Deadwood, Chainsaw art, Mt. Rushmore,Wind Cave tour, Custer State Park
29.09.2016 - 30.09.2016 70 °F
I was up with the sun and fixed my oatmeal. I decided to visit Deadwood, Sturgis and then Mt. Rushmore at night. I knew they had an evening program and since I would be close, it made sense to hit that on the way back to Wind Cave campground. Drove to Custer, then on to Deadwood. The leaves were just starting to turn color at this elevation and stopped to take a few photos. I just blundered my way around downtown Deadwood until I found the Visitor Center. I had to pay to park but it was only a quarter for 30 minutes. There is free parking in Deadwood, but not in the historic section. I got my maps and headed out. I wanted to visit their library to check my e-mail then started walking historic Main St. I found the saloon where Wild Bill Hickok was killed and looked at the exhibits. The saloon recreates the killing of Wild Bill several times at day but the next performance was hours away. Main St. is full of souvenir shops and all were running sales because the summer was over. I bought a Sturgis hat for my nephew and a few Deadwood coins for myself. Next up was Mt. Moriah Cemetery, the 'Boot Hill' for Deadwood. This is the final resting place for Wild Bill Hickok and many others. Deadwood has plenty of tourists because Wild Bill got killed here. The TV series 'Deadwood' helped as well. I doubt they would have had as much success if Wild Bill had been killed in nearby Lead (rhymes with heed).
I had asked at the VC about a laundry and auto parts store. I was told both were over in Lead, only 5 miles away. I did a load of laundry, my first since leaving Steve's house in Mass. Read my book while waiting and had a PB&J sand, apple, banana for lunch. I found the auto parts store, paid for a new headlight and ask who could put it in for me. The counter guy said he could and within 5 minutes he had it in. I gave him $5 and headed for Sturgis. It was on the way but a waste of time IMO. It is a special place during motorcycle week, but just a regular town the rest of the year. Drove to Keystone and got out to get some photos of the wood carvings for sale. Jarrett Dahl does chainsaw art while you watch. Worth a stop IMO. It is just outside Keystone on your way up the hill to Rushmore. I showed my parking pass at the entrance to the parking garage (good for 1 year) and walked to the amphitheater for the evening program. It is impressive, worth doing, once. I doubt I will make the effort again. A Park Ranger introduces a film explaining how Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers carved the president's faces between 1934-1941. Then she asked all veterans to come onstage to be recognized. It was impressive how many vets were in attendance that night. I got a few photos of the veterans on stage, the four presidents and then drove back to Custer, 385 to WCNP, bed about 10pm.
I got up with the sun, had my BF, and over to the Visitor Center (VC). There is no water in the campground and I used their bathroom to clean up. I signed up for the first cave tour and waited for my start time. Wind Cave was known to the Lakota Sioux who spoke of a hole that blew air. The first recorded discovery was in 1881 by Tom & Jesse Bingham. It is recorded that Tom Bingham's hat blew off his head the first time he looked into the opening, the second time his hat was sucked into the cave and never found. We walked behind the VC to the natural opening to Wind Cave. The elevator is next to the natural opening and we all go down to start the tour. It was a decent tour, but if you only have time for one cave tour, I would recommend Jewel Cave NP. It just has better cave features than WC. Back on top, I decide to spend the day in Custer State Park. I want to find out where to park and the best way to view the Roundup.
On my way to CSP, I stopped at the Wind Cave sign on highway 87. Several bison were using the corner of the sign to scratch themselves. Got some good snaps and moved on. At the West entrance, I paid the $20 fee and took the Wildlife Loop Rd to the buffalo corrals. I saw a sign for prairie dogs and took the dirt road to have a look. Got a few snaps and moved on. Plenty of deer, elk, antelope and bison were out this morning. Burros were wondering around the loop road and most cars slowed or stopped to get a photo. I took a few from my van and moved on.
They have erected large tents close to the corrals and I pull in with many other vehicles. CSP rangers are giving advice on the Roundup, parking, pancake BF, etc. I saw some buffalo were being herded this morning. I joined many others in getting some photos of what was going on. We could hear the crack of the whips the cowboys were using to herd the buffalo to the corrals. I was told that they were getting a few dozen in the corrals today. After they had that group of buffalo in the corrals, I drove to the CSP Visitor Center.
This VC is newer and nicer than most National Park VC. They have a film on CSP narrated by Kevin Costner. It is very well done and highlights the park, bison and has a section on Sylvan Lake. After the film, I stopped at the Game Lodge, but they were closing early because of the Roundup tomorrow. I wanted to check my e-mails but would have to go to Custer for that. I went to the Custer library and logged on. After e-mailing and checking the weather for Glacier & Yellowstone, I decided to visit Sylvan Lake. Took 89 North to Sylvan Lake and walked about halfway around the lake. It really is a pretty lake with huge granite boulders in and around the shoreline. It was time to head back and I took 87 South. This section is really slow going as the road twists and turn continuously all the way back to Wind Cave. You go thru the Needles Eye Tunnel. This is a very narrow, 1 car at a time tunnel. RVs and large trucks simply won't make it thru the Needles Eye. I get out to take a few snaps of the tunnel and of the Black Hills. 87 It is very slow going but very scenic as well.
It took over an hour to get back to the campground and it was starting to get dark. I had decided I was going to go back to the China Buffet in Hot Springs rather than fix eggs and go to bed at 8pm. As I was getting ready to leave, the sky lit up in a beautiful sunset. After the show was over I drove back to Hot Springs. The lady there ask where Hanling was and I told her she had moved on to Yellowstone NP. After eating, I watched Thursday Night Football until they closed at 10pm. I missed having Hanling there to socialize with. Eating alone just is not much fun. Back to the campground and time for bed.