Sunday, October 4, 2009

South Dakota Trip

I'm way behind in my blog postings!  Lots has happened, so I'm attempting to catch up!  Here are some photos from early September, when I went to visit my family in South Dakota.

My parent's backyard can be a real "Wild Kingdom."  Their neighbor likes to feed the wildlife, and that attracts lots of deer and wild turkeys.  Here's a gobbler I caught in their backyard one day.

My Dad shows why he's "king of the grill."

One night we all hit happy hour at a local Mexican restaurant.  They offered cheap pitchers of margueritas.  That was enough to get us in the door!  The underage crowd had to enjoy sodas or virgin margueritas.

No visit to the Black Hills is complete without a visit to the Alpine Inn.  It's a great German restaurant located in the heart of the Hills.  My Mom, Sister, Denise, and I had a "girl's day" and went out to lunch.  After a wonderful lunch, we made room to have one of their "to die for" desserts! 

My niece Rachael got a great summer job working in the bird show at a local wildlife park.  After lunch, we dropped in and caught her show.  It was a fun show, and Rachael did a great job.  Here she's asking the parrot to wave "goodbye."

The next day, a large group of us set out to hike "Little Devil's Tower."  We got started on the wrong trailhead at first, so that killed some time.  Most of our group had to turn back early - some were tired and others had to be somewhere.  So Denise, Susan and I hiked on towards the top of the tower.

The trail got real steep and rocky, and pretty soon it was more of a rock climb than a hike.  We had to follow blue diamonds painted in the rock for a trail.  Denise and Susan take a breather before the final climb to the top.

But once we were at the top - oh what a view!  We looked across at Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota.  We could see the Needles, Custer State Park, and towards Mt. Rushmore.  It was a clear sunny day so the views were optimum.

Susan and I posed for a "sister's summit shot."   It was great to be able to hike with my sis.

The next day, I drug my family on another hike.  This time we hiked from Mt. Rushmore to Horsethief Lake, a distance of about three miles.  It was a pretty trail.  My niece Alisha came along and she did pretty good (I did have to bribe her with a rice crispie treat once!).  Here's the gang resting on some steps in the trail.

A view of the cool granite outcrops that we saw along the trail.  The rocks in the Black Hills are these pretty sparkling granites, with lots of unique minerals in them.  I miss the variety of rock - all we have in Oregon is boring volcanic rock.

Trail's end!  Hooray!  Time for some lunch!

After lunch we stopped by Mt. Rushmore, because my sister said they had the best ice cream (and she was right!).  It had been awhile since I'd visited the famous faces, so it was good to check out the memorial and see how it had changed.  The Avenue of Flags is still the same.   We located the Oregon flag, and found someone with an Oregon Ducks t-shirt standing under it!  I told him we were from Oregon but were Beaver fans, and he made a snide remark about OSU.  I guess for some folks, the rivalry doesn't take a vacation.

You gotta get the "tourist shot" by the presidents.

On the way back to the car, we ran into a mountain goat.  He was walking around inside the memorial.  As a matter of fact, he walked right across the sidewalk, past one of my nieces.  The goat calmly climbed the hill beside the sidewalk and began munching away at the grass.  He was totally oblivious to the many camera-clicking tourists that were having a heyday.

It was great to visit home and see my family.  I enjoyed taking a couple of hikes in the Black Hills, something I haven't done for a very long time.  I'm glad my family (especially my folks) were able to hike with me.  I'll be planning some more hikes for next summer's visit!

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