South Dakota – 16-26 June – Summer 2017

It is stinking hot, that’s all I have to say about the weather……………….mid to high 30’s celsius.

On our way to South Dakota !  We drove about 7 hours today, very long day.  A beautiful drive though, no napping on this trip !  This is one photo of the Badlands.  Beautiful scenery.

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On our way to the Badlands,we spotted the oddest thing sitting in a field.  It’s definitely not a good photo as I was:  1.  taking it from the truck;  2.  leaning over Clint; 3.  speeding down the highway!   but I just thought it was unique and huge !  Must be advertising for something?

 

 

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The Bark Park aka KOA Sioux Falls South Dakota

We stopped at KOA Sioux Falls South Dakota.   KOA was okay, you know, a normal KOA with sub-division camping.  We had site A11 but at least we had some trees, cause I think I mentioned it was stinking hot !  The prerequisite barking dogs were here.  I don’t know what I’d do if I stayed at a KOA and didn’t hear dogs barking, probably complain I guess.  The sites were small, we were backed right up to another trailer but hey !  we didn’t stay here for privacy just a one nighter to get some sleep.

After we set up, we drove down to Sioux Falls to see the Falls, really nice spot.  We have never been here before but there didn’t appear to be a lot of water, in fact, not a lot of water at all.  I think they are having a dry spell, not like Ontario where it apparently rained majority of the summer.  We enjoyed walking around this area and Trum and Digby even had their photos taken here, those guys sure get around.

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I think Trum has been drinking, he can’t even sit up.
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This is a beautifully landscaped park.
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Well look at that !  The monkey can sit up by himself !

What we have seen of South Dakota so far is wonderful,  the whole drive has been scenic.

On to the next day………..and…….so…….. just as it was yesterday, stinking hot again today.  We sat outside having coffee and watched the park empty of trailers, its only 830.  We left at 10 (reasonable hour) to head to the Badlands.

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Photographs do not do the Badlands justice.  This National Park truly has to be seen to be believed.  Such a unique landscape and it’s pretty impressive.   Sorry for all the photos but I had an extremely difficult time picking just a couple !   I loved the Badlands and I have so many different takes on the landscapes, not to mention the wildlife that I narrowed it down from a couple of hundred (or more) photos to about 50.  But I will not show THAT many…………or will I?

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So the drive begins !
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Reminds me of architecture, an old medievel castle !
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I love the formations found in this park
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Yes these are the “real” colors !

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We tried to stay at the campground right beside the Visitor Centre but it was full so we drove just outside the park and stayed at the Circle 10 campground.   We had site 29 at $30 a night included hydro and water.  This was a somewhat scruffy campground but the people were super nice!  It was windy the whole time we were there, really windy actually.   If you go on the website for Circle 10 and it says pool, well they DO have a pool but I wouldn’t count on using it.  Why?  Well because there was no water in it, it was filthy and the weeds were blocking the pathway to get to it !    But if you need a place to stay and for 30$ a night, its okay.  Let’s just say two things – we have stayed at worse places and we aren’t fussy, obviously.  I don’t think we took photos of this campground.

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We went to the Minuteman Missile Museum.  The missiles are all destroyed now, so they say……but back in the day there were 450 missile sites.  Holy guacamole, that’s a whole lot of firepower.

We drove through the Badlands a second time and we saw a group of big horned sheep.  And there must be thousands of prairie dogs here and  also mule deer and one bison.  One.   All alone.  I often wonder when I see one bison what that lone bison did or is he just a loner?  Or maybe the herd hates him?  I feel bad when I see one by him/herself.  I didn’t even take a photo of him, didn’t want to embarrass him on social media.  But here are some prairie dogs and a bird that I don’t know the name of and also some big horned sheep getting into a little tiff.  They actually have their horns locked together.

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What a great day
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I am so cute !
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Susan !! Stop photographing me !
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What is this bird?
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The boys
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Oh Oh !  Someone needs Anger Management.  Their horns are locked together.  I guess the third guy is the referee (or wife?).

We ended up driving to Wall Drug.  You couldn’t help but go to Wall Drug, there must have been hundreds of signs all along the highway saying Go To Wall Drug !!  It was quite something.  The signage I mean.  We walked around and basically it was one big store with little booths of different items being sold.  Actually what I wrote in my diary was “Just a bunch of all different stores selling shit”

Out the back of the Wall Drug they had a courtyard with a covered wagon and a jackelope and different things to take photos with, or on.  Interesting place.  Here are a few photos of Wall Drug and the main street.

 

We ended up at Badlands Saloon and Grill for dinner on the main street.  Food was okay, bartender was super friendly and we tried some microbrews and had a bite to eat.

The next day we went to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center located in the Badlands and we spent some time there and watched a movie on the Badlands.  We drove to the one horse town of Interior and saw Prairie Dog City !    We then took the scenic byway drive to Wall for a return visit.  Suckers for punishment.  We saw lots of bighorn sheep again and the usual number of prairie dogs. They must wreak havoc on farms.  Dirt holes all over the place !   It rained off and on today but still a nice drive, and a nice day.  We ended up eating at the same saloon again.

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Lady, seriously, take your camera and go, we are NOT turning around.
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So here are two deer I photographed, now look at the photo below !
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This is the same two deer and when I photographed this one, can you see that one deer is almost directly behind the other deer?  So weird !

Did some more driving around and saw more animals and did a couple of walks.  You can climb up some of the hills which is pretty cool.

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We did a walk by the Visitor Centre and saw a pretty prickly pear cactus flower, or whatever it’s called.  We hadn’t seen any of them until this one and then after we saw this one, they were all over the place.  I wonder if the rain yesterday brought them out?

 

And a few final photographs I took of the Badlands, I really loved the landscapes here.  I literally have hundreds and hundreds of photographs I took of this area but I don’t want to bore people !

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Look at me way up here !

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I just love these little guys
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Excuse Me?
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Look at how gentle they are with each other, such affection.  I could photograph these guys all day, actually I think I did ! OR maybe one is trying to choke the other?
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I cannot get over the color of these rocks and yes this was the color, something to do with minerals.  Clint likes to climb on all the hills.
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Yes we climbed this, a little dicey coming back down !
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I took a couple of shots like this and I really like it.
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Don’t fall
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A herd of goats
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Nature is incredible
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It will be sad to leave this place

It really cools down in the evening here and still super windy.  We have been at the Circle 10 RV Park three nights, now is time to leave.  We used their showers and well, they were in much the same shape as the pool.  I had warm water and then I didn’t so then I moved to another shower to have warm water but the door didn’t lock, well that’s a lie.  There was no lock….. but whatever…… just shower as quick as possible and get out !  Clint said the men’s washroom was filthy and no toilet paper.  Just kinda creepy really.  You know one of those places you have a shower but still don’t feel clean?  BUT THE PEOPLE THERE ARE SUPER NICE !   lol

Anyways we are on our way to Rapid City !

You may want to walk away and pour yourself a glass of wine.  This blog for South Dakota is very long !

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On the way to Rapid City we stopped at the South Dakota Air and Space museum at Ellsworth AFB.  Pretty neat –  displays showcasing all different aspects of aviation from pioneers to aviation technology.  They also had missile silo information and lots of aircraft outside on the grounds.  We watched some jets take off; they were super loud !  quite something to see.

When we got to Rapid City, we decided to stay at Rushmore Shadows RV Park, site B314.  We asked for shade and quiet and we were put in the back of the park in a gravel parking lot with no trees, no grass, not even weeds.  We were being punished, I don’t know what for, but we were.  We stayed four nights and at sixty something dollars US a night wasn’t cheap !  The rest of the  park was nice, but not where we were camped. It was a Good Sam park and apparently Bad Sam park was where we were put lol.  And we didn’t take a picture because honestly we didn’t want to remember it ! lol

We drove into Rapid City and went to the Firehouse Brewing Company.

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What a great place !  An old fire hall made into a brew house and restaurant.  The front is wide open to the street but we sat in the back.  The food was great and we enjoyed their beer.  The staff is super friendly and really seem to enjoy working there as much as we enjoyed drinking there.    Too much food though, we ended up bringing a bunch home, which is a good thing ! Two meals for the price of one.

We decided to drive through Bear Country USA   the next morning early.  We got there just as they opened.  It’s a drive though animal preserve so we drove through and we saw bears, elks, reindeer, long horn sheep, Arctic wolves and bison and more.  It took about 45 minutes to drive through and see everybody.  We parked and then walked through the other area of the Park.   They had 7 baby bears in a huge enclosure all playing and wrestling, super cute.  There were other enclosures for other animals; skunks, beaver, porcupines, bobcat, fox and more.  They also have a gift shop and food restaurant on their property.  Now I am putting photos on my Blog that normally I would not use.  Lighting is the main reason.  But I did want to share our holiday photos and the light is not always good or you are taking photos out of a truck window or some other random excuses I could come up with given time ! lol  But at the end of the day, this is a Blog of where we travel and I would like to think I also have some good ones !

When we left there we went to the Reptile Museum, it is a big place !  When we drove to it, it didn’t look that big from the outside, we were pleasantly surprised.  We were there about 3 hours going through the museum and the displays were really well done.  I would recommend this place if you are into that kind of thing.  We are !  So yes, they are doing exactly what they look like they are doing.

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We went to Fort Hayes to get tickets to the dinner theatre for that night.   Fort Hayes is a whole bunch of buildings and you can walk around this “mini town” and go into the different buildings.  Fort Hayes Old West Town Square is the actual name.   After we got our tickets, we walked through the Dancing with Wolves display which was filmed in this area.  A lot of other movies were also filmed in this area and they had information on those as well.  We walked around and into the different buildings which are all old-looking; great place to spend some time.

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And then Guess What?  We went to a microbrewery !      Hays Camp Brewery.     Trum was first one in the door!   I really liked their IPA and APA.  To be honest I love all IPAs but THEIR IPAs were really good.  We didn’t care for the ambience of the brewery though, it was new and very little character.  The young girl working there was really nice and friendly.  We were there quite a while chatting with her.

 

On to the Lost Cabin Brewery !  Clint really enjoyed the beer here, especially the coffee stout.  I liked the ambience, very South Dakota-ish looking and their Bruce Bannon APA was pretty tasty.

 

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Well had to head home and get ready for the Fort Hayes dinner theatre.  We had to be there for 630.  We sat near the front and everyone was sitting at big long picnic tables.  Clint and I sat across from each other.  We were lucky to get tickets, they were almost sold out.  At this dinner, they run it as though you are on a cattle drive and go to a chuckwagon for your food !  You each get a tin plate and have to get in a line and go through and get your own food.  This is a fun idea and it was fun chatting with other people in the lineup.   Very cute idea and the food was wonderful !  Just what you’d expect in South Dakota !  Homemade biscuits, beans, baked potato, chicken or beef and applesauce spice cake.  The food was great and the show even better.  They had a great band –  drums, piano, fiddle and 3 guitars who played country, classical, old rock, Motown………really enjoyed it and highly recommend this dinner theatre.  One guy dressed up in different outfits to sing different types of songs and one of his outfits was of Elvis.  He got right into the crowd singing, really good, he even got up on the tables !  We had to take our own dishes back after the dinner, line up and take them through to the kitchen ! A man at our table and I picked up everyone elses dishes at our table, and took them back.   It was an awesome dinner theatre and only $29 per person!   Highly recommend this event.

The next day we got up early and drove to Custer State Park to do the Wildlife Loop.

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Donkeys and Bison and Prairie Dogs Oh My !

We decided to pay $20 for a 7 day pass to all South Dakota State Parks.  It was cheaper than paying per day and we know we will be in a few South Dakota State parks and this park we entered more than one day.  This is a beautiful park and I loved it.  We saw prong horned deer, regular deer and tons of buffalo !

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See!  It IS a wildlife Loop !

 

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Stopped at a little Ranger visitor centre and couldn’t believe how many buffalo live here.  They just kept walking past us.

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These little guys, or girls, are so cute.

When you are in this parking lot they have a Texas Gate in the driveway and fencing all around so you can stand and watch them as they walk really close by you but there is no danger.  ( A “Texas Gate” is a grill which prevents animals from entry but cars can pass.  It’s a system of rollers that animals won’t walk on)  So you are really close to the buffalo but not in any danger.

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They look like they are watching a movie.

We did another drive which I believe was called Oak Run drive.  More prairie dogs and more buffalo !  This road looped back to the Visitor Centre and we continued on.  We saw donkeys on the loose !  People were walking right up to them, so cute and friendly, donkeys not the people.

There was a pure white donkey with a little baby but they stayed in the bushes and wouldn’t come out.  The mom came out once for a bit but then back to her baby.  Scenery is spectacular in this park.

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We drove up Mount Coolidge to the lookout, holy cow! the road was steep and we were at 6048 feet.  Lots of hair pin curves, kinda scary yet fun !

 

 

We drove to the Crazy Horse Monument.  Spectacular.  This is a drawing of what it looks like and the dimensions etc.  Such a wonderful memorial.

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This is a statue of the finished product.  When they are finished it will look quite incredible.  They have only done the head so far.

So we paid $22 each to get in and  $4 each to take a bus to the base of the monument.  They are not government-funded at all and so they need the money to complete this magnificent monument.  Pretty reasonable entrance fee I’d say !  They did a great job on the buildings and displays.  I was impressed and we learned a lot.  When we drove the bus to the base of the monument, I saw a little animal that looked like a wookie from Star Wars.  The driver said it was a marmot.  Marmot sounds like a name from a Star Wars movie.  But they are kinda like a groundhog I guess?

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A view from the highway

We drove to the town of Custer and walked around, not much there really.  I don’t even have photos, aren’t you lucky?

We continued to Hill City and walked around the town.  Ended up at the Mangy Moose Saloon for a beer.  They had a Knucklehead IPA, so good!  We sat outside and watched the town.  Cute place.  Stopped at a chocolate shop, whose name I forgot to write down.  It was some of the best chocolate I have ever had.

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What a great bar !
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That chocolate shop is somewhere across the street and to the right !

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Off to Miners Brewery !  This was a cute spot.  We walked in and the guy working the bar had been in the Lost Cabin Brewery when we were there the day before and he recognized us.  Had a great visit with him and tasted some great beer.

 

We stopped at the Naked Winery and Brewery on the way home and had a taster tray there.  I really liked the Hop on Top IPA.  Trum came in and had a little look-see.  He likes getting out of the truck once in a while !

The next day we drove the Needles Highway,  wowza.  What a road !  Single lane tunnels cut into the rock, steep drop-offs, narrow road, BEAUTIFUL !

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Iron Tunnel
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Can you believe tour buses drive through here?  So amazing
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Needles Eye tunnel
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This is not the best pic but I am taking it from the truck as we drive through.  We put our mirrors in, probably didn’t have to but the walls were so close.

We left early at 730 to do this drive so we could enjoy it without too many other vehicles on it !  We saw 3 little goats standing on the road right on a curve, but we weren’t able to stop.  What a drive, this is a must-do.

On to Mount Rushmore !

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Look how little Trum looks !

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The Front Entrance

They get about 20,000 visitors a day……..A DAY.  I can’t even imagine that.  We walked the Presidential Trail and we went through the museum and watched a movie. It is truly awe-inspiring to see this monument and also the Crazy Horse monument.  Just spectacular.  This is a really great place to spend some time.  Lots to do here and we only paid $10 for parking and that was it.  The Concession people have a contract to run this tourist attraction and they even pay the Rangers that are on site; so they make their money off the restaurant and gift shop.

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I love photographing flowers
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Interesting rock formations
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If you look close, you can see a mountain climbing guy on the top !  How brave !

Drove the  Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway.     so many tunnels and curves !  We went up really high on very steep roads.  This is a 70 mile byway and there are spiralling bridges, hairpin curves, several tunnels and such views !  You will travel through parts of Custer State park, a Wildlife Preserve, Black Elk Wilderness Area and be near to Mount Rushmore.

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We headed back to our campground and stopped at a Christmas store and winery just outside the campground.  We tried some wines but did not buy anything at the Christmas Store.

Left the next day, 23 June,  to head for Deadwood and we stopped at the  Fish “n” Fry Campground    to get a site.  We paid $30 for hydro and water, site 10.  We backed up to a little stream which was running through the campground behind us.  Cute place, very small campground.

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We drove into Deadwood and went to the Days of 76 museum.   Interesting museum and quite big, lots to see.

I think it was on the way into Deadwood, but we have seen them at other places, they have a Runaway Truck Ramp.  So this is a picture of it.  Kind of scary !  Imagine driving down the highway and then you have to aim your truck up this sandy, dirt hill.

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Runaway Truck Ramp
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Saloon No 10

Walked downtown Deadwood and we watched Wild Bill Hickock get shot at Saloon 10 !  We saw Calamity Jane telling stories on a street corner and watched 2 gunfights !  There were actors dressed according to their roles and they had a listing of different locations to be at and what was going to happen at these locations.  It was fun sitting on the curb watching the gunfights and listening to Calamity Jane tell her stories.  The actors were all realistic and we quite enjoyed it.

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We ate dinner at the Stockade.    Great place, fun atmosphere and opens out onto the street.  Basic bar food but it was good and they had cute little stools at the front you could sit on for a photo-op.  Lots of western ambience !

After dinner, we drove to the cemetery and saw the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane.

We also played miniature golf at one of the best miniature golf courses we have ever played, located at a hotel on the way into Deadwood.  I neglected to write down the names of the hotel and the golf course !  I’m pretty sure they only have one mini-putt.

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Deadwood’s Saloon No. 10
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Deadwoods Mainstreet
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Inside Saloon No. 10

Then we drove to the town of Lead and checked out the Goldmine Tour but the place was closed for the day.

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The next day we drove the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway  from Deadwood to Lead stopping at  Roughlock Falls and Bridal Veil falls.   This is a 22 mile drive and you will want to stop quite a bit to take photos and enjoy the scenery.

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We stopped at Crow Peak Brewery in the town of Spearfish.   The bartender was a sweetheart and we chatted with her for a long time while trying different brews.  I liked their beers and Clint really liked the stout.  Probably one of our favourite breweries we have ever went to.  We were there a long time visiting.

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We then drove to Sturgis.  The town of Sturgis is known for its annual motorcycle rally with over 500,000 bikes attending, plus their riders.  haha   We went into the Knuckle Saloon and had pizza and beer.   Really large bar but lots of character and the food was good.  We played a few games of pool, pretty sure I lost.  Then we went for a walk around downtown to walk off the pizza !  They had a Camaro rally that weekend and the streets were lined with Camaros.  I think it would also be quite  something to see all the motorcycles here all at once !

Fish ‘n” Fry campground serves breakfast so the following day we decided to eat at our campground before we went out.  It was okay, usual bacon/eggs/toast.  reasonably priced.  The people are really friendly and this campground is conveniently located to Deadwood.  We ended up driving back through the town of Lead to Spearfish Falls and walked the trail to see the falls.

When we went back to Lead we stopped at the Sanford Lab Homestake and walked all through the museum and saw the “big dig”.  This is such an interesting place.  Until it closed in 2002, it was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America.  You can stand out on the deck and look into this big hole in the ground.   If you want, you can buy golf balls and shoot them off the deck !  Hole in one every time !    You can take a trolley tour from this building, which we did,  which includes a trip through Historic Lead, viewing mining operations and various other items of interest.   Our tour guide was very well spoken and she was quite knowledgeable.   Back at the building in the lab they are now searching for dark matter;  trying to determine whether neutrinos are their own antiparticles; and  studying what happens in stars when they die.  Very interesting place, most of it way over my head lol but I guess because of the stone and location its a very viable area to do this research.

We decided to go back to Deadwood, parked out truck and walked around downtown again.

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We went back to No 10 saloon for a beer and then noticed a lot of activity at the table across from us.  Turns out they were filming an episode of Food Paradise in the Saloon so we decided to stay and get something to eat while we watched the filming.  One of the crew came over and had us sign releases as we may or may not be shown on the show.  This is a food show on a travel network that I have never heard of !  So we were served our food and the travel show people got their food and I’m pretty sure that their food came from somewhere else. Our food was really bad !  No silverware, no napkins, no sauces and the food was tasteless.  But in the restaurant’s defence we did only order so we could stay there and see what was going on; however, the TV people were seemingly enjoying their food !   We also met a couple from Toronto at this bar, finally some Canadians !  We have not  run into any Canadian people nor have we seen any cars with Canadian license plates on this trip at all.  Well actually just as we entered South Dakota, we did see two motor homes at a gas station with Quebec license plates, but that is it !

There are lots of pronghorn deer in this area, saw a bunch on the way home and when we got back to our campsite we had a mom duck and babies swimming in the little creek behind our trailer.  I love wildlife and I still am not sure which of my photos became corrupted, still need to figure that out.

 

 

 

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