Posts Tagged ‘south dakota’

Video Tour of My Rig in Daylight

October 10th, 2009 5 comments

A month and a half ago or so, it was requested that I share with all y’all how my rig’s outfitted for travel. Right after that, I shot this video. And now? Now I’ve bothered to post it. It’s from a while back and it’s kind of long (8.5 min.).

Ah, sweet memories of South Dakota. And by “Yellowstone”, I meant “Yosemite”. And the truck has never been that clean or organized in actual practice.


(LMK if the video doesn’t work.)

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Deadwood, Live Tourists (Day 51, Part 2)

September 7th, 2009 Comments off

I’m guessing Deadwood’s peak is when the bikers flock back to Sturgis. I’m a little disturbed by the number of bikers there are on our modern highways. Actually, I’m mostly just disturbed by the fact that 75% of them are retirees and don’t seem willing to travel at speeds approaching, you know, the speed limit. Meh.

Deadwood: the only town left in America that still thinks Kevin Costner is pretty cool. But good for him — he probably needs it. They’ve revitalized the town’s 19th-century mainstreet through gambling — which is probably appropriate for a town that was sort of built on gambling to begin with. Plus Wild Bill Hickok died here.


In this chair right here, in fact. Look!: you can still see where he ripped the original vinyl!

deadwood_main-streetMain Street, restored.

Most of the people wandering around here were senior citizens. Sort of like Vegas: eyes glazed over, absent-mindedly pushing buttons on slot machines, discussing the qualities of a diverse set of buffets. Oh well. It sort of looked like an old wild-west town anyway.


Legion Lake Campground at Custer State Park

September 7th, 2009 Comments off

Stayed at this campground for a couple nights. It’s noteworthy because only five of the 15 sites have trees anywhere near them, otherwise you’re just camping on grass next to your neighbor who is also camping on grass. Also noteworthy for being overrun with bison.

legion-lake_campgroundThis bison guards the bathroom. And the photo reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns buys the Count Chocula cereal because the picture on the box looks like him.

legion-lake_campground-bisonFortunately, I got a site next to a tree, which offered some protection from the raging herd.

The campsite cost $20/night, but on the plus side the bathrooms have showers in them — you just have to fight through the bison before you can use them (and believe me, once you’ve wrestled a few bison, you *need* a shower).


Norbeck Byway and the Needles Highway (Day 51)

September 7th, 2009 Comments off

My favorite part of South Dakota was driving these two roads. You see the best parts of the Black Hills (even views of Mt. Rushmore!), get to drive through dynamited tunnels, and it’s got interesting bridges: unexpectedly cool. The road goes from about Mt. Rushmore (actually Keystone, a town) into Custer State Park, then heads up north back out of the park to — well, to the park boundary.

norbeck-byway_pigtailFor some reason these are called pigtail turns. You go over the bridge, do about 270 degrees, then go back under the bridge. And if I’d thought about it a little more, I would’ve stopped and taken some better pictures.

norbeck-byway_rock-tunnelAnd there are all these cool one-lane tunnels. Not pictured: the tunnel itself frames a view of Mt. Rushmore (but there was traffic behind me, and…).

norbeck-byway_wild-donkeyUn burro salvaje!

needles-highway_needle-tunnelEvery biker’s true passion: taking photos with a buddy. This was the narrowest tunnel on the Needles Highway — about eight feet wide.

needles-highway_needleThis formation is known as “the needle”. It’s probably better without the shadow, but I wasn’t waiting four-to-eight hours just to find out.

Anyway, point being: cool drive. I think the Black Hills could adequately be covered in a day, though: cave, Crazy Horse, Rushmore, Norbeck/Needles, and you’re out of there, heading toward… huh. There’s not much else around there. Tja.

Also: the rock formations that are the Black Hills’ signature (apparently) reminded me some of the Sächsische Schweiz south of Dresden, except that the “Schweiz” has a big ol’ river, castles, old bridges, and very quaint towns in it. Maybe South Dakota could look into adding some of those. (The similarity of the rock formations is sort of uncanny, though.)


Harney Peak Loop Hike (Day 50)

September 6th, 2009 5 comments

The peak was cool. Tallest peak between the Rockies and the Pyrenees, they say (7,244 feet!). The loop hike itself was not as cool. Hint: if you’re going to hike to Harney Peak, take the shortest route possible. Don’t think you’re going to get extra credit for taking the long route. You just get more horse manure to walk through (or around — you can walk around it).

Not really any photos of the hike on the way up, since there wasn’t anything to take photos of. I mean, trees, horse scats, but — yeah. Not big trees, just trees. Five to seven miles of trees each way.


harney-peak_watchtowerThere’s a fire tower at the peak.

harney-peak_watchtower-panoramaNo fires!

harney-peak_looking-southNo fires this direction, either.

harney-peak_creek-crossingThis is what it looks like when you try and photograph yourself crossing a stream.

  • The hike is probably worth it if you go the shorter route.
  • The shorter route would have you starting at Sylvan Lake. You can make a loop out of it by going back by way of Little Devil’s Tower.
  • Any book that says that the loop starting from Iron Creek Horse Camp and returning via the Grizzly Bear Trail results in a hike of 10.5 miles is off by 2-4 miles. No joke.
  • As much as I love horses (now), it doesn’t seem right that 3% of trail users get to befoul the trail for the other 97%.
  • The trail on the way back down was marginally more interesting because of all the calcite flakes that were in the dirt — it was like someone had spread glitter on the entire return leg of the trail.
  • Calcite flakes don’t photograph well.

I dunno. I don’t like hiking for the sake of hiking. Frex: no worthwhile hike should deliver you to a parking lot two miles into the hike. Plus, aside from the peak, seems like you get better views of better rocks by driving the Black Hills than by hiking them. You know, from what I saw.



Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse, and Mt. Rushmore: South Dakota Tourism’s Holy Trinity (Day 49)

September 5th, 2009 Comments off

I’m guessing many South Dakotans have never heard of Jewel Cave. It’s only the world’s second-longest cave supposedly.

jewel-cave_ascentDescent into Hell! (Er — *ascent*.)

jewel-cave_posingMe with two of the three Filipina-Canadians who kept wanting to take pictures of me for me. If only I’d known they were kind of cute… Oh well: it’s dark in the cave.

Three things I learned from Clint, our cave tour guide-ranger:

  1. Even though you don’t see any electrical wires in the cave, there are electrical wires going to all the lights they have set up.
  2. Jewel Cave is a “National Monument” because it’s focused on one feature (the cave), whereas Wind Cave is a “National Park” because they have stuff above ground, like bison and such. (And Crater Lake is a “Park” because…?!)
  3. No one ever considered using Jewel Cave as a fallout shelter, but it probably would have been a good one (this was my question).

From Jewel Cave, it wasn’t too far to Crazy Horse (20 miles?), the stone carving that — well, the photo tells most of it:

crazy-horse_statueAnd it’s only taken them 61 years to get this far!

The displays at the viewing center and marginally interesting museum make a big deal about the fact that this memorial will be much, much bigger than other memorials like Mt. Rushmore, the Washington Monument, the Pyramids in Giza. One crucial difference, of course, being that THOSE WERE ALL COMPLETED. Ah well. (Actually, I guess Rushmore was supposed to have all their torsos also, but whatever.) Maybe four or five more generations will get it done.

And then from there, it’s just a quick shot over to Mt. Rushmore!

mt-rushmore_cloudNo North-by-Northwest tours are offered.

mt-rushmore_flagsA flag for every state!

While I generally consider the carving of big granite mountains into the likenesses of dead white men a good thing, I don’t think the two on the right belong in the same living room as the two on the left. Heck, Abraham Lincoln presided over the greatest tragedy in American history (and people act like that was a *good* thing). All Roosevelt ever did was start the National Parks system. Seems like an appropriate way to honor him for that would be to name a national park after him. They did already? Well that should’ve settled it then.

IMHO, plainly.


South Dakota: Great Faces, Great Places (State #8)

September 5th, 2009 Comments off

At least, that’s what the state’s marketing department, in association with the state department of transportation, would have you believe.

south_dakota-welcomeIf the sign says it, it must be true.

To South Dakota’s credit, there were far fewer bugs there than there are in North Dakota (apparently). Stayed in a campsite called “Comanche” that was all right also, aside from the camp host selling me wet wood and the neighboring campers washing their dishes at the community spigot. Otherwise, pretty nice NFS campground.

The bugs in ND suck. Just fyi.


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