I Think We Entered the Twilight Zone

Memories are a funny thing.

It’s not always the best, most pleasant occurrences that stick with us; that lodge themselves deep inside our brain. Often times it’s something shocking, absurd and downright frightening that we seem to latch onto forever.

We had one of those moments on our recent cross-country trip. Even though we experienced plenty of really cool, beautiful things this is the memory that I know will be engrained in our minds as one of the “highlights.”

We were driving down the highway mid afternoon somewhere in South Dakota. No houses were in sight and very little traffic. Every little bit we would see some grazing land with a few beef cattle roaming in the distance. Out of nowhere we noticed a sign in the distance stating there was a general store at the next exit selling buffalo jerky. My husband is a big fan of dried meat so we decided to pull off and visit the shop.

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The place was called Buffalo Ridge General Store. As we stepped out we noticed things weren’t exactly in pristine condition. The building was a bit dilapidated and there was no other vehicles in the parking lot. However, we forged on with our mission to get some buffalo jerky for my husband.

The front of the store

The front of the store

As we entered the store I was dumbstruck. It appeared as though we had exited the year 2013 and were catapulted into a time warp from 1978. The merchandise scattered here and there had a thick layer of dust on it. Everything was dirty including the floors and shelves. I really had to go to the bathroom but there was no way I was going to explore the facilities that were located right up front with the door half off it’s hinges and the words “Bathroom” painted on in crude handwriting.

There was even a pay phone in the store for their patrons use! Who still has a payphone??

There was even a pay phone in the store for their patrons use! Who still has a payphone??

Two men greeted us. One was fairly old and the other was middle-aged. I’m assuming they were father and son. They were very friendly and asked where we were from. When we told them Wisconsin, they wanted to talk football and we enjoyed some banter with them for a bit. On the counter in front of them sat a bin of packaged buffalo jerky. We inquired about it and they told us that they make it themselves and that it’s the best around. We purchased $20 worth. The men then motioned to another door and told us there was another room that the kiddos might enjoy.

Here is what we saw when we entered:

Well, isn't this special?

Well, isn’t this special?

It appears that it is just another room filled with more merchandise that they are trying to peddle. Tucked away though in various corners of the room were life-size animated figures behind cages. When you put a quarter in the slot the rooms would light up, the figures would move and a recorded commentary or music would come on.

Here is an old saloon set-up:

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There was also one with a man tanning buffalo hide:

Notice the layers of dust on this guy!

Notice the layers of dust on this guy!

I think Iris is saying, "I can't believe we paid a quarter to see this!"

I think Iris is saying, “I can’t believe we paid a quarter to see this!”

And then we found the icing on the cake:

This one played creepy music and the gorilla's eyes lit up red.

This one played creepy music and the gorilla’s eyes lit up red.

The gorilla guy is quite possibly one of the freakiest things I have ever seen. I also think he scarred my children for life. Notice the looks on their faces while they are watching him:

Cesar is thinking, "No 2 year old should be subjected to something this scary."

Cesar is thinking, “No 2 year old should be subjected to something this scary.”

Bency is saying, "I am going to have nightmares the rest of my life."

Bency is saying, “I am going to have nightmares the rest of my life.”

It’s safe to say that Buffalo Ridge General Store is like nothing I have ever experienced. It will be a memory I will carry with me until my dying day. It’s not just due to the bizarre, off the wall nature of the store itself either. It’s because 3 hours down the road, my husband asked me to crack open that bag of buffalo jerky I purchased so he could give it a try. As I began to search the car I realized I didn’t have it. I must have set it down to put a quarter in one of those crazy animated shows and forgot it. My husband will never let me live that one down.

The buffalo pasture adjacent to the store.

The buffalo pasture adjacent to the store.

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36 responses

  1. Melissa thank you for sharing stories, and photos of another part of the world. It is great to share not everyone have the means to travel. Your children will appreciate their trip with the family, and all lessons learned later in their future. Continue to Be A Blessing because you’re Blessed. Mtetar

  2. I’m thinking you saved your husband the worst case of food poisoning in history! I can’t believe he was going to eat ANYTHING from that place, let alone buffalo jerky!!!
    ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I like your thinking! What a positive spin to put on that situation! He should also be happy that I didn’t stock up on canned corn as well. All of the cans on their shelves were dusty and dented!

  3. I bet that jerky would have been the best EVER! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think it’s awesome you guys checked out the quirky. And then shared it. And years from now when they see their faces in these pictures they will immediately be transported to that long ago 2013 twilight zone of 1978.

    • I’m not a jerky connoisseur or anything but it truly did look like the freshest, best looking thing in the place! We really are “take the road less traveled” kind of people and stayed off of the major highways. It took us a little longer I’m sure but it was a lot more fun!

  4. Oh Mel – I’m sorry but I have to say – glad they weren’t playing banjos! Then I look at the pic of the buffaloโ€ฆand think how their life will turn out ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Hopefully hubby has forgiven the mislaid incident now. x

  5. Oh no! And here I was waiting for you to describe the deliciousness of the buffalo jerky! That’s funny how in the middle of nowhere, you came across a “funny show”! I bet that’ll stay with you until your dying day. And the look on the boy’s faces says it all!

    • The funny thing Joyce is that I actually think I handed the bag to my husband to hold and that he set it down somewhere and forgot it. However, since he can’t take the blame for anything he keeps saying that I forgot it. Every time he brings it up I say it is a good possibility that it was me but it could have also been him. This will be one of those “comedic arguments” for the rest of our lives!

  6. Hi Mother hood…. another good post. I just gave you a follow… this is Ellie, I have a new blog now and used to follow vs versa, nice to see your still on the up and up !!

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