Tuesday, June 27, 2017

2017 Trip to the Midwest Part 2

Day 8 6/11/17:

We drove from Deadwood, SD to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND. On the way we stopped in Belle Fourche, SD to see the Center of the Nation Monument. We got to the park around noon and found campsite #2 which was one of the last open sites. The next site had a pit toilet behind it which was disgusting! After setting up our tent, we went into Medora and had lunch at the Cowboy Café. We stopped at the Ticket Junction and bought tickets for the Steak Fondue ($29 pp) and the Medora Musical ($39 pp), an outdoor musical. Then we drove around the loop road and checked out the bison, mule deer, wild horses, and prairie dogs. Around 5pm, we went to the Steak Fondue which was very interesting. They put about 10 raw steaks on a pitchfork and then cook them in a vat of oil for 4 minutes. Along with the steak we had baked beans, baked potato, raw carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, coleslaw and bread. There was lemonade, coffee, or water to drink plus you could buy soda or beer. After dinner, we walked along the cliff trail and saw the beautiful view. Around 6:30, we headed across the parking lot to the musical. We had to take an escalator down two flights on the side of the mountain to get to the amphitheater. The musical was delightful but I’m glad we brought jackets and a blanket. Don put the blanket over his legs the whole time. After the show was over, they changed the direction of the escalator and everyone went back up to the parking lot. I was surprised that it was still daylight around 9:15pm. We got back to the campsite around 10:30, just as it was getting dark.

Day 9 6/12/17:

When I got up at 4:30am, it was really cold. I sat outside and tried to read and knit but I was too cold even with a blanket over my legs. I put my hat, fingerless gloves on, fleece jacket over my hoodie and I was still cold. I ended up putting some long pants on. Don got up around 6:30 and we packed up the tent. Then we went into Medora to have breakfast at the Cowboy Café. After that we headed to the Old East Gate trailhead and took a walk with the “ranger” who was an SCA seasonal guide. We learned about the prairie dogs and the old East Gate. After that we went back to the campground and set up our tent on site 67 which we had reserved for 2 nights. By the time we got ice in town, it was time for lunch so we had a hamburger and fries at the Cowboy Café. Then we decided to do all the short hikes along the 38-mile loop road that were listed in the newspaper. The ridgeline trail was pretty and so was the Coal View trail. Around 5pm we went to the Badlands pizza and had a 12” pizza which was huge along with a pitcher of diet coke. After dinner, we came back to the campsite to relax for the night. While we were relaxing, there was an awesome lightning show in the sky that we watched.

Day 10 6/13/17:

It started raining right after we got in the tent last night. Then around 4am, the wind was gusting so bad that the tent would collapse down to my face and then pop back up again. It was so bad that I didn’t even want to go outside and sit in the wind. Around 5am, it calmed down so I got up. Don got up around 7am and we headed to Dickinson where we had breakfast, got gas, and more supplies at Walmart. Then we drove towards the North Unit and stopped in Watford City for lunch at Burgerittos. We continued to the park which was absolutely beautiful. It was very different from the South Unit. We drove the 14-mile scenic road to the end and back. Next, we drove almost two hours to Fort Union which was a trading post in 1821. It was in the middle of nowhere and really wasn’t much to see. It also was reconstructed to what they think the fort looked like.  I don’t think I would recommend anyone going there. It took 2 ½ hours back to the South Unit. We sat and relaxed for an hour before attending the evening program where the ranger talked about “Managing Megafauna” which was interesting. He talked about the bison, feral horses, deer (mule and white tailed), and pronghorn.

Day 11 6/14/17:

We headed to Rapid City, SD and found a room at the Foothills Inn ($89). After checking in, we went to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum. When we got there, we could buy tickets for the tour of Ellsworth Air Force Base and the Minuteman Missile Training Silo for $9 each. There were only 6 of us and we had a great time! Then we went had dinner at Denny’s before going back to the room to clean up and relax.

Day 12 6/15/17:
We had a wonderful morning at Mt. Rushmore. Parking was only $5/year for seniors over 62.  Luckily, we picked the one day of the year that they hold a naturalization ceremony there. Without the ceremony, I can see us spending about 2 hours there before moving on. It was truly moving and exciting. After that we drove to Hill City and met some friends of friends who own a B&B there. Then we went back to Rapid City to an antique store (St. Joe Antique Store) where my hubby spent hours finding treasures. After that we drove to Dinosaur Park (free) which was cute before ending up at Texas Roadhouse for dinner.

Day 13 6/16/17:

We headed to Wind Cave and got campsite C13 at Elk Mountain Campground ($9 per night). Then we went to the visitor’s center and bought tickets for 2 cave tours. The Fairgrounds Tour ($6 for Don and $12 for me) was at 10:20 and lasted until noon. Then the Garden of Eden tour ($5 for Don and $10 for me) was at 12:40 and was an hour long. We had to make reservations for the candlelight tour for Sunday and hopefully we will do the Natural Entrance tour then too After that we headed into Hot Springs and saw a yard sale on the way where Don found a Duck print and stamp. We had a late lunch at Dale’s Restaurant and then drove into downtown. I stopped at a yarn store and Don found some antique stores. After that we returned to the visitor’s center where we bought souvenirs and I used their wifi. We came back to the campsite to relax before going to Ranger Earl’s evening program on Elk.

Day 14 6/17/17:

We got up early and had breakfast at Dale’s Family Restaurant in Hot Springs. Their steak and eggs was only $8.99! Then we went straight to Jewel Cave National Monument  (about 45 min. away) and got there when the ticket booth opened. We bought the Scenic Tour for $12 each. There was no senior pass discount here. The tour lasted about an hour and a half. Then we went to the historic cabin made by the CCC. After that we drove around Custer City before going back to Dale’s for lunch. We went back to the campground and Don took a little nap. The wind was blowing really hard so Don put 2 more stakes down with the tent. The wind was blowing so hard that I watched a huge pine tree behind the bathroom snap and then fall to the ground with a loud boom! When he got up, we went to the Visitor Center and watched the movie about the park. Then we drove around and watched the bison. For dinner, we went back to Hot Springs and ate at JP’s Diner.

Things I’ve Learned:
1.     The real center of the nation is 22 miles away from the monument on private land.
2.     I don’t like pit toilets.
3.     Bison wander through the campground.
4.     I like musicals and outdoor theaters.
5.     The steak fondue and the musical were worth the money.
6.     It is cold in the mornings at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
7.     Buffalo is found Africa and Bison is found in North America.
8.     Wild horses (never domesticated) are found in Europe.
9.     Feral horses mean they are descendants of domesticated horses.
10.  2 hours is enough time to spend at Mt. Rushmore.
11.  The trail around Mt. Rushmore was worth going on.
12.  Dinosaur Park was completed by the WPA and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  
13.  The bison in Wind Cave are pure bred but the bison in Custer State Park are Beefalo.
14.  95% of the all of boxwood formations in the caves are in Wind Cave.
15.  Low pressure in the atmosphere is an indication of rain.
16.  Jewel Cave and Wind Cave have very different caves.
17.  Be careful in high winds and watch for falling trees.


dojuma said...

Wow this is so amazing.

Gladys Misigo said...

Great information for all those in the teaching profession.It'll help them plan and have strategies for success