I will not describe the monuments, they have been photographed and used in so many media that they are totally familiar to all. We stayed in a very nice camp ground in Hill City, very close to the center of monument area, it is Crooked Creek CG and we would certainly stay there again, if we return to the area. While we were there a collectors car club was gathering for a weekend rally and there were plenty of cars from the 20’s 30’s and more recent already encamped as we were there. I would suggest that if you have not been to the area it is well worth the trip. We took a 22 mile loop road, in the car, that twists and turns and goes through several tunnels, two of which afford splendid views of the Mt Rushmore framed in the tunnel opening. Along the way we passed Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park and decided it would be a great place for paddle number two in our boat. We returned with the boat and had a fine time on this tiny gem of a lake with rock ribs protruding from it and gentle shores all around.
Our one dinner out in the area – at Ruby’s in Keystone can best be described as Iceberg Lettuce and bland coffee. It wasn’t bad, just not good. On the other hand, our lunch in the restaurant at the Crazy Horse Monument was delightful and inexpensive. Also the Board of Directors, including Korcak’s wife, Ruth, were at the next table. We spent 4 or more hours there and could have stayed longer.
The next day, Friday, I think, found us on the road toward Madison WI, some 750 miles to the east. First we had to drive through the SD Badlands. All the guidebooks take this route east to west, but were going the other way. In retrospect, the approach from the east would be far more impressive. You would have driven 400 miles of straight flat highway and then encountered this 1,000 foot wall that forms the first impression the pioneers had of this area. We had that view in our mirrors as we descended onto the plain. Ah, but first as we entered the Badlands from the west we had to stop in Wall, SD at Wall Drug where we were able to actually purchase some drugstore items we were in the market for. Of course you could buy almost anything else there too. This is another not to be missed ONE TIME stop.
We drove east across SD the rest of the day and still did not make it to Minnesota. We stopped in Mitchell, SD at Rondee Campground which had the benefit of being Passport America (50% off) and being located just off I 90 and on the edge of town. In Mitchell one must visit the Corn Palace. It has had its exterior redone in corn, rye and other material since 1892. Of course the current building is the third one, but it dates back to 1913. Once we saw it there was nothing left to do but hit the road, and we did. Crossing the rest of South Dakota and all of Minnestoa took up the rest of the day. As we approached the Mississippi River, I started looking for a place to spend the night. The Exit Source (a book that lists every business within ¼ of a mile of every Interstate exit) said there was camping at exit 2 in La Crosse, WI. We got off and took the indicated turn and found ourselves on an industrial road with no indication of camping availability. As we proceeded to the end we had the La Crosse airport on our left and at the end there was a large paved area that had the look of extended disuse. It was perfect for an overnight dry camp. As we settled in our seats to contemplate it, I noticed the Airport Police and Fire Office with one car in the parking lot. It occurred to me that they might have an interest in anyone wanting to park where we were. I walked over and rang the bell and was admitted. The officer who greeted me was clearly nonplussed at my request. And had to think about how to respond, this resulted in the natural easy response for any security officer, NO! We moved on and two miles later we pulled off for a Wal Mart/Sam’s Club parking lot. The Wally was abandoned, clearly replaced by a Super Wally someplace, but the Sam’s Club was in business and all ready inhabited by motorhome set up to spend the night. We joined them. In the morning we were up by 7 and we walked through the parking lot to a Panera Bread store that had just opened and had breakfast there while Carol got her Mac online using their free WiFi. We returned to Gee 2 by way of a Farmers Market that had just opened in the parking lot and bought some fresh vegetables that we didn’t need, but looked too good to leave there. We then set course for Madison, WI and cousin Mimi whose home we have never seen. We arrived at Mendota Park and Campground by noon, slightly frazzled by a dispute between Hal and the TrailerLife Campground Guide, at polite way of saying we got lost. I Stopped and Asked for Directions with no coaching from Carol!!
By 2 PM we were showered and had lunch prepared for Mimi and her friend Kate. Both of Mimi’s homes are in a state of turmoil as she is finishing preparing one to move into the other is being taken apart for moving out of. Kate’s home is also in a state of remodeling so Gee 2 became the venue. Since we were situated on a lake (hard not to be in Madison) they brought a long a kayak and we got the new boat out and had out third outing on it. This is a bigger lake with power boats and waves and the PaddleSki responded well enough and was not excessively disturbed by the waves. For those interested in campgrounds this one would be an all ‘round 10 if had had water and sewer on site. As it is it is mostly 30 amp electric and the water and sewer are on premises but not at the sites. There are shaded sites and sunny sites and there is ready access to the lake and Madison is just around a bend in the lake. Gravel pads and nice grass for the camping areas made it very comfortable. Reservations must be made 10 days ahead and do call during “ normal business hours,” there is no on site staff and registration is DIY. There was a very nice host present when we were there. We greatly enjoyed our visit with Mimi and Kate and concluded it with a fine meal at Edo’s and very nice Japanese restaurant where Carol and I were delighted to be Mimi’s guest.
After a too brief night’s sleep we got our act together and were rolling by 8:28. We are still rolling as I write this at 4:15. We expect to arrive in Cedarville CG by about 6:30 to hook up with Norm and Shelley Topf who we first met in Perry, GA and most recently spent a week with in Minot.