Thursday, September 17, 2009

Great Places to go near Custer, South Dakota

I'd like to tell you about a few other places we went to in South Dakota

4 Mile Museum

They had an amazing player piano in the giftshop. It played the piano and there was a drum in the bottom that played also! It was for sale. I would love to buy it. A little out of my price range at $3000. Besides, it wouldn't fit in the camper... ha ha ha.

There was a young man that was dressed up that walked around the "town"

Naomi loves the old typewriters. She is into the American Girls right now and loves the Kit books. Kit is a journalist.

The 4 mile Museum was cute and interesting. It is in the actual location of the 4 Mile Town that used to be there. It was named that because it was, yes, 4 miles west of Custer. There was also a 7 Mile Town. The museum was made to be like an actual old west town. It was very inexpensive to get in. We got a tape recorder that had a voice tour of the place. The buildings were pretty run down. The displays were ok. But, if you know us, we had a great time. We can have a great time in lots of crazy places. The kids loved running around and pretending they were in the old west. I did learn a lot. The audio tour was very informative. Some of the buildings were kept up fairly well. It didn't cost a lot to get in, so I do recommend it. It is an affordable place for the family to go and experience an old west town.

Spirit Horse Escape

There was a petting zoo and horse rides 3 miles west of the Four Mile Museum. It was nice. We bought little bowls of food to feed the animals at the free petting zoo. The horse rides were fun for the kids. They just went around in a circle. It was only $5. a piece. Sometimes these expensive museums are just too much for us so it is nice to go somewhere affordable.

Custer Courthouse Museum

It was a real nice county museum. $1 each. There was so much to look at. Cody thought the different taxidermy pieces were cool. They had an old mountain lion stuffed and one done with more recent taxidermy skills. The new one looked beautiful while the older one was quite scary!

Other Places
Hanna's beautiful photography.

Cody makes knives and sells them. He finished up a real nice one with file work.

Rock formations in the area are beautiful.

Bikes on Main Street in Custer, SD just before Bike Week.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Minuteman Missile Site, South Dakota

We have seen a lot on the old west, Oregon Trail, Lewis and Clark, but very little on more current events. So, I was very excited when I found a Minuteman National Historic Site.

During the Cold War with Russia, the U.S. began to stockpile nuclear weapons. The U.S. built missile launch sites all over the country. This particular one, in South Dakota, housed the Minuteman One and Two Missile. Minuteman Two Missile had the equivalent of 100 million tons of dynamite. Because it had solid fuel, it could be deployed by crews miles away. It could travel over the North Pole to a target on the other side of the world and destroy it in a total of 30 minutes or less.

We went to the visitors center where we got to talk to two extremely knowledgeable Rangers. One Ranger had actually worked at the missile site. He was great! We didn't make it to the actual launch site. You had to go at specific times or by appt. It just didn't work out for us. The kids did a Junior Ranger program there. I printed it up from the internet before we went and they had them done by the time we got there.

There are still 500 nuclear missiles ready to be deployed from locations across the northwest.

We found this an extremely interesting stop and encourage everyone to check it out. If you love history, this will be a great place! It is located on Hwy 240 in Phillip, SD. 70 miles east of Rapid City. We went there right before the Badlands.

The Mammoth Site, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Josephine loved listening to the tour guide on the phones. This is also her in the bone house.

We really enjoyed the Mammoth Dig site in Hot Springs, SD. It is an active museum/fossil dig site. There used to be a sink hole with a spring in it. Male mammoths, ages 19-35 would go to the edge to eat the greener grass in the winter or would climb in to drink. The ground would give way and they would fall in as they ate or they would climb in to drink and not be able to climb out of the slippery slopes on the side. Notice who and the age of the mammoths that fell in. There is a lesson in that. I must say, there are so many exceptions in humans to that generalization of men. My son, Cody, is extremely responsible and safe. He wouldn't eat the grass at the edge, he would design some contraption to cut the grass from a distance and then he would add bacon to it and eat it for breakfast! Ha! Ha! Anyways, all of us loved it. We were able to walk around the dig site and watch the actual scientists dig the bones up. It was surprising to see how little they have actually dug in the last 30 some years. They have dug about 22 feet down and still have at least 60 more feet. That would be around 90 more years of digging up mammoth bones. Yikes. The tour was excellent. Even little 2 yr old Josephine was entertained. She loved the mammoth bone house she got to play in. The museum also told about other extinct animals. All of us learned a ton.

They have found 58 Columbian Mammoths and 3 Woolly Mammoths, as well as 80 other species of animals and plants so far. They discovered the site in 1974.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cottonwood Reservoir and Cold Brook Reservoir near Hot springs,SD

After a fun time at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota we decided to stop at a couple of reservoirs to do some kayaking.

Cottonwood Reservoir was almost totally dry. We hiked and watched for rattlesnakes and mountain lions. 
You can barely see Shae and Cody at the top of the cliff overlooking the reservoir.
 There are so many grasshoppers. Gabriel and Josephine kept trying to step on them!
The boat ramp leading into the almost totally dry reservoir.
Where is the water?
So, we left there and tried Cold Brook Reservoir. It was great. The water was clear as could be. The guys said you could see to the bottom even way out.

The reservoir was beautiful. The kids had a nice time playing on the beach while others kayaked.

 We also saw a museum at the VA hospital. It was a beautiful structure but was closed.

It was a fun day and we were totally exhausted by the time we got back. 

It is nice to come home after a long day.
Sleep good!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

South Dakota - Random Thoughts on our Time There

South Dakota is wonderful. The Black Hills are beautiful. There are so many Ponderosa Pines...everywhere. The air is so clean and fresh. People are friendly there. The roads shimmer. It reminded me of South Carolina. In SC, there was shiny pieces of rock all of the ground. Brent said it was formica. Now, I know I probably spelled that wrong, but I just don't have the time to look it up in the dictionary right now. In SD, there is Mica everywhere. Many people come here to find rocks and fossils. We came to SD right before the Sturgis Bike Rally, so there were more motorcycles than usual. Since my sister and brother in law are bikers, I think bikers are pretty great. We met some really nice ones.

Two weeks was just not enough time to stay in Custer. We went to the courthouse museum on the main street. The Four Mile Museum - four miles west of town was interesting. There isn't much of an entrance fee. It needs some fixing up, but would recommend it anyways. There is also a free petting zoo and horse stables just 3 miles past that. We enjoyed feeding the animals. Really nice people own this place. Sylvan Lake is stunning, just don't go up Needles Hwy with a trailer to get there! We hiked to Bismark Lake on Custer State Park. The dam there is small, but pretty. Shae, Cody, and Hanna tried to walk around the small lake, but couldn't make it. There were too many boulders. We kayaked on Stockton Lake on the west end of Custer State Park. It was full of algae. Everyone still enjoyed it, just tried not to get wet. The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs was great. It is wonderful to let the kids experience different things. Seeing an active fossil dig was unique. Josephine loved the tour. There were telephones we had to listen through to hear the guide. There is also a house made out of replica mammoth bones. Josephine loved playing in it. Cottonwood Resevoir was great to kayak in. We took 2 days at the Badlands. I have a previous post about it. If you have any questions about any of these places,just let me know! South Dakota was great. Our campground was nice and the sites were wonderful!

Pryor Mountains and Wild Horses

I have skipped quite a bit of time. I will write about Yellowstone and Cody, Mammoth Site, Rodeo, the stars hanging close to us in the sky in the Big Horn Mts., Buffalo, geisers, Sundance, and family, Lusk, racing lawn mowers, kissing cows, and a great church. There is so much to tell, but I'll talk about those later. I want to talk about today.

What a strange day. It was wonderful, yet, unique. We heard about a bunch of wild horses that live in the Pryor Mountain range near Lovell, WY. I really wanted to see them. It would be such a unique experience for the kids. It is not something you can see very many places.

As we drove north of Lovell, we noticed there are off road riding trails all over the mountains. The mountains are interesting. They aren't the huge mountains of the Big Horns, smaller, yet still big. It looks a lot like the Badlands in South Dakota. There is a canyon in the middle, called Devils Canyon. I wish such wonderful sights would not be named after the nasty ol' devil. The canyon was so deep with a beautiful river flowing through it. The river is not fast where we saw it.

As we drove through the area we came across the wild horses, roaming the hills. It was strange to think they are wild yet confined to that area. They are free yet kept.  They are managed in many ways yet belong to no one.

This is where the controvery really heats up. While we were there the BLM was rounding up the herd and taking a count. They have a specific number of wild horses that can live off of the amount of land that is available. They auction off all the extra horses that they feel would suffer needlessly in the long cold winter months. Some would die from lack of food - according to their figures.

Then there are the activists who have a different number. They feel more horses can be left on the land than what the BLM does.  They disagree on more issues than I have the energy to write about.  Their concern is for the wellfare of this herd and its future also but they feel that the BLM is not managing the herd properly.

It is hard to say who is right.  To study the land and how many animals it can support is not something the average person can complete.  This is truly a passionate controversy that we happened to land in the middle of.

As we pulled into the "round up" area, we were told there had been death threats on the BLM staff by people who were against the round up.

Just like our visit to the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana and our stop at Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia, this too would cause me to dig deep into my heart and mind and give my children a fair education of the comlexities of life.  We discussed this dilemma and walked away from it with a new love for a beautiful herd of horses.

We can only hope that these groups of people who only want what is best for these amazing horses will find common ground and be able to have open ears, minds, and hearts as they push forward to preserve this amazing American heritage.

Here are some links for more information.