Since we started on the road, my access to Sprint service had been non existent, thus limiting what I could post. In fact, Sprint killed my service as I was roaming too much, and the hotel internets were very spotty. So I had to wait until we got home (Val and I left for KC from Cheyenne).
Once we got to the black hills we headed up to Deadwood and had a fantastic dinner at the Social Club above the No. 10 saloon. Valerie, Trey, and Marita all had the Buffalo sausage ravioli which was probably the best pasta dish I have ever had. I ordered Chicken something or other as a backup to Val’s dinner, which was quite tasty, but then ended up eating half of her dinner. Everyone was stuffed when we left. A night in the Franklin-Silverado hotel, and the next day we head further south. Steve greatly injured Lin in deadwood, I believe in a poker game. Lin was holding black aces and eights.
The problem with our 2 day stop in the Hills is that it just isn’t time to see everything. You really need a minimum of a week to make a good stay of it. I would have liked to take crew through Spearfish Canyon, Lead, Homestake Mine, and down into Moonshine gulch, but we were so limited on time. If you decide to take a vacation up there, make sure you plan at least a week.I felt like we were constantly on the go without getting to stop and really enjoy some things, but at least we got to see quite a bit. Next year I think Val and I will spend a week up there with the Jeep and get off the beaten path!
We took the highway south to Pactola Reservoir where I spent time as a kid. There are tons of picnic areas that we frequented over the years, and I remember going to Pactola quite a bit and watching all the windsurfers. It was quiet as could be when we were there.
From there we continued south and found our way to Bear Country USA! Intended as kind of a funny tourist stop, it was actually one of the best stops of the trip. You drive through a 250 acre area filled with wolves, bear, bison, antelope, reindeer, and other various animals. What a great time! The Mustang almost failed the Bear Country USA top gear challenge when the clutch started acting up. If your car has trouble, you have to put on your flashers and honk your horn until help arrives as you can’t get out of your vehicle for obvious reasons! Next time we strap a lb of hamburger to the bottom of the Mustang.
The artic wolves were cool!
As were the Timberwolves, Black Bear, and Reindeer! Most of them were separated in their own areas by cattle grates in the road to keep them from crossing into other areas.
I think the timberwolf was trying to find a way over the cattle grate to try and get to the reindeer!
At the end are the little baby and smaller animals such as fox and coyotes. The baby bears had a rumble royal! Best 32 bucks spent I think.
From there we headed down to Keystone to grab some lunch before heading out on Iron Mountain Road which is a really fun winding road with pigtails and tunnels. You can see Mt Rushmore through most of the tunnels. After the first pigtail, KITT caught on fire with a little battery short, but that was resolved shortly and we were on our way.
Iron Mt Road takes you down deep into the Custer St Park, where we took the wildlife loop and saw antelope, the large Bison heard, and a few prairie dog towns.
On our way back north, we drove up Mt. Coolidge which takes you to 6200 feet. From the top you can see the face of Crazy Horse, Mt Rushmore, Needles, Ellsworth Airforce base, the badlands, and a few states. The Jetta tried to take the IROC at the last corner on the gravel road, but couldn’t quite squeeze through, lol.
From there we headed north through the Needles Highway which again is a fun curvy road. There would have been some nice hikes to go off on, but time was a limiting factor as we wanted to make Rushmore by 6. We went by Sylvan Lake Lodge which would be a great place to stay. From there we headed to Mt Rushmore to see the evening lighting ceremony. A short hike around the base of the faces before it started was pretty cool. My phone didn’t take a good night shot, but it was totally worth it to do at night. Few people, nice cool air, and a pretty neat presentation. I had ice cream….strawberry. Lin did not have ice cream.
The following morning we all went our separate ways before leaving down. Val and I went up to Wrinkled Rock Climbing area and poked around a bit. They had some nice hiking trails which we made use of.
One of the sheer rock faces that people climb up. Picture doesn’t do the actual size of the rock justice.
Then we all gathered up back at the hotel. Lin’s car got booted for parking over the line. After we sorted that out, we headed down to Crazy Horse. The Crazy Horse project was started by one man, and is continued by many of his 10 kids today. It is a completely privately funded operation that relies on donations and visitor fees. At one time, this mountain was completely symetrical, and that much granite has been blasted away. For size comparison, the entire 4 faces of Mt Rushmore would fit inside crazy horse’s face and hair. It will be years before completion, but will show Crazy horse pointed off in the distance while riding his horse. The horse head is the next thing to be sculpted.
From there we headed south to Cheyenne. It was quite a boring 4 hours with nothing to see, so no pictures there. Our stop in Cheyenne took us to my parents house where we ate and drank a lot of alcohol. Dave missed out on seeing my Dad’s wood working shop. The next morning Val and I had to high tail it for home, so we left the rest of the crew under new leadership. I would imagine by now that most of them are in jail.