Friday, September 10, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

We had a great weekend in the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota.  It began Saturday with me picking Ann up at the Rapid City airport.  We headed out from the airport to Badlands National Park where we took the loop through the park.  It is understandable how it got its name from being difficult to travel through or live in.  It was quite interesting how the prairie abruptly changes into the rock formations.  The formations are all a bland grey color from volcanic ash.
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park

Since the end of the loop ended at the city Wall, home of Wall Drug, we decided to go ahead and check it out.  It is the ultimate gift shop, if you are interested in such a thing, extending a full block long.  From here we headed back “home” and called it a day.

Sunday morning we got up and headed to Mount Rushmore.  I liked it more than I thought I would.  The old movie on its creation was really cool.  We next headed out on the scenic Iron Mountain Road through the black hills toward Custer State Park.  This was a very slow, curvy, pretty drive that included tunnels, pig tail bridges and whatever it took to wind through the hills.  We stopped for a picnic lunch and climbed until we could take some pictures of Mt Rushmore way back across the hills.  Custer State Park was also very pretty with more prairie openness.  We got our first look at Pronghorn Antelope here but learned the rest of the weekend that they are everywhere.
Mount Rushmore
Deadwood SD

The weather forecast for Monday was not good and we wanted to have nice weather to visit Lead and Deadwood so we took off back north, past our RV park, to visit these historic mining towns.  Lead was very sleepy and reminded us a lot of Bisbee AZ or Hancock MI as it was built on the steep hills.  Deadwood was far from sleepy as it was full of casinos and does a lot of advertising (successfully) to attract tourism.  Both towns had nice old buildings (by American standards) and were fun to walk around.  Deadwood is where Wild Bill Hickok was killed and buried so we wrapped it up by doing the touristy thing and went to the cemetery to see his grave along with Calamity Jane’s and a few other famous people.

We woke up Monday to a cold, raw wind as predicted.  However, the overnight rain had stopped and by 9 the clouds were breaking up.  We decided to drive back south to Wind Cave National park with a stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial along the way.  As we drove, the sky cleared nicely although the cold wind continued to blow with gusts of 40 mph.  We took a cave tour (no wind in there) and learned how this cave was formed differently than most other caves and thus had unique formations.  When we left Wind Cave we decided to check out the town of Hot Springs which had a lot of nice old sandstone buildings.  We saw the turn for “The Mammoth Site” so we did a spontaneous stop there to see one of the largest concentrations of mammoth bones found anywhere.  It was impressive.  At this point we headed back to Rapid City for dinner.
Wind Cave National Park
The Mammoth Site

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