Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.
Ashley re-organizes the kitchen. The spices had been stored underneath the sink for easy access but after last night’s flood she rethought that arrangement.
After breakfast we hop on the motorcycle and head down toward Wind Cave, on through Custer State Park. Our donated pass is only for cars (one, specifically – they’re nontransferrable) so we buy an entrance pass.
We stop at Rankin Ridge and hike up to the fire watch tower. I love these things! They always manage to capture my attention. Unfortuntely, the hatch at the top is locked so we can’t get all the way up to the platform. According to the sign we can see the Bad Lands in the distance, though we can’t quite distinguish them, even using the binoculars.
On down to wind Cave National Park. We find a parking spot and go buy tickets. 1:40 until our tour leaves, so we find a shady spot and eat lunch, relax in the grass, then go check out the displays and gift shop. Ashley reads through some National Park guide-books, researching options for the next leg of our journey.
Everyone meets at the elevator and our tour begins. It is the 6th longest cave in the world, and home to 95% of the boxwork formations in the world (and they aren’t growing structures). Gosh, that place is a 3-dimensional maze – tunnels go every which way! I can’t imagine exploring it on my own, much less by candle light!
The stone and formations are different than anything we have ever seen before, very cool to experience. Very glad we had a guide as I was soon lost. The group was too large and took too many pictures, however, so we had to rush through a good bit of the passages.
Having been in caves before, and even exploring a few all on our own, we both agree that the next time we go it will be on a wild/spelunking tour. Of course, those are booked well in advance, so we will have to start looking ahead at any future caves in the National Parks.
We leave the cave and head back north through Custer State Park. This time we take the Wildlife Loop. Our goal is the Needles Highway but this will take us on a different route and give us a chance to see some new wildlife. While the landsacpe was pretty, it was not as dramatic nor majestic as others we have recently seen and we both found ourselves imptiently waiting to see the Cathedral Spires.
Along the way we saw more bison, prairie dogs, white tail deer, pronghorn antelope, and even some wild donkeys. There was a bit of a trafic jam as the herd crossed the road to be petted and (I’m sure) fed.
Some ass was blocking the road
The spires were certainly amazing! There seemed to be a few hiking trails. If only we had seen those on any of the maps we looked at, we could have planned for more exploration on foot! Hot and hungry, though, we were ready to be home so we didn’t explore as much as we would have otherwise liked.
Back home we changed out of riding gear and walked the few blocks back to Maria’s Mexican food truck. Everything we’d read about it was positive, so we were excited to explore. Ashley got tamales and I tried the chicken corn tortilla tacos. We split chips and salsa. Everything was delicious! Fresh ingredients and clearly made from scratch. Simple food, but excellently seasoned – you could taste all of the different components.
After finishing we walked up Main Street and stopped in a local bakery/sweets shop. Ashley had a cookie while I enjoyed an ice cream cone. She is a cookie monster! 😉 We have definitely been allowing ourselves to have a few more “treats” since we’ve hit the road, but that is part of experiencing the local towns, and we’re careful not to overdo it.
Back in the RV we poured over maps, comparing options on where to head next. It’s just getting late enough in the season that weather is going to be a factor, hot though it currently is here in South Dakota. We want to backpack in Glacier, but we haven’t researched it enough and fear that we’d be cutting either it or Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons short. We discuss every variation that we can think of before heading in to relax to a movie before bed.