Day 22 July 9, 2012 Hot Springs, SD to Rapid City, South Dakota

Praire Dogs at Wind Cave National Park

Another A+ day for us.  A pretty mediocre breakfast at the Best Western but I did find 2 packets of oatmeal, even if they were flavored.  I feel some days that I am getting so many chemicals from the hotel coffee (with fake creamers) to fake oatmeal and processed food.  Oh well, when we get home we will get back to our normal eating habits.  We really do get a pretty good amount of fresh fruit and vegetables … but I digress.

Buffalo at Wind Cave National Park

The temperature was in the low sixties when we left at 6:30 this AM. The skies were clear and the clouds big and puffy.  We headed out 385 North and were at Wind Cave National Park in less than 10 miles.  Our ride was continuous uphill but not uncomfortable so.  As promised the buffalos were out, we saw deer, we saw antelope, and there is a hug village of prairie Dogs … chattering away … We probably biked about 5 miles in the park until we diverted out of the park and to the town of Custer – purpose being that we wanted to enter Mount Rushmore from the rear (less steep).  It was quiet and fun and lots of green and wild flowers and big blue sky.

On the way toward Mount Rushmore we went by the Crazy Horse Memorial.  This is a work in progress since 1948.  We did not go in, just took a photo. We will save the walking excursion for when we come back in a vehicle.

We  continued climbing upward on route 244 East. There were beautiful columns of rock jutting over the pine trees.  The road was newly paved and great to ride on.  Traffic was fairly heavy for a Monday morning but we had space.  Thousands of acres of pine trees in the central part of the hills have been killed by the Pine  Beetle.  There have been large areas that have been taken down but there are lots of brown trees.  The area was still beautiful.  One of our fellow bikers who rides with a GPS told us we had climber about 4,000 feet when we arrived at the memorial 52 miles into our journy.  Time for a break.

We grabbed a salad and fruit drink, help unload the luggage truck and chatted with other riders as they came in.  I think I probably know 3/4 of the people now by name (and it is only 3 weeks in!)  Amazing how forgetful I am.  We have the couples figured out,we have the women figured out (far fewer than men), and we have the International contingents figured out.  it is just all those southern men with southern accents and graying/balding heads that gets confusing. Oh well, have a few more weeks to go.

What a fun sight to see as we entered our place to stay tonight:  Rapid City, South Dakota.  We are told that it is a very nice city but we are 2 miles from the center.  We will have to add it to our next trip list.  Tomorrow we bike to Wall, South Dakota – only 58 miles.  Wall Drug Store, often referred to simply as “Wall Drug”, is a tourist attraction located in the town of Wall, South Dakota, United States. It is a shopping mall consisting of a drug store, gift shop, restaurants and various other stores. Unlike a traditional shopping mall, all the stores at Wall Drug operate under a single entity instead of being individually run stores. The New York Times has described Wall Drug as “a sprawling tourist attraction of international renown [that] takes in more than $10 million a year and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town”.

We will fill you in tomorrow.