So, I last left you in the Badlands. From there on Sunday Sept the 18th, we made the short trip to Rapid City, SD. The GPS oddly took us through a residential neighborhood with terrifying grades, but we made it to the Rapid City RV Park off Hwy 16 on the hill south of town. The sites were pretty close together and all gravel and there was a fair amount of road noise, but the view from the hill was nice and it was conveniently located just outside of town, but on the side of town leading into the Black Hills. We really enjoyed downtown Rapid City. Several nice brewpubs and lots of dining options, neat stores. It seemed like a pretty vibrant community.
Firehouse Brewing in Rapid City. Not the best beer, but good food and a neat building
On Monday we went into the black hills and rode the 1880 Train out of Keystone. What a neat ride! Definitely on the short list of my favorite tourist trains! Crayton was in heaven. A real steamie and beautiful countryside. Too many tourist trains like this have uninspiring scenery, but this was breathtaking. ChooChooBob did us well be raving about it during his visit. The rest of the day was spent driving around the south-end of the Black Hills. We drove the Needles Highway with its pigtail curves and tunnels (all sorts of not fun in a long-bed crew-cab F350 dually!) and visited Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore before calling it a day and heading back to town.
A Fantastic Ride on the 1880 Train in The Black Hills
Crazy Horse has come a long way since I last saw it.
Obligatory Mt Rushmore selfie
During the work week, Pam took Crayton to see a lot of sights in town including a petting zoo and wildlife park. After work, we'd see a few sights too, but closer to town including the old Dinosaur park on the hill outside town, built in the 30s as a depression era public works project, the concrete dinosaurs aren't accurate recreations, but sure are a lot of fun. The gift-shop was a gas with some of the oddest dinosaur toys I've ever seen.
Also this week, Miles from Miles Mobile RV Service arrived to fix our leaking bearing seals. The brakes were so fouled with grease that he had to replace the entire assemblies. Took the better part of a day, but we should be set now. I'll be keeping an eye on it and am considering aftermarket disc brakes as a possible upgrade, since replacement often seems not to fix this problem. From what I'm reading this can recur.
Getting new brakes
Crayton found a friend here. Caislyn, a 6yo girl, is the grand-daughter of the park's caretaker and was often staying in the RV next door. She and Crayton were virtually inseparable whenever they were both home. We got their address so Crayton could send her postcards from the road.
Crayton and his new friend Caislyn
The weekend arrived and it was time to explore again. On Saturday we headed out to explore the north end of the Black Hills, taking a scenic drive through the mountains to get to Deadwood. It was as touristy as I remember from being there as a kid. A highlight was finding a model railroad club with a public layout in the basement of a t-shirt shop. It was all we could do to drag Crayton out of there. We also saw a re-enactment of Wild Bill's murder, toured an old gold mine and panned for gold, which I remember doing as a kid myself when I was here 34 years ago.
An Odd place for model trains
Panning for gold. I think we got more yellow road paint than gold, but four flakes of gold are now ours!
Sunday arrived and it was time to move on. This time for a quick one-night stay at Devils Tower. We arrived early enough to walk around the base of it. Amidst jokes about the end of the trail being 'just around the corner', we enjoyed a beautiful day and this amazing geologic oddity. Crayton loved hearing that it was the heart of an ancient volcano. That night, at the campground they showed "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" on a screen behind which you could see the tower. Pretty cool. Pam had never seen the movie and enjoyed it.
Great view from the Devils Tower KOA
On Monday we headed off again to Cody Wyoming. The drive there over the Bighorn Mountains was spectacular and led to our highest elevation so far this trip (9666 feet) and our first snow of the trip! We had to stop and let Crayton play and enjoy the day. We pulled into Cody after a long day and set up at the Absaroka Bay RV Park. It was clean and nice enough, but nothing special. We were only here for a few days while I worked before heading on to Yellowstone. That said, even in the off-season, Cody has a lot of things to see and do. The Old Trail Town was great and they even had a Sierra Trading Post outlet where we all got new shoes. Finally, it was time to move on to Yellowstone!