Post 1518: Black Hills adventure, part 2…


As iconic to South Dakota as Mount Rushmore are these bison in Custer State Park. The rains that day cleaned them up nicely. Ordinarily, they are dusty, even muddy from wallowing in, erm, “buffalo wallows“. They clean up nicely!

We saw several individuals and small herds of bison throughout the park, with this one being the largest (and fortunately) closest to the road. There are signs reminding visitors not to get out of the car or get closer to the bison to photograph them as they are wild animals and dangerous.

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Spot the wild turkeys in this photo if you can.

six wild turkeys

Still difficult to see, there are two hens in the first two “circles”, starting on the left; possibly two hens, definitely one in the “circle” right of the tree; and a big tom in the far right “circle”! Trust me! We had the benefit of seeing movement to help us spot these rascals. 


Count again, and you see even more turkeys. There are at least ten in this photo.


White-tailed deer are another beautiful creature found in the park! 


Adventurers need to eat, so we stopped at a bar and grill somewhere – Keystone maybe – and had a delicious club sandwich with root beer. Marianne wanted a nice hot coffee, but this was a bar afterall! The air conditioning was set at a very cold level and that coffee would have been very welcome.

I showed Marianne the photo I took of her while we waited for the sandwiches, which came with excellent french fries that we didn’t expect. She thought she looked terrible in her photo, so I took a terrible photo of myself to even things up. Ha! 

It was getting late, so we set course for Custer to see the last major sight of the day, a stone sculpture that as planned will stand as tall as a forty storey/story building…


…the Crazy Horse Memorial, as seen from the viewing room at the back of the visitor center. We didn’t have time to take the bus up to the top of the mountain, but that will be on my bucket list for future day trips!


Here’s a better view. It has reached this stage since initiation of carving in 1948, and completion surely will never be in our lifetimes. The face of this famous Lakota leader and some detail on his arm and pointing finger are completed, with the head of his horse scheduled for the next work. You can see a painted horse head slightly obscured by a pine framed by the two people on the right. 

Here’s a further enlarged view of the sculpture. For scale, notice the construction equipment on the flat surface (the arm). It is staggering. You can see the horse head more clearly, too.

lakota leader

Then we drove to Hot Springs, where I made wrong turn, tried to turn around, and smashed my car into a decorative boulder on the edge of a parking lot. After many trying minutes (the accident happened after everything was closed down), we managed to arrange to have my VW Golf Sportwagen towed to Rapid City to the VW dealer I bought it from, and to take a $200 taxi ride back to Alliance. (I told you this day was an adventure!)

But that’s another story, one that’s still unfolding. I wiped out the radiator and the front spoiler. So much for taking Marianne to Panhandle historic and paleontological sights! Gee! We didn’t even get up to Carhenge, which is a short drive from where I live.


Post 1517: Black Hills adventure, part 1…

My Dutch friend Marianne and I first visited the Mammoth dig site in Hot Springs. There were restrictions on photography during the tour, then I forgot to take any photos after when the restrictions were off. Good grief! I’d be fired from my job if I were a reporter!

It was raining when we arrived thirty minutes before opening time, but the woman who turned out to be our excellent tour guide opened the door and let us in, where we could wait on a bench in the lobby till the official opening.

After the video, tour, and a little time to select agates and other small souvenirs, we drove to Custer State Park (photos above) where smoke from park fires earlier was cleansed from the air by the mist and rains of that morning. Everything was glistening, magical! 

A prairie dog town (photo with Marianne, above) provided a glimpse of the wildlife to come. The leaves on deciduous trees had begun to turn, turning the landscape into a festive one.

Apparently, these burros are seasonal at Custer State Park if I understood comments from a South Dakotan responding to our description of an “encounter” with this band of beggars! 


After a long drive through the Black Hills glistening in rain and light fog, we arrived at Mount Rushmore. Believe it or not, there is a carved mountain in this photo! It was pointless to pay the admissions fee to view more of this, so we turned south to see one last major sight and any wildlife we could view along the way.

[to be continued]