June 23, 2017
An exciting, ever-changing evening of wind and rain. We woke up reasonably refreshed and happy, though. We made coffee and oatmeal with our little camp stove, and warmed up in the western morning sun.
We’re staying at a private campground called Spokane Creek, it’s quite nice. Lynne and I haven’t stayed in very many private campgrounds, and this one seems to be a rather popular with the big Sturgis Motorcycle Rally folks. After leisurely breakfast, we drove the twisty roads through the Black Hills up to Mount Rushmore. These roads wound around each other, over bridges and corkscrew like hills, it seemed to me a lot like an adult roller coaster! It was really pretty around Mount Rushmore, and the kids filled out their junior ranger packets. We also got them some junior ranger hats– they look absolutely adorable wearing these matching hats. After this we drove around more twisty roads in the Black Hills, had a lovely picnic in Custer State Park at a beautiful lake named Sylvan Lake. Robby opted for the “1970s lunch,” consisting of Triscuits and Underwood Deviled Ham. The rest had more modern, “healthier” cuisine.
More twisty gorgeous roads took us down to Wind Cave, where we saw a heard of buffalo and several calves, big prairie dog towns, and even one fox cavalierly trotting amongst the prairie dog mounds.
We took a fascinating guided tour at Wind Cave, with Ranger Earl leading the way. So far, there are 149 explored miles underneath a one square-mile patch of land. We took stairways up and down, looking at all kinds of beautiful rock formations. The kids loved it, especially when Ranger Earl turn off the lights. We went in the modern entrance, but the natural entrance to the cave is a small hole about 18″ wide that the Lakota Sioux Indians believe that the first herd of Buffalo emerged from this gateway to the spirit world. The air pressure below and the air pressure above vary just enough that there’s almost constant wind either going in or out of the cave.
After the tour, the kids got their junior ranger badges, and we drove our way around the Black Hills back to our campsite.
The kids found a pack of other kids to play with, and Lynne and I relaxed by the fire. We were exhausted, and went to bed around 10.
The Black Hills of South Dakota
June 23, 2017