(These next few posts will recap a trip from last May-June when I took my buddy Kim with me to visit family in South Dakota.)
Long time readers of my blog know I grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and travel here annually to see family. My good friend Kim had never visited the Black Hills and she'd always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore. So when I asked Kim if she wanted to join me on my next family visit, the answer was a resounding yes!
|Kim made it to Mt. Rushmore!|
The first couple days of our S. Dakota visit were spent at my sister's cabin, deep in the Black Hills. It rained a lot, so we spent most of our time watching the thunderstorms roll through. But the third day dawned sunny and clear. Perfect for our planned trip to Mt. Rushmore!
|The four faces|
Having grown up 20 miles away from the famous faces, I've seen Mt. Rushmore countless times. But I have to admit it was special to be with my friend for her first visit. Kim was as impressed as I thought she'd be.
|My parents were here too|
Carved between 1927 and 1941, Mt. Rushmore was the creation of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. The faces of four prominent US presidents were blasted onto a large, granite mountain - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Mt. Rushmore is now a US National Memorial.
After roaming around the memorial, oohing and aahing at the faces, and taking copious photos, Kim and I took my parents to lunch nearby at our family's favorite Black Hills restaurant - the Alpine Inn.
|Lunch at Alpine Inn|
Located in the cute town of Hill City, not far from Mt. Rushmore, this Bavarian-themed restaurant is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. As a matter of fact, the place fills up so fast my family usually tries to be there right when they open at 11 am to ensure we get a table. The food is great, but my favorite is choosing a decadent dessert from their extensive menu. This time Kim and I split a chocolate parfait.
|Walk around Sylvan Lake|
After all that food and chocolate, it was time for some exercise to burn it off. I drove over to scenic Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. There's no better place in the Black Hills for a beautiful stroll.
|Kim walks through the narrow chasm|
|Climbing up the granite|
|The next day - Badlands!|
|We saw one bighorn sheep|
Although the scenery is spectacular, the main reason I keep visiting the Badlands is for the wildlife.
|I love this overview|
|There was lots of green in between the rock formations|
However, it was another beautiful day and the bountiful rainfall that the area had been getting made everything super green.
|Taking a hike|
Stopping to take a hike on a nearby boardwalk, Kim and I noticed the trailhead kiosk was full of cliff swallow nests. These birds were building their mud abodes underneath the kiosk's eaves. Finally more wildlife to photograph! I may have taken a few images of these cute, colorful birds.
|I found a bunch of cliff swallows making nests|
While driving to the Badlands, Kim had noticed several signs for Wall Drug along the highway. She asked what it was. When we finished our Badlands tour, I swung by the nearby tiny town of Wall so Kim could find out.
|Of course we had to stop by Wall Drug!|
Wall Drug was the brainchild of the Hustead family. During the depression, they were struggling to keep their drugstore open. In order to lure in business, the Husteads created signs advertising "free ice water" and "5 cent coffee." They placed signs along all the popular roadways leading into Wall. Their advertising worked, and the business prospered.
|Ride 'em cowgirl!|
|Jackalopes are a thing here|
And speaking of jackalopes.....you can even buy your very own jackalope head to hang on your wall!
|Playin' cards with Poker Alice|
We had lunch, walked around the numerous gift shops, and posed for goofy photos whenever possible. I think Kim had a good time. I know I did!
Stay tuned for Part two of Kim's South Dakota adventure!