John and Sandy's RV Adventure Journal

June 2011 Journal

Another great day!  We headed up to Sylvan Lake which is a beautiful area.  Some of the movie “National Treasure 2” was filmed there.  John has another trail, Sunday Gulch he wants to hike.  Since it’s 3 miles and up and down elevation, I decided to relax along the lake front and do some reading.  I’m glad I did!  Even though the scenery along the hike is beautiful, it ended up to be about 5 miles and lots of climbing.  Not my kind of hike.  When John finished his hike, he joined me at the lakeshore.
Animal List – deer

A beautiful morning.  Sunny and warm.  We had our coffee outside while watching the birds.  I did some harmonica practice.  John’s salsa is gone, OMG!  He got some supplies yesterday, so he’s in the kitchen making up a batch.  It’s in the high 80’s and sunny today so a perfect beach day.  We headed over to Stockade Lake which is right down the road from us.  There is a small beach area.  I got all set up to catch some rays and John was ready for a hike.  He headed out to hike around the lake.  It ended up being a 5.5 mile hike.  Stockade Lake like everywhere around here is beautiful.  After his hike and my beach day, we headed back to the cow and did some reading outside while watching the deer’s play.  The baby deer’s are out with their moms now. 
Animal List – deer

28   Finally!  I am all caught up with our photos, journal and website.  We ended up taking a road trip to Rapid City.  We needed some RV supplies and since we were going all that way, we decided to stock up on some other items.  After dinner we relaxed outside and watched the deer’s across the street.
Animal List – deer

This morning after coffee outside with the birds, I got a little caught up on our journal.  I don’t know how it happened, but I’m so far behind.  Today was a Custer State Park day.  We headed to the wildlife loop and did a 4 mile hike on the Centennial trail.  We had brought sandwiches for dinner and after our hike we headed on the wildlife loop.  We stopped at the French Creek Trailhead and had our sandwiches while listing to the creek and watching a Pronghorn Antelope.
Animal List – deer, buffalo, prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope

26   Today we headed over to our friends Denny and Lisa’s campground up near Rapid City.  We all headed over to Ft. Hays for breakfast.  Ft. Hays was part of the set in the movie “Dances with Wolves” with Kevin Costner.  After a cowboy breakfast we walked around the set area and into the Ft. Hays Headquarters.  Hart Ranch another RV resort is having a RV show today, so we stopped over there and checked out some new RV’s.  Were not looking to get a new RV but we all like to get ideas on new stuff.  We took a drive into Rapid City to play some Pirate Mini Golf, but more storm clouds are rolling in so we headed back to Denny and Lisa’s campground.  We spent a few hours visiting with them and they had some great appetizers and a really nice dinner for us.  Right before sunset we headed home. 25   The days are starting to get much nicer.  Today is sunny and around 75 degrees.  We headed to a new area of the park over at Center Lake.  We did a 4 mile hike on the Grace Coolidge walk in trail from Center Lake.  It was my kind of trail.  Pretty level and a really pretty hike along a flowing creek.  We did have a cross it a couple times on homemade bridges made of logs.  But it worked out fine.  After we finished our hike, we had brought our chairs and set up a place along the lake to catch some rays and do some reading.
24   Everyone needs a domestic day now and then, so today we have one. 

Today John and Mike are hiking Harney Peak.  The trailhead for #9 to Harney is at Sylvan Lake in Custer St. Park.  I am not hiking Harney.  It’s not a bad hike, just 7 miles round trip with an elevation climb of 1100 up and down.  So I sent John and Mike on their way around 930am and I enjoyed a leisurely day at Sylvan Lake.  I found a nice area in the sun to relax, read, play my harmonica and just take in the beauty of the lake and the surrounding area.  John and Mike were gone for almost 6 hours.  From Harney you can see 4 states, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.  Harney was used as a fire tower but is now abandoned.  Harney is the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountain until you get to the Swiss Alps.  The elevation is 7,244 feet.  When they were done it was time to head home.22   Today we headed into Custer and to the visitors center.  We found out there is a Frisbee Golf Course right down the street.  So we headed over to play 18 holes.  It’s a beautiful course, but tough!  You start out on the bottom of the mountain and work your way up the mountain about a 750 foot elevation gain.  You are also throwing your Frisbee over rocks and have to forage through the brush to get to it.  We had a good time and it was beautiful, but I’m tired and ready for a break.  We stopped at the VFW for a couple cocktails and a little video poker.
21   Today was much nicer than it’s been and we needed to explore.  We headed over to Wind Cave Natl. Park for some hiking.  We took the Rankin Ridge Lookout Tower Trail which is about 2 miles long.  When you make it to the top you have a 360 degree view of the entire area.  This tower is used to look for wildfires.  It was beautiful up there.  To our East there were still bad storms, so it was cool to sit and watch the clouds and rain.  We saw herds of buffalo in different directions.  Even though it’s summer the spring flowers are really starting to bloom.  I was done hiking for the day, but John needed more.  I dropped him at the Centennial Trailhead at the border of Wind Cave NP and Custer St. Park.  He had a 2.5 mile hike up to 4 mile Draw Road where I picked him up.  He did have his raincoat which was good, because it did start raining.  I hung out at the trailhead for a while and watched the little Prairie Dogs play.  The babies are old enough to venture out of the burrow now, and they are so little and cute.  When I picked up John, the rain was coming harder so we headed back to the cow.
Animal List – deer, buffalo, prairie dogs, western tangier bird
 20   Today is another rainy, windy and cool day.  We decided it’s a good day to have a domestic day.  By later in the afternoon it got nicer and we took a walk around the area.
Animal List – deer, lots of birds on feeder

This morning we headed over to our campgrounds restaurant for breakfast.  Afterwards, we just had a lazy day around the cow.  We have a cool rain so it’s a good day to be lazy.
Animal List – deer, lots of birds on feeder

Today we have a full day.  We headed over to the farmers market to get some salsa supplies for John.  Well there was a farmers market but only 3 vendors so it didn’t work out too well.  Now we headed over to Crazy Horse Monument to meet up with our friends Denny and Lisa and go to the CH museum and rodeo.  It’s a perfect day for a rodeo.  We really liked this one because it wasn’t too touristy.  Just a good ole down and dirty rodeo.  Afterwards when we were in the parking lot getting ready to head home we were talking about the keys and some people told us they live on the smiley houseboat down at Garrison Bight in Key West.  They travel the summer on their motorcycle and then winter in the keys.  We headed home and relaxed outside enjoying the warm sunshine.
Animal List – deer, lots of birds on feeder 17   This morning was cold about 42 and very windy.  We decided to explore the town of Custer.  We headed to the visitors center first.  We got lots of info that we didn’t have or know about.  Right behind the visitor’s center is a hike up the mountain that overlooks Custer.  It has wooden stairs built in so it’s not a bad hike.  We took our time and made it to the top.  There is plaque that shows where Harney Peak and the needles are.  Also throughout the side of the mountain is a disc golf course.  We got a map from the visitor’s center to play later.  After we took in the scenery, we started back down to check out the park where the 4th of July fireworks are going to be.  We made it down and back to Main Street.  We stopped at the VFW for a couple cocktails and played a little video poker.  We continued on through town, but Custer is not a very big town.  We were done and stopped at the grocery store to pick up something for dinner.
Animal List – deer, lots of birds on feeder
 16   This morning I played with my new MP3 player and got it all loaded up, worked on our journal, photos and website.  John is ready for a hike, so we drove into Custer St Park and I dropped him off at the horse camp so he could hike on the Centennial Trail down to the Wildlife Loop road.  On our way to the horse camp we only saw deer which is very odd since we always see so much wildlife.  However, on my way to pick up John, I saw a huge herd of buffalo.  I stopped for a while and just watched them.  The baby buffalo are getting bigger and bolder.  They will just dart away from mom and run.  Then more follow.  It’s very humorous to watch.  I picked up John after his 3 mile hike.  He was going to continue on, but storm clouds are brewing so he decided he was done for the day.  We stopped to watch the buffalo herd again.  I had brought snacks, so we watched them for about 20 minutes.  On our way home, the rain came so it’s better John quit hiking.
Animal List – deer, buffalo
15   Today is Magic and Gypsy’s 13th birthday.  We had a celebration for them this morning with a gourmet meal and toys with catnip.  They were all excited.  We left them to play and headed into Custer State Park for some hiking.  Today is a beautiful day.  About 72 degrees and sunny.  Perfect!  First we headed up Needles Hwy to Cathedral Spires Trail.  This is about 3 miles round trip.  John headed in and on his way back I met him along the trail.  Parts of it are climbing and strenuous so not for me.  Next we continued on Needles through the rock tunnel to the Little Devils Tower trailhead.  This is a 4 mile strenuous trail.  Once again not for me, but it’s on Johns bucket list.  I enjoyed myself reading under the pine trees listening to nature.  One more hike left.  We continued on to Sylvan Lake.  A couple weeks ago when we were here there was snow on the ground.  Not today.  Beautiful!  We took the Lake Shore Trail which is about 2 miles.  It’s a beautifully scenic trail.  Lots of places to stop and take in nature.  Ok, hikes are done and it’s happy hour time at the Dark Horse in Custer.  We stopped for a couple beers then headed back to enjoy the nice weather outside at our campsite. 
Animal List – deer, lots of birds, chipmunks
14   This morning we hung around the cow.  We have some storms in the area today.  Later we walked over to Stockade Fort which is at the entrance to Custer State Park about a ½ mile from our campsite. 
Animal List – deer, lots of birds
13   Today we headed over to Jewel Cave Natl Monument.  John wanted at big hike and we wanted to check out cave tours.  We got on the Scenic Tour which lasts about 1.5 hrs and is ½ mile long loop with 723 steps.  First you take an elevator down to 274 feet below the surface.  The guide takes you up and down stairs and paths.  Year round it’s a constant 49 degrees in the cave.  At one point the lowest we got was 379 feet below the surface.  The formations at Jewel Cave are completely different from Wind Cave.  Where Wind Cave had so much box worth formations, Jewel Cave has less than 3% of box worth formations.  Jewel Cave is the second longest cave system in the world.  Currently 154 miles but is constantly being explored.  After our cave exploration, we took the roof trail around the visitor’s center and then headed a mile down the road to Hell Canyon Trail.  I’m done hiking for the day so John headed off.  I enjoyed reading my book taking in nature while John explored Hell Canyon.  He had to go up and around and cross a creek a couple times.  He said it wasn’t too strenuous but it worked out to be about 7 miles.  We were going to sit outside and have a couple cocktails when we got back, but more storms are moving through.  John finished up his hike just in time. 
Animal List – deer, lots of birds, chipmunks
12   This morning is bright, sunny and much warmer.  We had our coffee outside while watching the birds at out feeder.  We headed up to the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and the Elk Wilderness area for a hike.  We did a nice 4 mile round trip through the ponderosa pines on the Iron Mountain Trail.  Like always here, we saw dozens on buffalo and even had a buffalo traffic jam when they wouldn’t get off the road.  After our hike we picked up a few supplies and were going to sit outside, but the storms rolled in again.  We don’t mind when their later in the day.  So we relaxed in the cow and watched a movie.
Animal List – deer, buffalo, lots of birds

We headed into Custer St Park to the Centennial Trailhead off Hwy 87.  John is ready for a big hike.  I will meet him down by Legion Lake Campground which is an 8.3 mile hike.  John said the hike had some elevation, but for the most part was very relaxing.  He did almost step on a baby turkey chick, and then all of a sudden the mom came and started yelling at him.  Of course we saw deer and buffalo.  You can’t help but see them all the time.
Animal List – deer, buffalo, lots of birds, turkey chicks and mom

This morning is sunny with a few clouds mixed in, but it’s still cold, only 40 degrees.  We are ready for a warm dry spell.  We decided to head over to Wind Cave National Park today.  We had a 1.5 hour wait until our tour started so we watched a movie about the history of Wind Cave.  After the movie we walked through the visitor’s center and read all about the cave.  Our tour, the Natural Entrance Cave Tour last about 1.25 hours and goes about a ½ mile with 300 stairs.  First we met our ranger Doug which was very informative and a great tour guide.  He showed us the original entrance to the cave and explained how wind travels up to 70mph in our out of the entrance based on barometric pressure outside.  Also inside the cave there is no wind at all and always 53 degrees year round.  Wind Cave is one of the longest cave systems in the world currently 134 miles has been explored.  It also has 95% of box worth cave formations in the world.  We took the stairs into the cave and followed pathways.  At one point we were about 300 feet below the surface.  After our cave tour, we took a hike on the Prairie Vista Trail by the visitor’s center.  This is about a 1 mile trail on the surface over the cave.  From the surface, you wouldn’t even know there are any caves below the surface.  After our hike, we headed back to our campground.  We drove through Wind Cave National Park and into Custer State Park.  Like always here, we saw so much wildlife.  We decided to head into Custer City for happy hour.  We walk around town and stopped at a couple places for cocktails.
Animal List – deer, buffalo, prairie dogs and babies, pronghorn antelope. Rain and cold weather came in overnight.  This morning we hung around the cow, did some reading and researched future campgrounds.  When the rain let up, we headed to do some laundry and picked up a couple videos for tonight.
Animal List – deer out our windows, lots of birds on our feeders.

Nice sunny morning.  We had coffee outside while watching nature.  We reorganized Red to get ready for hiking.  Since we stocked up on supplies yesterday, John is on a mission this morning.  He is making a new batch of salsa.  As I’m updating this journal, I’m looking out my window and watching the white tailed deer graze in the field across the street.
We headed out for some hiking this afternoon.  We took the long way around Stockade Lake and then headed to the Badger Hole Trail.  On our way we saw a mama turkey with 8 little baby chicks.  Can you find 6 of them in our photo?
The Badger Hole trail is a 1 mile loop.  Afterwards, we headed down the wildlife loop road to the Prairie Trail 3 mile loop.  On the way we came across more herds of buffalo.  The Prairie Trail is an up and down trail and you have to cross the river 4 times.  For 3 of the crossings the branches set up to walk on were pretty stable.  However, on one crossing, it was very questionable.  We found a big stick to steady ourselves when we crossed and it all worked out.
On the way home we had a traffic jam of buffalo on the road.  You better watch out, when these buffalo are on the road, there can be some serious road rage.

Animal List – white tailed deer out our back window, herds of buffalo, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, mountain bluebirds, western tangier’s, turkey with 8 baby chicks, geese family with 6 chicks.
7   This morning is sunny, cool and very windy.  This afternoon we headed into Rapid City for new hiking boots and some major grocery shopping.  In Custer there is just a small grocery store so Rapid City is the best place to stock up on stuff.
Animal List – pronghorn antelopes, herds of white tailed deer out our back window

Moving Day.  We are not going far, from Custer St Park, Grace Coolidge Campground to Wheels West in Custer City.  We got all moved and set up and then headed into town for a few supplies.
Animal List – herds of buffalo in the park, herds of white tailed deer out our back window

Beautiful warm and sunny morning.  After coffee outside watching nature, we got ready for the day.  We headed to the wildlife loop.  John was ready for another hike.  We stopped at the overlook up by Mt. Coolidge and checked out the nature trail there.  Then we headed towards the prairie dog town where we saw herds of buffalo.  John took off on his hike on the Big Tree Robbers Roost Trail.  I slowly made my way over to Oak Draw Road to meet him.
While I was waiting, I saw a couple that had been fishing.  They had about 8 trout they caught.  When John finished his hike, it ended up to be about 8 miles.  We continued on the Wildlife Loop and stopped at the Wildlife Visitors Center.
After that along the loop we saw 2 pronghorn antelope that was watching something.  We got out of red and they didn’t even look at us.  I followed their stare and saw what they were watching.  A coyote was in the field.  Once the coyote moved away, the antelope felt better and relaxed.  After our wildlife drive we headed home, had dinner and watched a movie. 

Animal List – herds of buffalo, pronghorn antelope, coyote, western tanagers, prairie dogs, white tailed deer, and trout.
 4   We were out of the cow by 645am this morning and headed for Crazy Horse Memorial.  Today is the annual Volksmarch up Crazy Horse which is the largest mountain carving in progress.  It’s the only day of the year you’re allowed to hike up to the nine story face and on to the arm.  About 15,000 people participate each year.
Normally it’s 25.00 per person to get into the memorial and visit the museum.  In addition, you can take a van up to the arm but that’s an additional 125.00 per person.  Today on Volksmarch day, the admission is 3 cans of food and 3.00 per person.  The only way up is a 10k or 6.2 mile hike from the visitor’s center.  Including the trek from the parking area and back it’s close to 7 miles.  For me that’s “No Way”!  But I’m trying it.
Our friends Denny and Lisa and their friend Mike are also doing it.  We got all registered and started our trek at 8am.  It’s a perfect day for it.  We all made it up there.  It was so cool to be able to do this.  It took us a little over 4 hours round trip.  When you’re up there, it’s just so massive.  All four heads from Mt. Rushmore and more could fit into just the arm area of Crazy Horse.  We had a great time.  It was the longest hike with elevation I’ve ever done.  But I’m glad I did it.  Afterwards we were all ready for lunch and a cold beer.  We headed to the Mangy Moose Saloon in Hill City.  We all headed home to kick back and relax.

Animal List – buffalo.
 3   This morning sitting outside we had to be careful.  During the night our buffalo friend left us some dung presents.  We took a nice hike along the Creek Side trail and on the lower end of the Lovers Leap trail.  We took a time out in the afternoon and hung around the cow and did some reading.       
Animal List – great blue heron.

We’re happy to say this morning is sunny and much warmer.  We woke up to a buffalo right outside our cow.  John needed a hike and I wanted to work on the internet and our website and journal.  I headed to the game lodge to use their internet and John took the 2 mile creek side trail to the visitor’s center and then he hiked the Lovers Leap trail.  This is a 3.7 mile loop that crosses the creek 10 times.  Luckily, there were some boards that he was able to use to cross.  He continued on and met me at the game lodge.
When we got back to the cow, there was a huge bull buffalo in the next campsite next to ours.  While we ate lunch, we watched him out our dining room window.  He wasn’t going anywhere.  After lunch, we set out to explore a new area.
We drove up Iron Horse Rd towards Keystone.  Along the way we saw more Pronghorn Antelope, White Tailed Deer and Turkeys.  The scenery is just beautiful.  Along the route, there are 3 tunnels.  When you drive through all three, you can see Mt. Rushmore through the tunnels.  We stopped at a few overlooks to take in the scenery and more views of Mt. Rushmore.  We stopped in Keystone but it’s basically a few tourist shops.
So we headed back to Custer and stopped at the Dark Horse Saloon for a couple beers.  We met Clancy and a few other bartenders and had a good time.  When we got back to our cow, once again the bull buffalo was still around.  We sat on the picnic table and just watched him for a while.

Animal List – Pronghorn Antelope, geese family, dozens of white tailed deer, dozens buffalo, turkeys.
1   Another bright and sunny morning.  It’s still cold, but it’s getting warmer daily.  We headed back over to Legion Lake to do the Legion Lake Trail.  We stopped at the lake parking lot.  There were 3 bull buffalos grazing right in the parking area.  We got a couple photos and watched them for a while then headed over to the trailhead.  This is 1.5 miles with about 500 feet elevation change.  The thing is, that doesn’t mean it goes up then down.  It means it can go up and down and up and down, but no more than 500 feet at a time.  We had a good hike, but I was done and John was ready for more.
He headed on the Centennial Trail which runs over 100 miles.  I stopped and watched the mama and daddy geese with their 6 babies.  John hiked over to the Badger Hole where I met him.  Then he continued on another 4 miles.  I don’t know the elevation change but it was big.  He also had to do 3 creek crossings.  I took a scenic drive over to the horse camp area by Blue Bell to meet him.  I stopped a few times to check out the turkeys, buffalos and deer’s along the way.  I made a stop at a picnic area along the French Creek and practiced my harmonica.  It took John 3 ½ hours to go 4 miles. After he got to the horse camp area, we had the picnic lunch we packed then headed back to the cow.
As I was sitting updating this journal, I saw a buffalo right out the back window across the street.  After watching him for a while, it looks like he found his sleeping location for the night.  Pretty soon there were 3 buffalo about 50 feet from our rig.  Then the sleeping guy got up and charged over to the three.  We went outside but kept our distance.  The three were females just grazing.  The guy that charged across the street must be the man of the house because there was another male over here we didn’t see.  The two males didn’t like each other.  The man of the house got his tail up and his head down ready to charge the other guy.  He pushed him over the bridge and kept pushing him away.
We went inside when the three were still grazing and the two males were off across the bridge.  A couple minutes later and right past our window, there was a stampede of the 3 females and the 1 male.  They must have decided it was time to get the hell out of Custer.  They went by our rig so fast and so close.

Animal List – ground hog, white tailed deer, dozens of buffalo, geese with babies, turkeys.