On to South Dakota

Once again, I find time slipping away as we try to operate without consistent high-speed internet. The blog — which is content-heavy and needs a fair amount of bandwidth — is suffering. But what can a couple boondocking and living on a shoestring budget do? With that said,  I apologize for the lengthy post…just trying to get caught up.

Ultimately, our summer destination was Rapid City, SD. On our way east from northern Idaho, we had the privilege of meeting one of Jim’s online friends in Chelan, Washington. The property is beautiful and they were fabulous hosts, inviting us in for a meal or two, a glass of wine (or two) and some very enjoyable, enriching conversation. They sent us on our way with garlic, dried shallots, dried morels and invitation to return.  We were very excited to make use of the generous gifts in one of our favorite pasta dishes. The bounty from our friends’ garden made the dish even more delish than usual.

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Lake Chelan is beautiful and we spent a couple of days on the water. This is definitely a place we would love to return to, both to visit friends and to explore more of the crystal clear waters of the lake and its lovely surroundings.

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Reluctantly, we left Chelan and continued on our way toward South Dakota. The drive was much more scenic than we had anticipated.

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We finally made it to South Dakota. About 65 miles northwest of Rapid City, we found free dispersed camping at Belle Fourche Reservoir. The setting is picturesque and we found ourselves settling in there for several days, biding our time until the Sturgis motorcycle rally was over and the masses exited the area. One evening a storm blew through and the sky turned crimson and became other-wordly. The double rainbow was so massive, it took three photos to capture the entire expanse.

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Once the rally was over and things were mostly back to normal in and around Rapid City, we found our free campsite at Railroad Butte in a National Grasslands area about 20 miles east of the city. The setting was nice and sunsets were lovely but it did get a little busy with ATV traffic.
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We did a little bit of exploring and 4-wheeling ourselves and discovered we were on the southeast edge of the Badlands. The soil was so gummy that after a night of rain, we had to wrap plastic bags over our shoes just to get from the front door to the truck.20160816_16240320160816_17031920160816_17032620160816_17033920160820_070356

Having intended to move LCC to a campground in Badlands National Park, we took a day trip without trailer in tow to check it out. This is our first view of one of the many impressive canyons.

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We followed the path and walked down to get a closer look. Jim is not quite as comfortable as I am when it comes to ledges and areas where vertigo may become an issue, but I ventured out further onto the sandstone ridge, as I am wont to do. (Smile)20160817_13442220160817_134439

We saved most of our sightseeing for our planned tour with our friends but we encountered wildlife, as advertised, and just had to take advantage of the photo ops.

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Side note: After making our way to the campground, we realized it was not worth dragging our casa the 12 miles on the dirt road. The camping area was down in a low spot with not much to see.

Our official trip to the Badlands began with breakfast at the infamous Wall Drug. And don’t forget the free ice water. From there, we drove the 31-mile loop through the park, stopping often to take in the incredible scenery. I took dozens of pictures but, sadly some of my favorites were not clear …surely, not operator error?!

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Of course, we couldn’t leave South Dakota without visiting  a few of the other notable monuments and points of interest: Crazy Horse Memorial, Mt. Rushmore and Devil’s Tower.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a spectacular and monumental (no pun intended) undertaking which is privately funded. Only Crazy Horse’s face has been completed to date. Even though we watched the informative video, it is hard to imagine just how massive the statue will be once the entire project is finished. At the current rate of progress, it seems doubtful we will be around to see it.

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After Crazy Horse it was on to Mt. Rushmore. The comparison of the two really helped put the massive scale of the Crazy Horse memorial into perspective: all four US presidents’ faces would fit inside the face of the Native American.

The grand entry highlights the state flags.

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The grounds of the park are beautiful and we enjoyed walking the Presidential Trail (.6 miles and 422 stairs). I was disappointed to find that climbing on the rocks in the park is prohibited under threat of federal imprisonment…but I did get to take one photo from beneath some rocks. (smile) We were even lucky enough to see some bighorn sheep.20160824_17424120160824_17492220160824_17410820160824_17392520160824_17555620160824_175926

Jim was impressed with the detailed stonework on the fireplaces on the grounds.

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We stayed for the lighting presentation but, sadly, my phone did not photograph well in the dark.20160824_202936

Our final “tourist” adventure was a short drive back into Wyoming to visit Devil’s Tower. It was visible from the highway well before arriving at the park. This was the most enjoyable of the three for me. We took the option of the nearly three-mile hike around the incredible rock through grasslands, over rocks and across the rich, red earth. It is easy to see how Native Americans held the magnificent geologic structure and surrounding red earth sacred.

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It was a fun visit to the mid-west! Did we miss anything?

 

 

6 Responses to On to South Dakota

  1. Richard/Susan Nelson November 12, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    Nice! Love seeing your adventures!! Keep ’em coming!! And remember–you’re welcome back here any time!

  2. Annie November 12, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    Thank you, Richard and Susan for your support! And thank you for your invitation to return! We enjoyed our visit with you very much and will be in touch if we travel your way again.

  3. kevin November 15, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

    Hey Jim,
    I love the photos and the places you’ve been traveling to. Wasn’t devils tower in the movie “Close encounters of the third kind”? It looks so familiar- slight pun intended. You have certainly been traveling the country, I love it. You’ve made it easier for me to add destinations to my list of places to get to. One of these days we will cross paths and visit again.
    Until next time, keep it up, stay safe and enjoy this great country we live in..

    Kevin Fowler
    ktfowler.com

    • sail4free November 15, 2016 at 10:53 pm #

      Yup — it was featured in the movie — very spiritual place for millions. We took the longer hike around it (3 miles) — well worth the time as the view changes with every step. With one year under our belt, I have a feeling we’ll slow down a bit now — roll fewer miles and spend more time at fewer locations . . . should be easier on the wallet too. 🙂 I look forward to meeting you again on down the trail.

  4. Daniel Bauer March 27, 2017 at 12:33 am #

    This may be an old question but I am new to your blog. How do you find such wonderful free campsites while traveling? First saw you on You Tube Cheap RV Living

    • JIM PETERSON March 28, 2017 at 9:45 am #

      No worries. To find most of our FREE campsites, we use campendium.com and freecampsites.net
      We’re also members of Boondockers Welcome and another great resource we haven’t joined yet is Harvest Hosts. It’s usually just one night with HH but BW can be two or three days or more — depending on the host. Often we just park, unhook from the trailer and bomb around to make sure we have the best spot in the area . . . or a spot where we can get internet access — depending on what our needs are. That spot featured in the video is only about a mile downstream from where we camped last year for a few weeks so we scoped it out last year and were hoping it would be vacant this year . . . and it was 🙂

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