Custer State Park SD

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Custer State Park is the largest state park in SD at ~71,000 acres.  It is in the Black Hills in southwestern SD.  The park has varied terrain from rolling hills with roaming buffalo, hill top drives thru cathedral spires and scenic lakes ideal for summer water sports or ice fishing.   While staying in Hermosa we ventured to the park on several occasions, it was only about 15 minutes west and had plenty to do.  We actually purchased an annual pass to SD State parks because of Custer.  Annual pass was $30 where day passes were $20.

Custer is actually where we finally used the kayaks we have been dragging around for 5 months.  First time we have been around lakes with temperatures warm enough to give it a shot.  Luckily we did not fall out because I’m pretty sure that the water is still very cold.  They actually had snow in higher elevations a couple of days later.  We had a nice paddle and I am sure we will continue to use them during our travels.  It is easy and free with beautiful surroundings.    This is Stockade Lake, there are two others in Custer and we may be heading back to paddle again??

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The “Needles” scenic highway is located partially within Custer SP and is part of the Peter  Norbeck Scenic Byway.  When Norbeck proposed the Needles portion of the byway, engineers of the time (1920) said it could not be built.  The engineer he hired said anything could be done with enough dynamite. The road is very narrow and beautiful.  It is named for This specific rock formation which looks like a needle hole in the needle shaped spires in the area.

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The spires are also referred to as cathedral spires.

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One of the tunnels on the scenic drive is called the “eye of the needle” for obvious reasons.

Custer is also known for their wildlife.  We were privileged to see Buffalo (Bison) with their young

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Lazy Pronghorn (similar to antelope),

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And what appeared to be very tamed Burros…

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Peace and love…

 

Chapel in the Hills, Rapid City, SD

We found a beautiful little piece of heaven in the middle of the small city of Rapid City.  The chapel is an exact replica of the famous Borgund stavkirke, of Laerdal, Norway. The Borgund stavkirke was built around the year 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway.  It was really beautiful, peaceful and spiritual and was recreated here in 1969.

The visit is free although they do accept donations and have a gift shop.  I am not an overly religious person, but consider myself spiritual and do somewhat believe in a higher being.  The taped presentation in the chapel ends with this benediction which I will leave you with no matter what god or gods you may believe in.

As you go on your way, may god go with you.

May he go before you to show you the way;

May he go behind you to encourage you;

Beside you to befriend you;

Above you to watch over you;

and within you to give you peace.

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Peace and love.

Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD

This came as a recommendation from Aunt Anne and Uncle Ron.  I thought it seemed like a commercial tourist attraction that would not be much.  But boy was I wrong.  Commercial in appearance and in their desire to have you donate as much as possible on top of your entrance fee, but amazing none the less.

This is very small area approximately an acre??  Where they have determined that there was an open wet muddy pit with solid yet slippery sides where animals would fall in and not be able to escape.  The excavation shows that the pit was approximately 40 ft deep and they have only excavated ~1/2 of that area.  The amount of remains in this pit are astounding.  The site is enclosed in a building and the excavation is currently going on and you can participate in June and July for a fee.  We may look into another year, who knows.  I make a lot of the fees and request for donations, but this is a not for profit organization and is making amazing discoveries.

The quantity and quality of fossils from approximately 27,000 years ago mostly large mammoth/elephant species is amazing they report having found 61 mammoths in this one location.  There are also bear, rabbits, lama, camel, prairie dogs and more.  What is amazing is that they just located this site in 1974.  A real estate development was beginning to excavate a residential site and dug up bones, who would have thought??

Peace and love!!

Mt. Rushmore

OK, so we are a little disappointed in Mt. Rushmore.  Not the carving or location, but the fact that there is no entrance fee for this wonderful national treasure, but you have to pay to park!!!  As you know we have purchased the Annual pass for National Parks, and other national accessible properties and we are trying to stay on the cheap as much as possible.  On this property, they outsourced the parking and ended up with a never ending responsibility to make the public pay to park.  Makes no since and we refuse to pay 10$ to park at a NATIONAL MONUMENT!!  So our pictures may not be the best, but I think pretty good.

 

S0368520P1080787S0428526These images are all available from the main road if you slow down and stop at stop lights.  We are lucky, there is really NOBODY here.  I understand that it can be snowy and cold in May, but this year it is beautiful.  Today was over 80 with lots of sun and a nice breeze, what more could you want.

We did not know, and really ran across it by chance, but Peter Norbeck designed three tunnels that would frame the Mt Rushmore sculpture being created when it was completed.  The tunnels were located and designed before a road to connect the tunnels was even thought of.  Our tunnel pictures are not so great, but as you drive thru it is really amazing they perfectly frame Mt. Rushmore.  To hell with the $10 parking fee no view is better than these and they are FREE!!!  Also on this famous scenic by way is what is known as the “pig tail”.  This section of road actually turns in a corkscrew.  Complete 360 degrees plus more twice.   Never seen this before and made us giggle.

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Peace and love from South Dakota our new home state!!

 

SD and More..

 

Made it to South Dakota and we are now officially residence and have SD drivers licenses.  Registering the “new” jeep was not trouble at all.  Of course when things go to smooth something much happen it is simply how life works.  The coach has been harder to get registered, but at least we are not driving it around.  We will need to take it to get it weighed before registering.  All paperwork/emblems on the bus have maximum allowed weight not weight empty.  This matters because our annual renewal price will be based on the empty weight.  We cant find this information and although it is not empty by far we will weigh as is and use for registration purposes.  Tanks will be empty.

Thank goodness the Jeep went easy, we had really not used it since Silt, CO because no registration = no insurance = don’t drive.  At least we are able to explore and will register the coach before we move it again.

Driving up the eastern side of Wyoming was uneventful, we saw many more cows than we did people.  It was really interesting how we have been surrounded (or at least in view) of sizable mountains ever since west TX and as soon as we crossed the Rocky Mountains, we are in the plains.  Open land as far as you can see to the east.  There are trees, but the rolling hills are so large that the trees look like toys or the land is just plain flat.

Another strange thing, they/we  (we are S. Dakotans now) have National Grass Lands more than SD really there are a lot of Grass Lands look it up….  Never really knew that or would have thought of that, but there are millions of acres of grass land.  There is grass under the pine trees in the forest.  There is grass, that I would have gladly paid for to grow under my oak trees on Friendly Lane, every where.  It is soooo green it is amazing.  Every where looks like a golf course and it is cow pastures.

We are currently in Hermosa, SD just south of Rapid City and east of the Black Hills of SD.  We’re near Mt Rushmore and the campground has some of the rejects from that project in the front yard.  They are really quite good, not sure why or where they came from, but nice yard ornaments for the week.

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Grass lands…  we are so glad that Hailey has the John Deere and that we don’t have to mow any part of this.

Black Hills, you are in the fields and hills and all of a sudden there is this.  Much better for me driving and walking around with trees around.  Although there are drops it is not STRAIGHT DOWN for 1,500 ft, it is sloped with trees and some underbrush that may break your fall??   So long as your are not mountain climbing which we are not.

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Home in SD for now, Peach and Love!!!

 

Good News and Bad News…

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Good News is we quit smoking on April 14!!! Now over three weeks and it has not been as bad as it could have been. The Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking was right on and has worked. Basically, we are happy to be non-smokers and that is kind of what it takes.   Smoking adds nothing and takes a lot away… Yippee!!!

Bad News is that on April 21st the faithful Jeep that I just praised in a recent post, that we had purchased and equipped specifically to be towed, that should have lasted forever, that only had 115,000 miles on it, DIED??? With much ado we ended up purchasing the same vehicle a 2005 Jeep Liberty with 10Kmore miles than the old one, that is gas not diesel but very much the same vehicle we lost. We choose the same vehicle so that we could reuse the tow, breaking, lights, kayak racks, etc equipment that we already had. So we stripped the old one of everything that was useful to us and donated the rest to public radio. At lease we hope it is donated, we left town on Saturday and they wouldn’t come pick up until the following Wed??? Hopefully we will not hear anything about that vehicle again if we do Hmmmmm

This made our 3 day stay turn into over 2 week stay. Anyway here we go again, a little lighter on funds but on the road none the less.

Crossing the Rockies

From Silt we traveled on Interstate 70 over the Rocky Mountains. Silt was about 5,400 ft above sea level and on the way over the mountains we reached altitudes of over 11,000 ft. We were a little scared of this leg of our trip as climbing that high in the bus or any vehicle could be a challenge. We were prepared to stay to in the right lane and go slow with the trucks. It was a tough trip across, slow going, but we made it safe and sound.

Going up there was lots of varied scenery…

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check out the contrast of green trees and red rocks,

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and the evergreens vs. the new spring green of the trees kind of looks like a map??

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then there is the snow… you can see where they have plowed the bike path,

We stopped just past the Vail Summit at 10,600 ft. it was 68 degrees, I was in shorts and tank top, but others were going snowmobiling.  Crazy…

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I thought that the Vail Summit was the top, but a little later at the Eisenhower Tunnel we were over 11,000 ft. Inside the tunnel we crossed the continental divide.  What a beautiful drive.

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Peace and Love…