Archive for the ‘South Dakota’ Category

Had to take a chance

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Between Hot Springs and Custer State Park is Wind Cave National Park.  We knew nothing about it, had never heard of it but we haven’t been in a cave this year so why not!  Plus it is always cool inside a cave and it was pretty warm in South Dakota this week with lots of crazy storms in the afternoons so off we go!  It is one of the oldest National Parks and you would have no idea a cave was here, it is below a prairie of small hills with lots of grass.  We checked in and got our tickets for the Fairgrounds Tour.  It involved lots of steps so we thought it might not be that popular, but it was.  Our tour was at least 30 people but the guide was amazing and we saw so much and really enjoyed our 2 hours inside the cave.





Box work, something that you don’t usually see in caves.  It looked like someone had poured water over a sugar cube!



More Box Work

It was an amazing cave and we are so glad we took the leap to try something we had no idea about.  It was an amazing experience.  This whole area is amazing and definitely on our list of returning, for now we are on our way to Colorado and more exploring of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Might be my favorite place!

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Hot Springs is definitely a very small town who’s claim to fame is the natural spring that runs through the town.  The water is very warm and then allow you to swim in the river (creek) where people have dammed up spots so the water is waist deep.  The kids love it.  The town also boast of Evans Plunge Mineral Spa where they use the spring water to fill their pools and water slide.  So it is a kind of playground for kids but adults with aches also use it.  It costs just like an amusement park so we passed but the parking lot is full everyday.

Saturday we took a stroll town along the river.  They have a spring that puts water right out of a rock where the people are lined up getting the water in jugs.

Kidney Springs

Kidney Springs

That’s the name of it and they built a gazebo around it.  The locals come and fill many jugs and use the water for everything.  It comes out of the wall warm so we passed on getting any.  A little further down the path is a water fall

Small but a waterfall none the less

Small but a waterfall none the less

We didn’t get any details about this but it was definitely an attraction as everyone that walked by had to touch it and get a photo, (Us too!)

After spending time checking out town we took a drive to Custer State Park which is just north of us and very close to Mt. Rushmore.  I think most people just do a drive thru on their way to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument but this park is huge and amazing!  There are four scenic drives with four different areas to camp and play.  We took the wildlife drive first and saw lots of Buffalo.  They like their buffalo in these parts.



There are lots of babies this time of year and they are really cute, very shy.  We also saw a big herd of burros which were all over the road and people were out of their cars petting them.  I was amazed at the parents letting small children walk right up to them alone.  My experience is they can be mean.




Really cute and they mostly were ignoring the crowds.  For some reason one of the males got upset and started snorting and as he got louder the burros started scattering.  That was enough for me.  I was back in the car and just waiting for someone to get hurt.

Praire Dog

Prairie Dogs, how cute is that?  They were everywhere, just hanging out above their houses and watching the cars drive by!


Custer State Park may be my most favorite place.  There are so many different facets of this park.  It has wildlife on Prairies, Lakes that are just beautiful.  My most favorite is the Spires.  Needles Highway travels right through the middle of the spires.  We even took a very nice hike through them.


This one is an eye of the needle

Catherdral Tree in Rocks

Catherdral Spires Custer SP5

Catherdral Spires Custer SP4


Driving through the Spires!


Traffic Jam at the tunnel through the Spires




Motorcycles love the Needles highway; weekends are very crowded.  We visited 3 times,  I just love this landscape.

At the end of the Needles Highway is Sylvan Lake.  What a beautiful lake with amazing vistas all around it.  The water was a little cold so I didn’t really swim but I did wade.



We also have been playing a lot of tennis in the mornings before going out exploring.  This is definitely a great stop on our way to Colorado.



Somethings you just have to see to believe

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

When you are driving up the mountain and you get your first glimpse!  WOW!!!

Can you name all 4? No cheating, leave the internet out of this!

Entry to Rushmore, with a flag for each state

The details! Did you know dynamite can do this?

A profile of a president

There just are not words or picture that will do Mt. Rushmore justice!  You have to put this on your bucket list.  The monument is amazing, and the National Parks Service does a great job making it accessible.  The Black Hills where the monument is are beautiful in their own right.  I didn’t know South Dakota had such beautiful mountians!

A few miles from Mt. Rushmore is another truly amazing project that has been in the works since 1948 is Crazy Horse Monument.

The mock up!

The completed statue will truly be amazing.  On the site they have amazing plans and so far have built a wonderful space for Indian heritage.  Someday they will finish the monument and I hope to return to see it.

Devils Tower, the first National Monument, named by Theordore Rosevelt is less than 100 miles west of Mt. Rushmore in Wyoming.  We did a day stop here.  You can see the monument from miles away and it doesn’t look like any of the landscape of the area.  It is huge.  People love to climb it; we chose to check it out from afar on our way to Billings MT.    The area was very desert like with a huge canyon with amazing colors leading up to the Monument.

Devils Tower

WOW!  3 amazing Monuments in 3 days!

I thought Harleys were for tough guys!

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Bike week in Sturgis, South Dakota was something we talked about attending and then decided it would be just too much work and very expensive.  Instead we took several days to see Minnesota and North Dakota hoping to arrive after all the bikers went home.  That was the plan but as we inched closer I could see Paul hoping we could at least hit the tail end!  So we arrive in Rapid City on Friday night, parked the rigs and headed the 40 miles to Sturgis.  As we are driving we are seeing the clouds becoming darker and darker!  Just as we are arriving in Sturgis the sky opens up and floods everything.  Bikes are parked under over crossings, in gas station bays, everywhere.  Rain and Motorcycles really don’t go together.  We make it into town and find parking so that we can enjoy the evening of Sturgis craziness!

Just one street!

Thousands of bikes

We were there for the final weekend and many bikers had already headed towards home after spending many days riding the hills and playing in the bars each evening and there were still so many bikes!  All kinds of bikes, all kinds of people.  I met a single lady that was my age, lost her husband and decided life was too short and bought a bike and finds herself returning to Sturgis each August just to ride her bike with fellow bikers and enjoy some craziness in a life of routine, work, family, etc.

Having a couple of beers with our biker friends!

We found ourselves a bar with lots of activity!  Dancing girls who will show you a bit of chest for a nice tip!  Just a bit of crazy and then back to real life!

Just for FUN!

Everyday people come here, business men & women, doctors, lawyers, accountants the ones that can afford these bikes and then there are the guys that spend their last dollars getting here all enjoying the same beers and watching each other do things they will remember for a really long time!!  I am not sure I could do this for a week but it was really fun for an evening!

They can grow grapes in South Dakota? Really!!!

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

You wouldn’t even know you changed states when you cross from North Dakota to South Dakota.  The scenery is the same, lots of corn that is drying up and sunflowers.  We found a winery that will allow us to spend the night if we will taste their wines!  Yep, we are in and we brought the Garvey’s with us!  You might ask, Wine from South Dakota?  Do grapes grow in the snow?  ChrisaMari winery is owned by  Randy and Nita who are fulfilling Randy’s dream of being able to work the land and do something he loves.  Nita supports him and helps him in his dream everyday!!!

ChrisaMari Winery

Two RV’s show up on a Friday night.  Randy & Nita meet us and invite us to sample many of the wines they are producing or experimenting with.  The most unusual was the coffee wine.  It was wine but definitely tasted like coffee.  Not my favorite but then I am partial to Starbucks!

Well do you like?

Of course we bought a couple bottles!

We learned a lot from Randy who has definitely developed a passion for sharing his love of wine making.  He takes very hard to grow grapes, fights freezing winters, experiences 2 years without a crop because of spring hail storms and makes wines he is truly proud of.  They are definitely not California wines but then as he says “California is a perfect wine growing region.  They have the perfect weather, perfect climate and perfect soil.  They better be making perfect wines”    We enjoyed our stay at ChrisaMari, enjoyed a very cool evening storm and moved on to Rapid City the next day.  We will enjoy the wines we bought along the way and remember our evening at the winery in South Dakota.