The Great Northwest Adventure
May 31, through August 20, 2006
We left Missouri the end of May, after spending a month resting up and visiting. We spent a night at Wilson Island State Park in Iowa, along the Missouri River. We have been lucky so far as the biting bugs and mosquitoes have not been around much, even here at the river. Lots of Lightning Bugs to watch, and birds in the tall cottonwood trees to serenade us to sleep.
We have arrived home. Here is the Mighty 350 and rig parked under the water tower at Emery, South Dakota. We visited our mailbox to pick up some mail, went to the county building and registered the vehicles, even got SD drivers licenses. David no longer dreads getting pulled over and trying to explain why no address matches on the paperwork. It is very weird not having a Colorado license for the first time in our life.
We spent a couple of nights at the Lake Mitchell Campground in Mitchell, SD. Mitchell, located on I-90, has a large Cabala's Outfitter Store and is famous for the Corn Palace. Each spring the Corn Palace arena is redecorated using the crops from the area to make murals upon the outside walls of the building. JoEllen found some shorts and pants, and some great hiking boots at Cabala's. If you have not visited a Cabala's store before, be sure to stop and see all the amazing animal mounts and live fish in giant tanks.
Badlands National Park
June 3, 2006
We are still heading west on Interstate 90, destination Badlands National Park. The climate changes west of the Missouri River and the green farmlands turn to dry prairie. As we travel further west, the rugged badlands break the landscape, puncturing the prairie like a set of great serrated teeth. This is our first visit to this Park, and I am sure we will return. The erosion of the hills is a constant thing, with fossils poking out of the strata and every rainstorm uncovering a secret left behind eons ago when ancient creatures died here. The moving sun creates shadows and changes the landscape throughout the day. The campground has no shade, and we spend an uncomfortable evening here in the heat.
Black Hills of South Dakota
Mt. Rushmore National Park
June 4 to June 14, 2006
See the tiny people atop Teddy giving him a nose job?
Next stop is the southern Black Hills, still in South Dakota. We are staying at Custer State Park for a week while we tour the area. This is the third trip here for us and the scenery is still breathtaking. Wild animals are abundant and there are miles of hiking trails for us to loose the weight gained eating the homemade pies bought at the farmers market last month in Missouri.
The Mighty 350 negotiates the narrow roads like a mountain goat, at one point clearing the sides of a narrow tunnel on the Needles Scenic Byway with only inches to spare. Here is the truck under one of the pigtail bridges on the Iron Mountain Road.
As we travel through the countryside, we have seen many creatures, wild donkeys, Mirriam's turkey and their tiny chicks, both mule and whitetail deer, elk, buffalo, and mountain sheep. Every turn in the road reveals God's handiwork in the forming of these hills and its creatures.
Thought you would like some humerous shots of the Mighty 350!
Dino, Six Ton Prarie Dog, and George
We enjoy visiting the many museums we find along the way. In Custer, we found the 1881 Custer County Courthouse Museum. This building houses mounts of native birds and animals, rock and mineral specimens, photos from the 1874 Custer Expedition when the Black Hills were still an American Indian reservation, weapon displays and untold other items. Well worth the minimum charge for entrance.
The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City is a very unusual place in the Black Hills. This museum has a large display of fossils and minerals including many dinosaurs assembled for viewing.
The Keystone School was built in 1900 and used until 1988. This school now is a museum features Carrie Ingalls' memorabilia from Little House on the Prairie fame. We had a great time on the walking tour of Old Keystone visiting the historical buildings of the area.
Deadwood, South Dakota
June 11, 2006
Deadwood has the Adams Museum, originally a collection of curiosities, but now greatly expanded into a true history museum. Among the curiosities here is a mount of a two-headed calf. Surprisingly, there is yet another mount of a different two-headed calf at Saloon Number 10 in downtown Deadwood as well. In downtown Deadwood, we found displays of movie memoribialia including this M*A*S*H 4077 jeep.
Although not a museum, David went on a walking tour of the Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood. This location is high above the town on a steep hillside and the final resting place for Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Seth Bullock and Preacher Smith and 3400 peoples from all walks of life.
Hot Springs is home of the Mammoth Site, an Ice Age museum filled with huge fossils displayed as they are uncovered. We walk through a 26,000 year old sinkhole where mammoths, bears, lions, and wolves once walked and died. Remains of 55 mammoths have been found and lots of excavation is left to be done in the future.
The Black Hills Mining Museum is located in Lead just up the hill from Deadwood. This town was so named because of the numerous leads of gold stringers found in the quartz outcroppings. The museum is a giant collection of memorabilia from the Homestake mine, the largest and deepest mine in the Western Hemisphere reaching more than 8000 feet below the surface, and other effects from the miners of early Deadwood. The ground was so rich that the
entire mountain was removed and mined for precious metals leaving a very impressive hole. The Homestake mine ceased mining operations in 2002.
Devils Tower, Wyoming
June 15, 2006
Devils Tower stands proudly in the heart of Wyoming's Bear Lodge Mountains rising 1,267 feet above the grassy prairies and pine covered buttes of this rugged and legendary land, located in the northwestern reaches of the Black Hills. In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt designated Devils Tower as the nation's first national monument.
This place was originally called "Bear's Den" on early maps from 1850, but in 1875 the name was changed on questionable translation of a supposed Indian name meaning "Dwelling Place of the Bad God".
Other Indian names for this amazing place are:
- MATO TIPILA, Lokota for Bear Lodge;
- TSO-I-E, Kiowa for Rock Tree;
- WAX?ANK?SIJA TIBI, Assiniboine for Place Where Bears Live;
- MAHDO WAKUPE, Mandan for Bear's Hat;
- WOOX-NIII-NON, Arapaho for Bear's Tipi;
- DAXPITCHEEAASAAO, Crow for Bear's Home;
- NAKOVEHE, Bear Lodge in Cheyenne.
Like the Native American Indians, we are awe inspired at this magical place of God's making.