We had friends who live in their RV full time. They just happened to be staying in Spearfish, SD for a couple of months volunteering at the D. C. Booth Fish Hatchery
while were in Deadwood. On a visit we took Spearfish Canyon to Spearfish and stopped along the way at a water fall.
I would post some pictures of the fish at the hatchery but my talents at taking pictures of large fish under the surface of the water are lacking. After we left the hatchery we stopped at the visitors center in Lead, SD and took the Sanford Lab Homestake Mine Tour
. The first stop on the tour is directly behind the visitors center where you can see an open pit mine.
Look closely at the above pictures. You can see small black circles at different depths in the terraces peppered all over. Those black spots are the old horizontal mine shafts that the miners used to follow the gold bearing quartz leads. By the way, Lead, SD is pronounced like LEED not LED like the mineral. It refers to the quartz leads that the miners followed. Anyway, those mine shafts at one time were used by school children to go under the ridge on there way to and from school everyday. Of course that was before the open pit was created.
We took a bus to the hoist room of the mine where the hoists that raise and lower the elevators are. The hoists currently are used to get personnel and equipment to the Sanford Lab located a mile underground. The Sanford lab is engaged in neutrino research. The original gold mine goes to around 8000 ft deep but the levels below the lab have been abandoned and left to flood. The hoist, you can see the brake mechanism quite clearly.
The cable drum, the cable is over 5000 feet long and is radiographed on a regular basis for defects. It cost over a million dollars to replace the cable the last time is was accomplished.
A week after we took the RV to have the brakes looked at our new air dryer and governor assembly came in and we repeated the process to take the Winnebago to get the part replaced. This time Terrie and I took the trike to Mt Rushmore
It was cloudy that morning and just as we got to Mt. Rushmore it began to rain, not real hard but enough you didn't want to stand around in it. So in order to stay out of the elements we spent a lot of time (and money) in the gift shop. The rain did stop eventually but the day remained cloudy. From Rushmore we headed back toward Keystone, SD and picked up the Iron Mountain Road
on our way to Custer State Park
One of the interesting features on Iron Mountain Rd is the various views of Mt Rushmore at scenic pull offs.
Including through all of the tunnels on the road. Thanks Warren for pointing that out.
From Iron Mountain Road we took the Wildlife Loop
in Custer State Park. When Warren led through the Wildlife loop a few days earlier during the rally only one bull buffalo and one lonely antelope was spotted. After talking to the locals it turns out that it takes about two weeks for the wildlife to return to their normal haunts close to the roads after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
. I don't know what would push the wildlife away from the road during the rally unless its the bright reflections from all the shiny paint and chrome on the motorcycles, maybe it hurts their eyes.
As you can see our experience was quite different from the one during the NGW rally.
We had originally planned to head to Glacier National Park
after the NGW rally but between the brake issue with the RV and the fact that half of Glacier was closed due to wild fires we just extended our stay at Wild Bills. However, he was booked up for the last two days that we wanted to stay in the area so we had to move the motorhome to a new location. We found a new (and better) campground in Rapid City. From Rapid City we took the bikes back across the Iron Mountain Road (tough job but someone has to do it) across Custer State Park to 87 south on our way to Wind Cave National Park
. It turned out that 87 south of Custer State Park was a very beautiful ride. We both thoroughly enjoyed it even more than the cave itself.
We came across these guys on the way to Wind Cave.
Wind Cave gets its name from the original natural access to the cave. The cave is vast and its only opening was a garbage can lid sized hole. When the atmospheric pressure is high the cave equalizes and when a lower pressure air mass comes along then the cave breaths out. The resulting wind through the original opening is quite strong. Strong enough to push a lightly built person standing right in front of the opening. We took the free tour. I have to say I've seen prettier caves but it was worth the experience nonetheless.
Well the trip to Wind Cave marked the last of our Black Hills adventures. It turns out I've been in every one of the contiguous lower forty eight states save one, North Dakota. So before we started out on this trip we worked in a leg to include North Dakota to correct this deficiency.
We planned to stop in at the town of Medora, ND located at the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park
. It turns out Medora is a happening place. Besides being the gateway town to the NP they provide some excellent western entertainment opportunities, including but not limited to a TR reenactor that gives a spirited performance in the Town Hall Theater at the Teddy Roosevelt Salute To Medora
as well as a western steak dinner with all the trimmings at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue
that precedes the biggest attraction The Medora Musical
The entirety of the trip north to Medora was more of the Dakota Plains.
We hit I-94 east of Medora so our first contact with Teddy Roosevelt NP was at a regular interstate rest stop that also had a TRNP visitors center. The view at the back of the rest stop may make this the most scenic rest stop of the entire interstate system.
TRNP is a badlands but different than its SD counterpart. The badlands stretch through ND along the Little Missouri River as it flows north to its junction with the Missouri River. TRNP consists of two sections carved from these badlands. A northern section and southern section separated by seventy miles. Medora guards the southern section. Our original plan was to ride the southern scenic loop after which we would attend the TR reenactment. The second day we were to ride to the northern section tour the scenic loop and then ride back to Medora in time for the Pitchfork Fondue and the Medora Musical. However, after checking in with the Medora Weather Station