Rushmore and More

Our time in South Dakota was much busier than we had anticipated, we wanted to see as much as we could while in the state, and there is so much we wanted to see.

It also didn’t help that we kept finding more to do and see. Sigh, we may have to come back next summer to do more exploring.

Before continuing this, we wanted to have a ‘squirrel’ moment and talk about another lesson learned on the road. We had done a lot of research on how we would stay connected enough to upload photos and work on our blog. We knew that counting on park wifi was pretty risky but had no idea how difficult it would be in reality. At our first stop, we had a weak signal but purchased a wifi amplifier.

Belkin Range Extender.  Works well.

Belkin Range Extender. Works well.

That helped us a bit. Two parks later, we had another weak signal, but it was even worse and the amplifier did no good. Again, we had done our research and knew the signal tapered off with distance, and if one or more RV’s were between us and the tower, we might get no signal at all. Not to mention if someone decides to stream a season of Babylon 5….

We did talk to a number of our ‘neighbors’ and even park owners to hear suggestions. What it came down to was getting a wifi hotspot to connect our techie toys. So, we double checked coverage service in the places we plan on traveling, contacted a service and are now up and running on wifi….

Verizon Hotspot.  Works great... so far

Verizon Hotspot. Works great… so far

We should be able to keep up with mail and posts, at least until we are between mountains, deep in a valley somewhere.

Back to the post, sort of…. Finding a place to stay that was relatively near all our planned stops was one of our first difficulties. Doing our research, we saw that some full timers stay for a few days in one spot then travel for a few hours and repeat. While others, choose to find a central spot, stay for an extended period and drive to see landmarks.

It is really a matter of comfort. For us, we would prefer to find a nice central location and do relatively few ‘set-ups’ even if that means a long drive to something we wanted to see. So many reasons for that, for us. The RV is still new enough that we obsess over take down and set-up. Probably sounds silly, but it is our home now. We both take at least three or more trips around the darn thing each time we are ready to leave to make sure everything is disconnected, locked, closed, un-chocked…. LOL, are we crazy? You should see us when we stop for fuel. It is a regular ritual of checking clearances top, side and every other way. Sherry gets out with the CB Walkie-Talkie and we go through a whole docking maneuver. Gee, I wonder what the poor truckers must think is going on if we are overheard? (Insert your own ribald comments here).  If you are ever on a CB, near a gas station, on channel 17 and hear a, well odd conversation, it might be us.

Midland CB Walkie Talkie.  Great when backing a 5th Wheel into a small spot.

Midland CB Walkie Talkie. Great when backing a 5th Wheel into a small spot.

Oh well, works for us and hopefully, keeps us safe and relatively damage free. We also aren’t gutsy enough, yet, to really try Boondocking, but we may once we have a few months under our belts and a lot more confidence.

The famous Wall Drug Store.  Love the donuts, pecan rolls, coffee....

The famous Wall Drug Store. Love the donuts, pecan rolls, coffee….

So, our decision on where to stay in SD came down to a location with good access to everywhere we wanted to see. It came down to that iconic town, Wall. Yep, we stayed within walking distance of Wall Drug Store. It gave us easy access to the Badlands; a place we both wanted to explore and visit several times during our stay. It was also only a little over an hour from Rapid City, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. It worked for us.

We know we are bound to do something stupid, again. However, we really want to minimize damages to the ‘usual’ things that happen when hauling a 37 foot fiberglass box at 65 MPH over bumpy highways. What are those usual things? So far, a broken closet clothes rod, some loose screws on wheel covers and a broken slider on our awning to name a few. All relatively easy repairs. Sean has even said it is kind of fun to play around with that stuff… Hmmm, not sure he is right in the head all the time. We try to be very careful with everything on the interior of the RV, especially the wine cooler. It has a special place set aside to protect our favorite liquid grapes. : )

high res-7345

In an earlier post, we talked about our trip to Crazy Horse and how impressed we were with the work done and still to be done. Two days after seeing Crazy Horse, we returned to the area to visit Mt. Rushmore. Where Crazy Horse was raw, Mt. Rushmore was refined. Crazy Horse seemed to be straining to emerge from the rocky face, Mt. Rushmore was a finished product. Both, absolutely amazing sites to see!

The drive to Rushmore is gorgeous and goes through the town of Keystone.  Very nice shops and restaurants.

The entry to Rushmore.  Sherry, looking lovely as usual.

The entry to Rushmore. Sherry, looking lovely as usual.

Walking through the granite entry way, the presidents were perfectly framed. We were, once again, very fortunate with the weather. The day we visited, had blue skies with puffy white clouds. That would change as we were leaving, unfortunately, for locals and many visitors. Early June in SD was very wet with a lot of flooding.high res-7412

Rushmore has a very nice museum, we both enjoyed walking through, looking at the various artifacts and the movie was quite good. We walked down to the sculptors workshop and up the trail to see the Mountain from the Lincoln side.

From the sculptors workshop.

From the sculptors workshop.

Truly amazing! After a good deal of stair climbing and hiking, we decided to end our day with some ice cream! Yum, we tried the Jefferson recipe and mint chocolate chip.  We would go back to see Rushmore one more time before leaving the Dakota’s.

We haven’t mentioned all the ‘touristy’ stops, wineries and micro breweries to be found on the road to both Crazy Horse and Rushmore… There are a lot.  We did try a few local wines and had fun with Red Ass Rhubbarb.  Sean, normally not a lover of sweet wines, actually enjoyed this one.

We did make one ‘tourist’ stop at Big Bear Country.  This is a drive through wild animal park.  Worth seeing, especially if you have kids along.  We enjoyed all the bear babies.

A playful bear cub.

A playful bear cub.

Next up, our final trip into the Badlands before moving on.  🙂

We had to stop at Bear Country.  Not a real bear. :)

We had to stop at Bear Country. Not a real bear. 🙂

Here is a link to the rest of our Rushmore Photos.

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