August 1-10, Custer, South Dakota
Leaving behind some pretty great friends and Minnesota we head towards Custer, South Dakota with an over night stop in Mitchell, South Dakota.
While walking with LaciLou, around the campground in Mitchell, she finds another sweet little fur baby that she wants to meet. There is no changing her mind, she plants her feet down and won’t move until there is some sniffing and greeting between the two!! Which turned out to be a great meet and greet for us as well. While LaciLou meets her new friend, Harley, we meet his pack, Joe and Debbie, who after chatting a while, we find out they are from a little town not to far from Camp Alexander, in Georgia. It’s so amazing how small this world is, we now have met a couple of people on our travels from North Ga.
We all really had a great time chatting in the street and before we know it we are all going out to dinner, yes, Mexican, and to the one thing that Mitchell is known for….The Corn Palace!!
The Corn Palace, was built over 100 years ago, as a way to show the world that South Dakota has a healthy agricultural climate. The current building also hosts basketball games and tournaments, concerts, dances, exhibits, proms, as well as many other events.
A different theme is chosen each year and the murals are designed to show the theme that decorate the inside and outside of the building. Ears of corn and other materials are nailed to the palace to create the scene.
The corn palace is decorated each year with naturally colored corn, corn husks, other grains, and native grasses, There are 13 different colors that decorated the palace, red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and green.
Decorating usually starts in late May, they remove the old murals, and add new ones that are completed by the end of October.
The next morning we were up and headed west, and decided at the last minute to stop at Badlands National Park, not knowing if we could drive our coach towing the truck thru the park. (Since we are 71’ long there are not many places we can go fully attached). We found out that the 240 loop through the park was going to be just fine for us, there was smaller rv in front of us.
What a truly amazing drive it was, the park is 244,000 acres with both barren land, prairie land and layers of rocks painted rose, gold, green and sandy colored. The wind and rushing waters of rivers have eroded the dry, fragile soil, gouging out channels and gullies leaving deep gorges and gullies. There are cliffs, odd rock formations, and rock spires. Everywhere you turn it is breathtaking.
Finally, back on our way heading to Custer, amazed at what we just experienced, wondering how could it get any better, but it does. Our GPS takes us thru Rapid City and down to Custer State Park, which is in the Black Hills of Sth Dakota.
I frantically look at the map…can we take this road…are we to long…are there tight curves that we can’t make…yikes…I get out my trucker app…if they can go we can go!!
Ok, stop sweating…we can go..
It takes about an hour to get to our campground, Custer’s Gulch, it is just outside the park entrance on the west side. This campground is a great place to spend the next 10 days, lots of room, grass and we found out we can take our buggy out on any of the streets or mountain roads as long as it is registered (it is in Arizona).
The town of Custer was about 10 miles from our campground is the oldest town in the Black Hills and surrounded by granite rocks and Ponderosa trees. Along the street of Custer, are life sized painted buffalo, that will be auctioned off at the Custer Stampede Buffalo Auction in September. The town is loaded with restaurants, art galleries and stores of all kinds.
Guy found a woodcarving museum in town so off we went to check it out, all the work was done by one man who was at one time a chiropractor. He carved miniature and life sized figures, miniature steam engines, paintings and furniture. He even designed and built the animation at Disneyland.
Within 30 mins from town you can get to all the National Park sites, Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument. Guy and I had 10 days to try and do and see it all. We drove down to Hot Springs and found the “New Prehistoric”, which is an active working excavation site, that have found 61 Columbian and wooly mammoths, wolves, camels.
The most exciting was the drive on the Wildlife loop in Custer State Park, which is 18 miles long, we are told there should be buffalo ( the park has 1,300), pronghorns and prairie dogs, mountain lion, big horn sheep and burros.
I was so delighted when the first animals we saw were a field of prairie dogs. They were funny little creatures, they chase each other, roll around on the ground, one came out from his hole with dirt all over him from playing in the dirt.
A few miles down the road we did find 3 different herds of buffalo but they were so far from us it was hard to get any good pictures.
Driving further there was a smaller herd not to far from the road and were lucky that one of them decided to walk in from of the truck. I was standing up thru the skylight trying to take pictures.
Along one of the pull outs we found a group of burros sticking their heads into car windows, and people out of their cars petting and feeding them.
A few days later we decided to take another trip on the wildlife loop to see if we could get some closer pictures of the buffalo…we did not see one buffalo…I was so disappointed.
Then out of the corner of my eye I see some deer in the field..I had Guy stop and I got out to walk across the street…it was a small group of pronghorns. That was amazing as I had never seen them before…I tried taking pictures but when one car stops…guess what happens…so do 50 other cars…I did get a few decent pictures.
We have just started touring this beautiful area, we have driven the buggy into town, up and down the mountains and thru the trees, but we have more that needs to be explored.
Come back and visit us so you can hear about the presidents, Indians and bikes!!!