7th & 8th day

28 miles, 19mpg, $0 gas, $24 camping ($12 x 2 nights)

Spent the last two nights in Wind Cave National Park. Left Angostura Rec Area very early and checked into Wind Cave (Elk Mountain Campground) via Hot Springs, SD by 9:30am! Hazy, sometimes misty day – and cool. Found a nice site on a hill in loop C. A little challenging leveling the trailer on the slope, but thanks to the parking brake, and the ability of the tongue jack to periscope in two sections, we did it. Great views out all three windows, campground smells like a spring-scented bathroom freshener, quiet as can be – and all for $12/night.

Only problem? No electric hook-up. So the generator came out for the first time this trip. It had fallen on it’s side for a few minutes a few days earlier, so it was rough to start. In a 1/2 or so, it evened out. Love my Honda e1000i generator…

After we set up, we headed back to Hot Springs with our laundry to find internet, a car wash, and a visit to a friend’s former home. Hot Springs is a very quirky town. Old West architecture, ranchers in 10 gallon hats, toothless men in overalls, mixed with a the occasional vintage shop you might find in Portland, OR. The local native American radio station (KILO 90.1) alternates English and the Lakotan Indian (sic?) language. Where else can you hear tribal chanting and drums on an FM station usually reserved for NPR’s “All things considered”?

Washed the car next door while the laundry dried, then headed to the Public Library to catch up on e-mail, upload photos from my good camera, and do some Curtis work requiring a real laptop (not my iPhone).

2 hours of that, and we headed to an incongruous Chinese Buffet, then back to the camp-site after shopping at Lynn’s Dakotastop. Good luck finding unexpired yoghurt, but we did find gargantuan marshmallows for the
campfire later.

Picked up some campground firewood at the entrance and had our first campfire of the trip. Drizzled on and off. Generator off at 8pm, the on battery from then until 8am. 12V fridge sucking power plus my CPAP turned out to be too much for the CPAP. It conked out at midnight, and I snored my way to daybreak. A very foggy, drizzly daybreak.

Since the weather above ground wasn’t great, we took the Wind Cave tour, since our park is two parks in one. Great tour. Very unusual rock formations.

Then risked a trip to Rushmore knowing we might not be able to see it on the fog. Took the fabulous Needles highway – “eye of the needle” rock formations in the fog. Then, just as we approached Mt. Rushmore, the clouds parted. We listened to the “North by Northwest” soundtrack the whole way in. The pictures speak for themselves. I remember being underwhelmed when I saw this in 2004. It feels like a giant airport parking lot with a monument in the distance. This time, it really moved me, and we walked the big stair-filled path under our founding fathers’ noses.

Headed out via “iron mountain” with its pigtail loopy bridges and dynamited tunnels with views of Mt. Rushmore. Parked in a lookout, we were delighted that our Delaware license plate completed someone’s road bingo.

Headed back to the campsite in glorious weather, and the park looked like a new park. Gorgeous. Made French toast and ate on the picnic table. Starry moon-filled night. CPAP worked all night(w/some coaxing), but Glenn’s getting my cold.

Overall, an amazing two days. Finally staying in a National park!20110714-112537.jpg20110714-112720.jpg20110714-112729.jpg

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