A lazy day at the hang! 😀 Not really, but it is a day to sleep in and our only task is to get our friend John Merkle to the airport for his flight at noon so he can return in time to go to work on Monday. So we do that and then swing by one of our favorite towns in South Dakota, Hill City. We love the old western town feel and they really have a wide variety of shops, restaurants and other touristy things that Vicky is drawn to like a moth to a flame!
We have eaten in most places in Hill City, but keep coming back to the Bumpin Buffalo Bar and Grille. They make a huge 1 pound burger we split and today we sat on the roof top deck in fantastic weather and watched the town go by while we ate and drank.
We went back to the campsite where Brian and Susan and Carol had prepared another fantastic meal for the last night of the hang. Some people had to go but it was still a great crew to spend time with.
We are not normally here on Sunday as we too have to usually start for home on Saturday so I can get back to work, but being unemployed has its advantages and we can stay for the whole week and then some. I woke up really early- too lazy yesterday- and went for a walk to get some early morning pictures of the lake
After saying goodbye to everyone after breakfast it was just the four of us left. Brian, Susan, Vicky and myself. We made sure the campsite was clean and everything was better than we left it. I should mention that this year the park had put in a new toilet block and that was very much appreciated as the smell was greatly reduced coming from that area!
After leaving Vicky and I had plans to go back and spend the night with our friends Saundra and Barry at their home again before heading back toward home. First however we had the day ahead of us and decided on on of our favorite drives.
The Needles highway and then on to the wildlife loop at Custer State Park.
This time we went on a scenic tour of some other high points and made it up to the top of Mount Coolidge, which you can drive to the top at 6063'
The old fire tower lookout was built by the CCC in the 1930's
Then it was on to the wildlife loop at Custer State Park and the Wind Cave area.
Today we were not disappointed as lots of animals were out enjoying the weather. My personal favorite the Bison and a warning best heeded
The begging burrows were also out today and really doing their best to stop all the traffic and stick their noses in every car to see what they could get away with eating.
Hi my name is Pedro, can I have your potato chips
So after a great day of slow driving, stopping off at Wind Cave Visitors Center and the Custer State Park visitors center and taking the back half of the Needles highway back to Mt Rushmore, we drove back into Rapid City.
What a perfect setting for dinner. A lovely day with the entire extended family.
A perfect sunset in the Black Hills to cap a great day
Monday morning it was up and headed east but not too far. Vicky and I have been to every State Park and attraction in South Dakota but one. The new Minuteman Missile site just right outside the Badlands National Park.
This is a brand new facility and has some great displays covering the actual missiles but also has some great cold war exhibits that can be very sobering to view.
You need to make reservations in advance to actual go down in one of the deactivate silos and command centers and it turns out they are booked months in advance, but you can do a self guided tour of the actual launch site just across the highway from the visitors center
The deactivated missile is still in the silo just as it has been for decades. I highly recommend a stop here for the historic value, exhibits and reminder of how scary these things are!
We decided to stay the night in Wall and then headed right over to the Badlands. We both love this park and the great landscape features it offers. We spent some time
driving around the loop road and stopping and looking at all the formations
This is the first time I have seen so many bighorn sheep in the park.
The colors were particularly good today with the yellows and reds of the different layers contrasting with the normal grays
a beautiful hillside as you drive down the loop road
A pair of Bison in sea of grass
After dinner we wanted to come back through the park and see the colors at sunset.
We were not disappointed as the colors were extremely vivid as the sun set.
A soft haze on the horizon meant we could look directly at the sun and get some great "other worldly" photos
The dusk brought out the herds of deer and bighorn like I have never seen them before.
Also a new sign. Evidently a few tourist have been thinking they can walk up and try and pet the prairie dogs like they were your house Ginny pig.
We caught a huge herd of Bighorn sheep crossing the park road and followed them onto BLM land. It was fun to watch them wonder among the RVs that had parked for the night on a ridge overlooking the valley just outside the park. The sheep didn't seem to care as they nimbly headed down the cliffs
After spending the night in Wall, we stopped in to Wall Drug on a quiet Tuesday morning as they opened to get the famed cake donuts for the long drive home.
Crossing over Chamberlain SD and the Missouri River, we stopped at the rest area with the Native American Dignity Statue.
It is very impressive and worth a stop to view
Another 9 hours and home, an excellent 10 days out for us and other great trip to the Black Hills and to visit friends.