We can’t believe a week has gone by. After arriving at Beaver Lake Campground in Custer, SD around 4:30 p.m., Roe and I set things up and relaxed. Steven and Deanna found the pool and the 90' waterslide. It is a great campground; clean, friendly and convenient to everything in the Black Hills. The local cowboys come riding by occasionally on their horses. The weather has been great every day, clear & sunny with spectacular lightening storms at night. Only one night was below 50 degrees.
During the course of the week, we discovered "The Purple Pie Place", an ice cream shop that sells the best home made strawberry rhubarb pie we have ever tasted. Had a slice one night and went back the next night and bought a whole pie. Too many choices: apple blackberry, blueberry, bumble berry, peach…. I'm sure they are all equally delicious.
It's very difficult to get a good Internet connection so these updates will not be as frequent as I had hoped. So here's a quick rundown of the past week:
Wednesday, 6/25: After a late start, headed west to Jewel Cave national monument. Took a tour deep into the cave. It's 150 miles and still being discovered. It was very interesting, but our tour guide dragged it out to the point where we couldn't wait to see daylight.
Thursday, 6/26: Headed north to the Crazy Horse monument. This is a colossal work in progress started over 50 years ago and yet only the head is complete. It's completely funded with private funding and donations and there is no estimate of a completion date. It was an impressive sight. Steve and Deanna had buffalo burgers for lunch. Continued on to Mt. Rushmore, another impressive sight, but is dwarfed in comparison to the Crazy Horse monument. After leaving Rushmore we returned to Custer via Iron Mountain Road, a scenic drive with panoramic views of the Black Hills.
Thurs. evening we were invited to dinner with the Kerr's, a family we know from Danbury, who were vacationing in Hill City, SD. Their son, Ryan, is in Boy Scouts with Steven.
Friday, 6/27: A driving day. Started out going southeast to Custer State Park on the Wildlife Loop. Lots of buffalo, antelope, big horn sheep, and prairie dogs. In the afternoon we headed north again on the Needles Highway, another scenic drive. The pictures tell the story.
Saturday, 6/28: Headed north again to Big Thunder Gold Mine in Keystone, SD. No longer a producing mine. We took a tour of the mine and Steve & Deanna panned for gold. They claim there is still gold left from the original mining operation, and Steven and Deanna did find some about the size of grains of sugar. It's kind of a tourist trap, but the kids had fun.
In the afternoon we went horseback riding at Holy Smoke Trail rides. The ride only lasted about an hour but the trail took us into the Black Hills National Forest. It was really rugged and we got a treat watching Steven and Deanna on their first real horseback riding experience. Before we even got back to the stable, they said, "Can we do this again." That's what you want to hear.
Sunday, 6/29: went south to Hot Springs, SD, home of the Mammoth Site. It is the largest mammoth excavation site in the US. It was a nice drive…
Monday, 6/30: took an all-day trip to Devils Tower National Monument located about 100 miles north of Custer in the northeast corner of Wyoming. These natural wonders are hard to describe and again, the pictures will tell the story.
First mishap…while playing with Luke, Howie got his hand caught in his leash, breaking his finger, and is now handicapped. We will forge on thanks to the first aid kit.
Tuesday, 7/1: After packing up on Monday night, we headed for Yellowstone at 6 a.m. Westward ho!