Sunday, September 9, 2007

13 - The Badlands

Neither of us had been to Badlands Nat’l. Park, so we decided to check it out. It was a 50 drive east of Rapid City to Wall, where we spent a couple hours at famous Wall Drug (free ice water). From there, a 60+ mile loop drive took us through a portion of the park. The visitor’s center provided all the literature we needed and a video to get us off on the right foot. It was a nice sunny day and the drive was very interesting, with lots of viewpoints to photograph the rugged landscape along the way. The terrain is pretty amazing. It's easy to see how it would slow down a wagon train. Since we're well into September, traffic wasn't a problem at all.

The park has a good assortment of wildlife. We saw some along the road and were glad we didn't encounter some of the others.

Just outside the park is a restored sod house and other outbuildings from an old homestead. It was very interesting, with chickens and geese roaming around and a white prairie dog town nearby. The house was built of sod, including the walls a roof, and had a dirt floor. The geese didn’t appreciate Ron taking their pictures, so they cornered him in a small shed and were threatening to attack until another tourist chased them away. Wildlife can be dangerous!

The geese didn't appreciate Ron taking their pictures, so they cornered him in a small shed, honked loudly and threatened an attack. Just as they were entering the shed to do him in, another tourist chased them away and Ron avoided getting seriously goosed. Wildlife can be dangerous if you're not careful!

12 - Black Hills & Deadwood

We finally arrived in South Dakota on Sept. 5 and checked into the Three Flags RV Park in Black Hawk, a few miles west of Rapid City. The park was conveniently located on a grassy hillside at the end of a short gravel road. It had a nice view of the Black Hills and Interstate 90 and, for Ron’s entertainment, a railroad line was nearby. However, there were only a couple trains each day so we didn’t lose any sleep.

Cloud formation viewed from our campground.

Our list of places to see included the refurbished gold mining town of Deadwood. The town is wedged into a narrow valley and has a colorful history of fires, floods, gold rush, gambling and lots of stories about such residents as Wild Bill Kickok and Calamity Jane. Hickok was murdered in 1876 while playing poker in a Deadwood saloon. He was only 39. Jane died about 1903 of a variety of ailments. Both are buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery high on a hill overlooking the town.
Touring Mt. Moriah Cemetery.
Wild Bill Kickok's grave.

We did a tour of the town and looked at all the old buildings before getting stranded by a cloudburst. We ducked into the Silverado where we had a great prime rib buffet dinner. When we emerged, the rain was gone and the sun was shining. Weather moves fast around here.