Monday, May 15, 2006
Left about 9am. Destination Summit Lake State Recreation Area near Tekamah, NE. Took I-29 through Iowa then Omaha, NE. Mostly farm land. Corn. Saw a corn ethanol making plant. Summit Lake is a large spring fed lake. Access was via a mile long washboard road. Lots of ducks, geese and other water birds. We were the only campers there. It was a beautiful place. Ate lunch and walked around. Gopher played in the very tall grass. She would crouch down then charge out like she was a lion. About 2:30 we decided to checkout the City RV park in Tekamah. It was part of a very nice park. Ball fields, playgrounds and such. Continued our drive north to Decatur, NE. Decatur has a beautiful City campground on the banks of the Missouri River. Very well maintained. Beautiful river view. Once again, it was just us. The park gets a lot of use from the residents for walking. The sun came out today. One of the few mostly sunny days we have had on the trip so far. The weather forecast is for warm & sunny the rest of this week.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Set out for Yankton, SD about 8am. This is a beautiful part of Nebraska. Rolling hills, corn fields & cattle ranches. The grass is a green as can be making for a striking contrast with the newly plowed fields. Got gas in Winnebago, NE, at an Omaha Indian reservation gas station. About 10 cents less than non-reservation stations. $131.41 for a 48.689 gallon fill up. Ouch!! So far, the cost of gas exceeds all other costs combined. We both agree it beats sitting at home every day. Went shopping in Yankton. Around here, the HyVee grocery stores are the best. A combination of a good Publix and a Whole Foods. Then to Wal-Mart for the other things we needed. Yankton is the only major city we will be around for several days so we stocked up. Camped at the COE campground, Cottonwood. A beautiful campground right on Lake Yankton which ,during the Lewis & Clark expedition, was the main river channel. Drove across the top of the Gavins Point Dam to visit the wonderful COE visitors’ center. Picked up a bunch of really informative literature. Met some other Florida people in the campground. They live in a small town in the Panhandle; don’t recall the name.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Up early. Used my new percolator coffee pot instead of instant coffee. Johnnie’s idea. Makes very good coffee. Clear & cool. Our destination today is the Snake Creek Recreation area near Wagner, SD. Got gas at a reservation station run by the Yankton Sioux tribe. $2.69/gallon compared to $2.81. They had a few RV spaces with electricity by the casino. Stopped at the Fort Randall Military Post near Pickstown, SD. Spent about an hour exploring the remains of the fort. The fort was established on June 26, 1856 to protect settlers and emigrants from the Sioux Indians. Fort Randall was just one of dozens of forts built in the new west territories. Continued on to Snake Creek. Our campsite backs to the Missouri river. The water is very clear now. Perhaps 2’ visibility as opposed to the very muddy waters to the south. The “Mighty Missouri/Big Muddy” is the longest river in North America. It starts in Montana and joins the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, MO. Gopher took a good swim today. Should have been a lab. Today was the warmest day so far. The suns finally shining. Probably about 80* today with a very strong wind. This is prime tornado country. There is a sign on the bath house designating it as a shelter. The park staff will drive around and tell everyone if severe weather alerts or tornado warnings are issued. Tomorrow we continue north & west towards the Badlands National Park just south of Wall, SD. Had another very nice day. Carol retired two weeks ago today.
Thursday, May 19, 2006
Set out for the Badlands National Park National Park. Saw a pheasant along the road. More farms & ranches. Rolling hills all through southern South Dakota. Very pretty. On the way to the campground, we visited the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. It was a deactivated Minuteman II silo and control complex from the days of the Cold War. This site was deactivated as the result of the START treaty signed by Presidents Bush & Gorbachev in 1991. There are still 500 such sites that are still deployed, a reminder that peace still evades us. Camped in the Cedar Pass Campground in The Badlands National Park. $5/night. No utilities. By evening it was about half filled. The Badlands were described by conservation writer Freeman Tilden as “peaks & valleys of delicately banded colors-colors that shift in the sunshine…and a thousand tints that color charts do not show. In the early morning and evening, when the shadows are cast upon the infinite peaks or on a bright moon lit night when the whole region seems a part of another world, the Badlands will be an experience not easily forgotten”. It reminds us of the Grand Canyon in some ways with all the different bands of color in the cliffs & valleys. Very desolate place. When we walked the dogs we had to watch for cactus and prairie rattlers. Both the Lakota Indians and early explorers avoided the area. It was hot today; in the 90’s. Toured the new visitors center.
Friday, May 20, 2006
Got up at 6am. The plan was to drive the Badlands Loop Road as early as possible. Stopped at the scenic overlooks. Saw several bighorn sheep and a prairie dog town. One of the walks has several fossil exhibits. Very interesting. Continued to our destination for the day; Custer State Park south of Rapid City, SD. Along the way we stopped at the famous Wall Drugs in Wall, SD. Mom & Dad were there during their travels years ago. Went grocery shopping at Wal-Mart then on to Custer SP. Got lucky. This weekend is the Open House Weekend. Free admission, lots of interesting events scheduled. There were two buffalo wandering around the campground area. This is the first time we recall seeing wild buffalo. There is a heard of buffalo here in the 1,500 range. Each year the herd is thinned to 1,000 because that’s all the area can support during the harsh winter months. Our campsite is right on a small mountain stream. Gopher had a grand time splashing in the water. The weather is nicer here; in the mid-70’s.
Saturday, May 21, 2006
At 8:00 we walked to the Visitor Center to join in a guided hike in the French Creek Wilderness Area. Conducted by a very knowledgeable young woman. Learned the names of lots of birds, plants & flowers. Saw deer but no more buffalo. Later that day we drove to the Sylvan Lake area and camped there. Ed & Gopher took a beautiful hike around Sylvan Lake. Beautiful, clear, cold water. As always, Gopher went swimming. That evening it rained. Thunder at times.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Up at 6am. Still not used to this time zone. We all walked around Sylvan Lake then drove past the Crazy Horse monument on the way to Mount Rushmore. Mt. Rushmore was impressive but very commercialized. Ice cream store, restaurant, gift shops, etc. Not quite what we had envisioned. Went to Rapid City to do laundry. The first laundry stop since we dis was at Johnnies house.