and do the work!

Storm southbound

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Thank you and be well…

Ara & Spirit

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3 Responses to “Scenic, that’s the Town of… SD”

  1. Wandrin Says:

    Scanning through the posted photos, the name Scenic meant nothing. However, that was when I noted the white rock set in the wall above the upper right corner of the jail entrance. I was there and have a photo of that jail. Great photo essay of the town. Keep it up.

  2. mazer Says:

    Ara, I love your work, I think about you alot and always hope that you and Spirit are in good health and your trusty steed stays trusty and keeps you following your dreams. I would love to contribute but Im on a limited income. I hope you get published sometime in the near future. The journey you and Spirit are on has brought alot of beauty into many a life, I know it has mine, and I have shared it with many of my friends. My best to you and your furbuddy. Take good care of yourselves.

  3. Ron Says:

    Ara ,
    We were in the “Badlands” yesterday ( 9/16/09 ) didn’t know you were in that area or we would have offered to buy your dinner ! We’re now in Sioux City ,S.D…
    We’ll , take care and we’ll cross paths again one day I’m sure !

    Ron & Debbie

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