Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Badlands to the Black Hills, SD

We met a lovely couple of Road Trekkies at the KOA Campground in the Badlands. We chatted, compared rigs, and discussed the next stops on our trip.
They said they had just been to our intended destination, Custer State Park and added that it had hailed there each of the three days they were there.

On the 90-mile drive to Custer, we passed Rapid City, through Keystone, and visited Mt Rushmore (more about that in my next entry).

The last section of road into the area was the incredibly scenic and curvy Iron Mountain Road. Through one-lane stone tunnels (honk when you enter so no one comes in – you hope -- the other side) and over wooden pigtail bridges.

It was raining hard as we approached the Stockade Lake Campground at Custer State Park and started hailing as we were pulling up to our site. Big and loud hail stones. Glad we were forewarned!

Tuesday, we took the morning caravan tour. In addition to the naturalist leading, there was only one other car with us. The four stops we made on the Wildlife Loop rewarded us with incredible sightings – prairie dogs, pronghorns, a 13-striped ground squirrel, burros, many area plants and birds, the largest Ponderosa Pine in the area (and we learned firsthand that the Ponderosa Pine bark smells strongly of vanilla). Sounds good, huh? But I was also pining to see some bison. We spotted some scat in the road and then saw a buffalo moving through the forest. I thought, as did the naturalist, that maybe that would be all we saw that day. We drove towards the last stop and just before we arrived, turning a corner, we encountered a herd of approx 500 bison. We saw them, heard their deep humming growl, and watched as the babies nursed.
Well, that’s what we came for…

That’s enough of our itinerary for now. I plan to share our observations of Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse soon.
My computer connection is slow and spotty so I won't try to respond to emails or post photos now.

As far as mood… ten days in and this is all still feeling like a vacation. I’m wondering if/when that will change. And how.

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