This post is all about the adventures and fun we had when 3 of our grandchildren came to visit us. Blake (15), Garrett (13) and Paige (10) flew from California to Rapid City, South Dakota to camp with us for 2 weeks. We spent the first action-packed week in the beautiful 71,000 acre Custer State Park. Our campsite at Legion Lake was the perfect central location for our daily excursions.
Custer is home to a herd of 1500 free roaming bison. We drove the Wildlife Loop and saw herds of bison, as well as deer, elk, feral burros, and prairie dogs.
One morning Garrett stepped outside and found a bison grazing right next to our motorhome!
Our good friends, Mark and Darlene, were here for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Rally attracts over 500,000 bikers each year! It is a week-long event and has a reputation for being quite the party. Mark and Darlene and some of their friends rode their motorcycles from Sturgis to Custer for a day of sight-seeing and stopped by to visit us. The kids had fun posing for pictures on Mark’s motorcycle. And we had fun seeing our friends again, after meeting them in Sturgis for lunch at the Loud American and drinks in The Dungeon before the kids arrived.
We wanted the kids to have bragging rights to say that they had been to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but we were a little nervous about what they would be seeing. After visiting Mark and Darlene in Sturgis before the grandkids arrived, we felt pretty comfortable that they wouldn’t be scarred for life. It’s more like a really noisy costume party.
About 20 miles from Sturgis is the old west town of Deadwood. In 1874, the discovery of gold triggered the Black Hills Gold Rush and gave rise to the lawless town of Deadwood with a reputation for gambling and prostitution.
Of course, a visit to Mt. Rushmore was mandatory! I won’t post any of the gazillion pictures we took of those 4 famous faces because you already know what it looks like. What you may not have seen is the Rushmore Tramway Chairlift, which we took to the top for lunch at a rustic outdoor cafe. I rode the Chairlift down, while Mike and all the kids chose to take the Alpine Slide. I took pictures from my aerial post as they zoomed down the hill below me, each in a little sled on a double track.
Then, to really get the adrenalin pumping, the kids harnessed up for a zipline through the fresh mountain air. Mike and I attempted to photograph them with our zoom lens, which actually loses the perspective of how high up they were. In any case, they sure loved it!
We attended the Grand Magic Show in Custer one evening, and attended a play in the small Black Hills Theatre the next evening. It was a comedic version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and had us all laughing out loud. We let Blake select our hike the next day from a brochure describing all of our options. He chose a “Difficult” rated hike near Sylvan Lake which lived up to its rating! While we were all dying, Blake kept saying “I love this! I love hiking!”
So the next day, we did another hike. Mike and I had hiked to the top of Harney Peak before the kids had arrived. At 7242 feet, it is the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe. Blake wanted to do it. We all set out for a long day of hiking, but 3/4 of the way up, the thunder and lightening and rain started. We all voted to turn around without going all the way to the top. The rain didn’t last long, so the hike was still wonderful and the views fabulous.
Another excursion we enjoyed was touring the Jewel Cave National Monument which has the 3rd longest cave in the world. The weather has been so warm, that I had to convince the kids to take sweatshirts on this tour. The cave temperature is 49 degrees and the tour lasted 1 1/2 hours!
Our campsite at Legion Lake was a great location and central for our excursions and scenic drives.
We departed South Dakota and headed to Sandy Beach Campground at Guerney State Park near Cheyenne, Wyoming. We had a large campsite on a lake, but the ground was covered in big stickers and red ant hills! And the ‘sandy beach’ was a muddy marsh. Unfortunately, I had prepaid for 5 days (nonrefundable), but we left after only 1 night. We made the most of our one night, and the kids had a wood chopping contest for our campfire. Then we went inside, made popcorn and watched movies!
We were fortunate to get a prime spot in Golden, Colorado on Clear Creek. Clear Creek is great for whitewater tubing. Several years ago, the city of Golden rearranged the rocks and boulders on the stream bed to make chutes for tubing and kayaking. It has fast eddies, surf waves, and wave drops. We bought a couple of cheap floaty tubes for the kids to use. The water level is low so the rapids were fairly easy, but still, most of the people on the creek were in great big tubes with mesh centers. The kids loved it anyway and had a blast.
We spent an afternoon at the water park in Golden. And enjoyed a concert in the park in the evening. Golden is a really cute little town and seems very family oriented. We loved our 4 days there.
The final day before returning to California, we moved over to Cherry Creek State Park. Cherry Creek is a reservoir for boating and water sports, with a roped-off swim area. The kids spent hours playing in the lake which guaranteed a good night’s sleep!
I left Mike and Lucy for a week, while I flew to California with the kids. I was able to see my orthopedic surgeon to validate that my shoulder is healing properly. It was fun to spend a week with my daughter and go for facials, hair appts, shopping, sports for the kids, etc. The week flew by too quickly.
Now I’m back in the Bear with my honey and making plans for our next month of destinations. We’ve connected with some of our friends, but I’ll post about that next time. This posting is long enough now! Cheers!