August 5, 2008 – Tuesday – Day 17
0154 Wake up. For no reason that I can discern other than to see what time it is.
A BIG thunderstorm rolled through at I don’t know what time then…
0400 Wake up to register Felisa for gymnastics class. Online registration starts at 0500 Eastern Time and this class always fills up before I can get in. So this time I’m biting the bullet and waking up in the middle of the night to sign up!
0540 Calendar feature of my cell phone rings to remind me to register for gymnastics. I was nothing if not thorough in my backup systems this time!
0600 Alarm – time to wake up
0720 Breakfast at the hotel. The serving area was way too crowded so we grabbed what we could and went back to our room to eat.
0754 Leaving the hotel, headed for South Dakota
0809 Ryan remembers that he left his CD bag in the hotel room. He was staying in Grandpa’s room and apparently neither one of them did a thorough check before they left. So we turn around and go back to get it.
0826 Leaving the hotel again.
0949 South Dakota!!!
0952 Motorcyclists heading in the opposite direction. Each one of them points out the roadkill to the next guy behind.
1030 Arrive at Custer State Park.
1115 Stop to see the buffalo along the side of the road.
1124 Stop to see the burros on the side of the road. Someone is feeding them and when he runs out of food, they come looking to us next. Two of them have their heads stuck in the driver’s side window. We barely escape…
12:00 p.m. Arrive at Mount Rushmore. Along with about a million motorcyclists (or so it seems) and a bunch of other tourists. By this point I am tired from driving on the very curvy road and I have a headache from the constant sound of motorcycles on the road. I’m also getting a bit hungry which is never good for my attitude. We took pictures then went to the gift shop. Then it was time to escape the insanity and head for our next stop.
12:48 p.m. Leaving Mount Rushmore
1:11 p.m. Stop at the Golden Spike restaurant outside Hill City. Hill City was closed to cars. Only motorcycles could drive into town. Everyone else had to go around on the truck route. Lunch turned out to be surprisingly good. The food came out very quickly and it was actually not busy so it was calm and quiet. A nice change after spending the morning on the road. And did I mention too many motorcycles?!?
1:58 p.m. Leaving lunch.
2:07 p.m. Stop at Prairie Berry Winery for a taste. Interesting wines. Most of them are made with different berries from South Dakota. As usual, I definitely liked the sweet wines best. Between Lana and I, we picked up 6 bottles then wondered which child we should evict from the car to make room for the wine. Ultimately there was room for all the kids and the wine. Phew.
2:50 p.m. Stopped at Cosmos Mystery Area. This place had been recommended by a friend of Lana’s as fun, especially for the kids. Lana ended up with a headache, I remained a skeptic, and the kids had a blast! Basically you tour a cabin built on a “hot spot” in the area which pulls things in strange directions such that you can practically stand on the walls without falling.
3:36 p.m. Done with our touring for the day. Time to head back to our hotel in Custer and relax a bit.
We went across the street to Dakota Cowboy Café for dinner. Another pleasant surprise in that it was quiet and not super busy. We even ordered smores for dessert… cooked the marshmallows over a small fire right at our table. Fun!
On our way home for dinner, we noticed the gas station across the street was almost empty so we went directly over. Every gas station we had passed today had been overflowing with motorcycles. So time to get our gas while the getting is good!
Back at the hotel it was swimming time then bed time. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted!
(License plates: British Columbia, Connecticut - only 4 states left to find and we'll have all 50!)