A Weekend Back in South Dakota

"Downtown" Johnson Siding, SD

I needed some time out of the miserable heat of Las Vegas.  I booked a cheap Allegiant Air flight and headed to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I lived in a small mountain community there for close to 5 years and from time to time I feel the need to visit.  I certainly miss the people up there.

The community I lived in is called Johnson Siding.  As much fun as it sounds to live out in the woods, after a few years the novelty wore off.  The people are great but driving 15 miles to the grocery store is not.  Still though, I like to go and visit.  It clears my head.  Seeing my old friends in the hills is always a great experience.

I started the trip by seeing my old friend Gonzo787.  We worked together at Bonuswhores.com and he now works for Poker Affiliate Solutions, my former employer and a company that I still do some part time work for.  We had the best Chinese food I’ve had since I left South Dakota.  It is hard to believe but the Chinese food in Las Vegas is terrible, it is as bad mall Chinese food.  We talked about the online poker industry and I ventured up to my vacation rental which is the two story building in the picture on the left.

I dropped by the Happy Tavern which is in the center of the picture to see my old friends.  The Happy Tavern was the local hangout, as you see from the picture there are not too many choices.  It was a great place to get to know the locals.  The bartenders are all great.  Unfortunately I missed one as she was out of town but got to catch up with several people I had not seen in six months.

I then headed up to Deadwood and did some work for an upcoming project I hope to have live in a week or so.  I took a lot of pictures, then headed to the Silverado to play 5/10 Omaha High/Low.  After that game broke I headed back to Johnson Siding to help close the Happy Tavern.  It was great to be somewhere that it got close to freezing at night.

The next day I headed back up to Deadwood and got the rest of my work done on my project.  That night I headed back to Johnson Siding.  I ran into the person that bought my old house.  We went back to the old house and had a couple of beers to close the night.  I like the couple that bought the house and I know they fit in well with the neighborhood.  It is funny to be invited back to my old house for a beer but that is just how the people up there are, as friendly as could be.

The next day I went to another old neighbor’s house where I watched my Carolina Panthers get beat by Chicago.  I said hi to a few other neighbors and the next morning it was time to head back to Las Vegas.  Luckily when I got back to Las Vegas it had cooled down.

If you have never had a chance to see the Black Hill in South Dakota it is a must see.  There is Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, Sturgis and countless other attractions.  A short drive will take you to Devil’s Tower and the Badlands.  The National Forest is over 1,000,000 acres.  There are hundreds of miles of scenic drives.

When you live in Las Vegas you need somewhere quiet to go and get away from everything.  The fake green in the desert just does not compare to seeing real forests.  I will be back up there in the winter.  I already cannot wait to see the snow and feel the bone chilling cold.

4 thoughts on “A Weekend Back in South Dakota

  1. I can relate to what you are saying here. When I was younger, I too lived far from the bustling crowd and the noise, not to mention pollution, that is too typical of city life. From time to time I miss it.. .where most people, if not all, know everyone. People are really nice and you feel you belong. But like most other people we tend to go seek for greener pastures in the city like I did. It’s hard to go back once you’ve lived most of your life in the city. Thank goodness visiting the place where I grew up is not halfway across the world. So, a few hours drive once or twice a year is not impossible.

  2. I live in Rapid City and am a frequent visitor to the Johnson Siding tavern. I never knew the name was “Happy Tavern”. It is truly a dive, but I like the place.

    I am curious why you bought in Las Vegas? Your previous notes indicate that you believe the schools are bad, the cops are bad, the mass transit is impossible and you can’t wait to get out. I was thinking of moving there until I read your criticism.

    So which is it? A shithole or a great place to live?

    • Hi Ray,

      I did not write the article that you are referring to. I believe that you are reading the “10 Worst Things About Living in Las Vegas” that was written by Vegasrex and linked to from one of my articles. The one on my site is the best things about living here. I have been in LV for about 15 months. It is a different world and I still like to go up to Johnson Siding or Deadwood to get away but I am glad I moved. You will just have to get used to the culture shock if you have never lived in a big city before. I lived in Atlanta for 32 years so I was prepared. The schools are fine in the suburbs but a bit crowded. The cops are an interesting situation but if you are in decent areas they leave you alone. They certainly deter a lot of criminals through fear of getting shot. I have never used mass transit anywhere but it seems the bus system here is fine.


      • Apparently “Vegas Rex” lives a totally different life style than you. He probably wouldn’t like Johnson Siding much either.

        I have a friend that plays poker in Deadwood frequently. He considers it like taking candy from babies. I think I am one of the babies.

        Good Luck and Happy New Year!

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