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  • 7/27/07 - Badlands National Park. SD. The other day we drove to Badlands. What a contrast to the Black Hills! The hills are forested with rocky out croppings and small lakes. The Badlands is vast and treeless with an occasional farmhouse and long stretches of prairie. This day it was hot. We stopped at the visitors' center and looked at the display, then sat for the movie. What a great job the national parks service does. We then drove through the park and stopped at various places to take pictures. The views were amazing! The eroded earth was layered with many colors of purple, gold, tan, and gray. I guess I was not paying attention because we were pulled over for going too fast in the park. 55 in a 45. Luckily I just got a warning and we were soon on our way again. In my defense the roads are straight and long and there isn't much traffic. I recommend coming out to the black hills and the badlands if you get a chance. It is a beautiful area with so much to do and see. It is one of the truly amazing places we have been on the trip. Also we would like to report that the Gnome had recovered and felt well enough to have his bandages removed! He is happy to see again and has promised to be more careful.

  • Yesterday on our trip out of the Black Hills, we stopped at the Crazy Horse monument to see its progress. There is only the face now but there will be the bust of the Indian chief Crazy Horse riding a horse and pointing to distant lands. It is all being carved out of the side of a mountain and will be many times larger than Rushmore. The artist that started it, started by himself about fifty years ago and died in 1981, but his wife and most of their ten children still work at the site! Ten kids, I guess he needed something to do when he wasn't carving a mountain or he wanted to create a work force!! From here we drove to the town of Hot Springs where they have a very large Mammoth dig site. We entered, took the tour and spent some time watching the volunteers excavate some of the bones. It was very interesting and fascinating to see all the skeletal remains that are there. Steph immediately wanted to find out about volunteering to dig. Maybe some day in the future she will get the chance. After we headed into Nebraska where we saw nothing of interest and I have nothing to report on! Jay

  • 7/24/07 - Black Hills, S. Dakota. I can see why time is distorted for us. We have done so much today that I can barely remember this morning! We started the day with a trail ride, not far from Hill City.  Going on a horseback ride was a very fun and different thing to do. It was nice to see Steph smiling from ear to ear. The ride was and hour and a half over and through the hills and meadows to a breathtaking view! We both had great horses, although mine was very interested in eating every clump of grass that came within reach. After only and short amount of time I can see why cowboys are bow legged! After the fantastic equine experience we headed into town to have lunch. After refueling at the Bumping Buffulo and window-shopping we drove off to see Custer State Park. The drive started by going through the Needles, which are very large rock spires. The road twisted and turned through them. We took lots of cool pictures of the needles and the man made tunnels that we drove through. After coming down the other side of the hills we continued to the wild life loop that we were told about. We snaked our way around and were able to see deer, pronghorn, bison, prairie dogs and wild mules. All were very close to the road and exciting to see (usually along with the five or six other cars that had pulled over). From there we continued back towards camp by way of mount Rushmore, and along the way passed through more tunnels and vistas with the presidents faces in view! After making a quick detour into town for some beer to cap the night off, we settled down to reflect on one of the truly exciting and remarkable days that we have had. Now I think my cot is calling and I don't want to miss this call!! Jay

  • 7/23/07--Mount Rushmore.  So on a tip from our last campsite we went to Mount Rushmore this evening for the lighting ceremony.  We were told it was very patriotic. And that everyone that went was very impressed.   So off we went.  We tried to get there early enough to see some of the museum and get good seats.  We had a great time just walking down the road of state flags.  It took us a minute to notice that they were in alphabetical order.  Duh.  The museum and short film was good for understanding of what feat this really is., but it also made sure that we had to rush to get seats.  The presentation was great.  The movie they showed very informative.  The lighting was dramatic.  Then the lowering of the flag.  They asked past vets to come up and be recognized.  It was very moving.  So if you ever go to Rushmore.  I agree, go to the lighting ceremony.  It is worth it.-- Steph

  • 7/22/07 - The Biggest Ball of Twine!!!! We made it.  It was all that I hoped for and more.  We drove into this little town.  The main street had a general store, a bar, and a saloon.  Then there was the biggest ball of twine.  It even had a museum attached.  I know you are thinking, "How can this be so exciting?"  Well one man, Francis Johnson, spent many years, 29 to be exact, just winding up his extra bits of twine.  It became a bit of a hobby.  The museum details how the ball would grow and how he turned the ball on his own.  There was even a story and a group of pictures about how they moved the ball, this 11 foot high- 11 ft 9in wide ball, to its current resting space.  You would think there wouldn't be enough information on the ball of twine to fill the museum.  You are right.  The museum was full of the history of this little town.  The greatest treasure was the caretaker of the museum.  He can tell stories about the town and the ball of twine.  We got to know him a little when we explained that we were on walk about.  It was great fun.  I bought a postcard to send back to the office.  I found out that he made them himself.  How fun is that?!?!  Then he asked, would you like to touch the ball of twine?  I can let you in so you can get better pictures.  Would I!?!  So it just goes to show that a smile and a little interest can get you where you want to go.  For me that day I got to meet a great man and touch a great accomplishment.  With a big cheesy grin and I got to touch it!!! - Steph

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Stephanie and Jason

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July 2007

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