Thursday, July 14, 2011

Black Hills of South Dakota-Part I

July 10-17.  We are at Game Lodge campground in Custer State park, in the Black Hills.  After setting up camp, we decided to go to Mt. Rushmore.  The carvings are amazing.  We took an informational walk with a park ranger, who gave us lots of information about the site, the carving, the reason for which presidents were chosen, and the family who took on this huge task of carving Mt. Rushmore..  We plan to go back at night one evening for the patriotic music and light show on the faces of the presidents. Here is an interesting note, to get down to good, solid rock, Gutzon Borglum and his 400 workers had cut or dynamite away 30 feet to make Washington's face and 75 feet of granite to carve Roosevelt's face. 
On our second day, it started out with a misty rain, so we decided to do something indoors.  We went to Wind Cave National park and took a tour of the cave. The original entrance to the cave is so small, very few people could squeeze through, about 2' by 2'. We descended 195 feet by trail and stairs and came back up by elevator.  By the time we came back up, nearly two hours later, the rain had stopped.  We headed south to Hot Springs and went to a mammoth dig.  At this site, years ago, the ground sunk and a small pond  or lake was formed.  Mammoths came to drink and if the sides gave way, they fell in.  If they could not get out, they starved to death or drowned. To date, 139 tusks have already been unearthed, therefore there are at least 70 mammoths here. This is an on going dig.
We went to Blue Belle Lodge in the park and signed up for a chuckwagon ride and dinner.  With dinner you get a cowboy hat and bandana.  We boarded a hayride out to a canyon, and was entertained for the entire hour ride each way, by cowboy singer Ron Rice.  He was great.  He got everyone involved through singing, telling jokes, and introducing ourselves.  We had steak, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, cornbread, cookies and coffee. Delicious!  On our trip to the canyon we saw white tail dear, buffalo, and pronghorn antelope, as well as a few prairie dogs. When we returned, it started to rain again.  We drove the Needles Highway, through several tunnels, on our way back to our camp.  We had a terrific, full day.

Mt. Rushmore
Me and the 4 Presidents

One of 6 tunnels
Great View

A Needle
Rushmore's Creator

Wind Caves original entry
inside the cave

Debbie 195 ' down
Antelope (1 is peeing)

Mammoth bones
Mammoth Skeleton

Deb with 1 Mammoth tooth

ready for the chuckwagon hayride
a chuckwagon

After dinner fun
Ron Rice

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