Most people know the Black Hills as the home of Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial giant sculptures. There is much more to the Black Hills than these two hugely popular tourist attractions. We parked Turtle for a week beside Mike Reynolds and Pam Traina’s (FHTV #190) house in Hill City, in the heart of the Black Hills. We should have known that visiting with Pam and Mike (Mike in Tucson, Mick in Hill City) would not consist of porch sitting and lazy walks. We bicycled a total of 169 miles with something over 12,000 feet of vertical climbing. After having not ridden for nearly two weeks, that was the biggest jump of weekly mileage, outside of touring, that we can remember. To top it off, the weather was at near record levels of heat and the humidity, though not high by Midwest standards, was brutal by Arizona/Utah standards. We survived though, and think we probably gained weight eating Pam’s great pasta meals. We also hiked to the top of Harney Peak, with a thousand or so other hikers; apparently it is the most popular hike in the Black Hills, with good reason.
Bison in Custer State Park
We also visited with Nick and Carolyn Clifford, new winter residents (owners) in Far Horizons Tucson Village. We also met Mary, raconteur and next door neighbor, and friends Fritz and Loretta, who gave us a ride, with bikes, about 35 miles up the Mickelson (rail) Trail for a one-way ride back to Hill City.
Approaching bison in Custer State Park; trying to decide how to hide behind those cars.
We rode many miles in Custer State Park, gem of the Black Hills, home to herds of bison, pronghorns, flowers, blue skies and puffy clouds. Those puffy clouds do tend to turn to thunderstorms, and one day pelted Turtle with golf-ball-sized hail; we were convinced during the cacophony of hail and thunder, that we were about to lose our second motorhome to hail. We were lucky: the hail was not baseball sized, and our roof is now fiberglass and stood the test well; we could find no dents. The only casualty was a huge hematoma on Claire’s hand as she tried to stuff a blanket through the skylight to protect it, while I stood by and reminded her that hail was probably the main reason we have insurance. I’ll never say that again, and she won’t stick her hand out in large hail again.
Crazy Horse’s eye
Crazy Horse from back side
Crazy Horse from his index finger
We left Mike and Pam after a week and went back to work, getting an up close tour of the Crazy Horse Memorial by the public relations staff (thanks Ace Crawford) for a proposed story on Native American Tourism. We spent one night in Rapid (short locally for Rapid City) and a short visit with Tass and Bruce, fellow cycle touring adventurers we met in Turkey. They had some great ideas for South America from their trip there several years ago.
Since we were passing through Sioux Falls, we decided to pop in on Miller and Marilyn Glanzer (FHTV 421). They showed us the falls and the interesting downtown sculptures and treated us to sodas at a great soda fountain. Thanks! That rich ice cream soda was a wonderful lunch and will help us put back on the weight we lost in the Black Hills! (Yes, Pam and Mike, we both lost weight, despite Pam’s pasta).
The best soda in years in downtown Sioux Falls.
We’ll be in Iowa soon, visiting Winnebago for a few minor things on Turtle. For the RVers among you, we are getting 18-19mpg, even in the mountains. Good boy Turtle!
Next up: The Greatlands National Park of South Dakota
Bob and Claire