September 14, 2004 South Dakota

I am in love with the Black Hills of South Dakota. If it weren't for the harsh winters, I could gladly settle down here. We've had mainly good weather with some high winds and rain in between--warm days & cold nights. We've done most of our touring on the motorcycle--great roads thru the hills (especially Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway). We've visited the presidents at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse nearby. It's been 50 years now and only the face is finished at Crazy Horse. No telling when it will be finished but it is very large and impressive. The Native American Museum there at the monument is quite interesting and so are the other sculptures on display.

Mount Rushmore: Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt & Lincoln

Crazy Horse Mounument

We spent three days in Custer State Park and would have been happy to stay longer. We mainly toured the park on the motorcycle again. The first day on a hike around Sylvan Lake, I got very ill, so we were reluctant to take any long hikes for the next couple of days. The roads afforded us many good views of both granite outcroppings (needles) and wildlife. The Park is known for its bison herds and has plenty of antelope, elk, deer, big horn sheep, prairie dogs, etc. The interesting animal fact we learned was that mountain goats are not truly goats but antelope. We found this particularly strange since we had just learned lately that pronghorn antelope are not truly antelopes but closer akin to goats. Weird! Of course, prairie dogs are rodents, not dogs, but we all knew that one. There are four resort areas in the Park--it's huge--and lots of things to do if one is here in the summer. Many activities such as cowboy cookouts and sing-alongs were no longer offered because of the lateness of the season. The Black Hills Playhouse which is also inside the park has closed for the season. The last play was "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Don't think I mind missing that one.

Big Horn Rams at Custer State Park

Bison Bull

We also drove through Wind Cave National Park which is quite pretty and offers spelunking opportunities for those so inclined. Being claustrophobic, I stay out of caves, and Riley abides by the philosophy that "if you've seen one limestone cave, you've seen them all." Not quite true, of course, but works for us.

Tomorrow morning we will make our way north and east across South Dakota heading for Fergus Falls, Minnesota, to visit Riley's uncle and aunt, Gene and Dorothy Porter. This will be a new state for me and I am looking forward to it.

Love to all,
Margie & Riley

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