South Dakota

THE Wind Cave

This is Nick the guest blogger with a quick one. Last week while in South Dakota I took the kids to Wind Cave National Park. Mind you, I like my nature natural and the word ‘tour’ makes my eyes glaze over whilst memories of terrible boredom on school trips rise unbidden to my mind. But, if you have the chance to look around one of the largest caves in the world (maybe even the largest if the theoretical connection to Jewel Cave is found) you take it how you can get it. We really wanted to try the candlelight tour, but when we got to the park at 4 (I had to work until 3) only the tamer tours were available, so off we went with the precocious younglings and retirees.

In a word, Wind Cave is impressive. It’s geologically boring, but so big that it can’t fail to make an impression. 140 or so miles have been discovered and mapped and about 2 miles are added every year. The Park Service estimates that between 5 and 50 percent of the cave is known based on measurements of the air flow exiting the cave mouth via barometric pressure. The map shows a jumbled mess of criss-crossed passages made all the more confusing by virtue of being stacked on top of each other under a single square mile of surface. The original explorer, Alvin McDonald, mapped a mere 10 miles of cave but did it with only candles and string.

I’m not including a lot of pictures here because it’s impossible to gauge the scale and complexity. Here are a few anyways.

IMAG0469 IMAG0464 IMAG0468











Whether you’re a nature snob like me or a seasoned tourist, I highly recommend having a look at Wind Cave. The sheer vastness and grandeur of the cave is worth it and the rangers do a great job of making it interesting and informative.

Categories: National Parks, South Dakota | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A Whirlwind in South Dakota

Today was a whirlwind of a day in South Dakota!  We definitely packed it full and had a wonderful time. We’d had a great several days in Hermosa, SD. Wednesday we visited Mt. Rushmore. Then on Thursday, Nick and the kids went to Wind Cave and watched a couple of movies at the local drive-in. Friday we were all tired and decided to rest up for the weekend. Nick and I did, however, go into (the very small) town to pick up some groceries. We discovered the smallest, strangest grocery store we’d ever shopped in! One of the best parts of this trip has been exploring small towns. I love their little independent restaurants and shops.

We made a quick stop at Wall Drug… fun, as always!

































On our way to Badlands National Park we saw signs for Prairie Homestead. It looked interesting, so we stopped. We were able to tour the original 1909 homestead of sodbusters,  Mr. and Mrs. Ed Brown. It was fascinating! As you can see, they offered a selection of costumes to wear while touring. We, of course, took advantage of the opportunity! Haha!


































































Next, Badlands National Park.  It is definitely something to see!






















We then went to the Auto Museum in Murdo.  It was full of old cars, tractors, motorcycles, bikes, games, toys, etc. They also had a couple of old RVs which we found especially interesting! We all really enjoyed our visit. It is definitely worth stopping by if you are ever in the area.







































































We ended our day in Presho, SD. We stopped here for lunch back in May and we decided that it was the driest, dustiest place any of us had ever seen. What a change a couple of months makes! It is so lush and green now that we didn’t recognize it.  And once again, Hutch’s Cafe was a hit.

Tomorrow we head for Mitchell, SD and the Corn Palace!

Categories: National Parks, South Dakota | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills


The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. –Gutzon Borglum









Yesterday we visited Black Hills National Forest and Mt. Rushmore. The drive through the Black Hills was lovely. It was a refreshing change to be surrounded by so many trees.  I have, of course, seen pictures of Mt. Rushmore, but it was quite a thing to see in person. I can’t begin to imagine the amount of skill and ingenuity it took to create such a sculpture! It is really quite amazing!












Categories: National Forests, National Monuments, South Dakota | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Day 4… or Plan B

The plan was to leave Virginia on Saturday and arrive at Glacier National Park in Montana on Tuesday… it’s Tuesday and we are in Wyoming.  So, we are on to plan B.  Apparently, we were overly optimistic and failed to factor in time for rv repairs, sickness, and numerous stops for gas (7 miles per gallon *ahem*). The new “plan” is to arrive at our destination by Friday.

With the exception of this first week, we have no plans, just vague ideas about where we’d like to go. One of the things we love about taking a year-long rv trip is that we don’t have to live by schedules or itineraries. The plan is not to have a plan. In a word: FREEDOM. And, obviously, having a plan this week didn’t mean much in the long run. I guess that’s what makes it an adventure.

We spent most of the day driving through South Dakota. It has been quite a few years since I have been in this part of the country. I had almost forgotten the beauty of wide open spaces. In a crowded and busy world, it is an amzingly peaceful feeling to look out and see nothing but land and sky for miles on end.

With four of us not feeling well and the hope of seeing Montana soon, we skipped visiting the Corn Palace this morning. We did, however, stop to see the Missouri River from a scenic overlook. We also stopped at Wall Drug (Oh, how I love a tourist trap!). We’ll be back later this summer to properly explore South Dakota.

We are overnighting in Wyoming and hope to see Montana tomorrow!




Categories: South Dakota, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Boondocking and Day Three

I’m sick and feeling very miserable, so this update will be brief. I am trying to take it in stride, but it was a rough day of traveling… especially over very bumpy roads.

Last night we “boondocked” for the first time. It wasn’t too bad. We parked at a rest area just outside Kansas City, MO. It all went well,  other than someone trying to steal our sewer hose… I really don’t know what to say about that except, “Eww!”


Today we drove from just outside Kansas City to Mitchell,  SD. We had to make a long stop in Iowa for some repairs, but my handy husband got us back on the road.

Tonight we are staying at Mitchell KOA. Once again, we’ve had a great rv park experience. Friendly staff, clean facilities,  pleasant scenery (particularly if you like cows).


Categories: boondocking, rv parks, rv repairs, South Dakota | Tags: | Leave a comment

Blog at