Bill and Helen/ 2011 travel blog

Prairie berry Wineries entrance

Nacked Wineries

Awesome spot to cool off

This is way back in the back hills

Needles Highway



It just doesn't get much better then this


Still ont he Needles Highway


Eye of the needle

small truck coming through

You shoul be here when teh tour busses come through

Purple Martin babies

Me trying real hard to ride a bullfalo for my friend Jo-Anna.....

It had been a few years since we had spent much time in the Black Hills for more than just overnights so we had not been on a tour of the wineries here.. There are four of them in the Hill City/Custer area and Saturday was a good day to try them. Or so we thought… The temperatures were so hot outside that I think just about everyone had the same idea.. Get in an air conditioned car and drive to air conditioned buildings.. Wow was it ever crowded where ever we went.. One of the ones we tried was called the Naked Winery with a slogan of “We aim to tease”. I can’t even begin to tell you the names of the wines here since we have a young group of kids that are following out blog and my face would turn red but even with the names they had on them, the wines were very good and we bought two bottles…

Our favorite one was the Prairie Berry Winery.. This is a home owned winery that makes all their own wine from the berries found in the Black Hills… They have some awesome gooseberry, chokecherry, crabapple and many many others but their Red Ass Rhubarb is where they really shine.. this has been an award wine for many years and it was so good that I had to get two bottles of that one.. The Prairie berry Winery also has an excellent gift shop and a kitchen… They serve wonderful Artisan Plates of Cheeses, buffalo salami’s, olives. Hummus Plates , Chips and guacamole or a trio of several things served on their own home made ciabatta breads…They also have several flat grill sandwiches and open faced sandwiches, home made pizza’s and awesome looking desserts.. Wow, we had already eaten lunch but we couldn’t resist buying some of their ciabatta bread, a roll of cheese, apricot and almond spread.. They added a container of their herbal butter to have alos… We brought that home and had it with some of the German wine we bought for happy hour… Turns out that it was so filling that we didn’t need dinner….We also did not go out for a ride thru the park like we planned after drinking the wine… It was so hot I don’t think any of the animals would have been on the loop road anyway…

Sunday was a day of snooping out some new areas in Custer State Park.. For years we have been driving thru the area and saw roads going off in other directions but never checked them out.. We found some awesome places that we haven’t seen before.. Beautiful lakes and picnic areas that we didn’t know were there but you can bet the locals did and with the heat, they were all taking advantage of the beautiful swimming spots… Hope I can find the pictures I want to show you..

Next we took our usual drive on the Needles Highway only this time we did the road in reverse of our usual way… Wow, what a different view this was. .Same road, different view… It was awesome… Just before you get to the Eye of the Needle you still have to go thru the tunnel that is so narrow we have to pull our mirrors in on the truck to get through and then on the other side you find this awesome rock formation.. It still amazes me after seeing it several times… We came off the Needles Highway at Sylvan Lake.. Another of our very favorite places and we really did plan on climbing to Harney’s Peak this time but not in 100 degrees… No way Jose`…

Monday we stayed home in the morning but shortly before noon Bill asked me if I wanted to go to lunch at the Blue Bell Lodge that is inside Custer State Park but not too far from where we were staying.. This is one of my favorite places to eat.. Didn’t take me long to get ready and away we went.. The food they serve at this place is just so good and just perfect for the setting… They have an outside patio but with the heat, nobody was out including us… Bill ordered their special which was an awesome prime rib sandwich smothered in red and yellow peppers and onions.. This came with cowboy beans that were cooked with ham and some shredded meat that we are pretty sure was buffalo.…. My lunch was ½ cheese sandwich with ham added.. It was huge and their was so much I could hardly finish it.. With it came a cup of soup that was the best black bean/ham soup I have ever tasted.. I would give anything to get this recipe…

We drove to one more of the lodges in the park just to see the lake and just as we came out of the gift shop we looked up to see a nest with three baby purple martins in it just waiting for mom to come and feed them.. She was sitting a short distance away watching us like a hawk but as soon as we moved off the deck she fed one to the babies.. I hurried to get my camera out of the truck but she didn’t come back while we were there so I settled for getting pictures of the babies only..

The rest of our day was spent getting ready for our departure the next morning and watching the deer come down to us one last time… It was a wonderful week in the Black Hills and we sure did love our stay at Custer Gulch… So much so that we are thinking of renting it for the season one summer…We’ll have to see how that works out but it is such a beautiful area and kinda in the middle of so much of our family that it just might work out…

More Later. Down the road…..

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