Black Hills,
South Dakota

This year, Scott and I decided we wanted to start doing trips and outings that were not tied to one of our organizations that we belong to.

As Memorial Day approached, I realized that we had a great opportunity to do just that. I really didn't want to just sit around home for 3 days, and we have so much to do, but, well, we've worked so hard on the house, we just needed time away.

I've always enjoyed camping, and so this year, we decided we'd try it and see if we really would like it. We decided to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The week prior to the weekend, I had to be in Columbia, Maryland. I got in to Omaha at about 1 p.m., and Scott picked me up... by 4, we were on the road.

We passed through Sioux Falls just minutes ahead of a tornado (we saw it... just didn't recognize it for what it was!) Spent the night in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Saturday morning, we eagerly headed west. We drove, a bit too quickly, through Badlands National Park as we were in a hurry to get to the Black Hills. We hadn't made reservations for a camp ground, and I feared we'd not be able to find a good one. As it turned out, my fears were unfounded.

We found a great little place called "Battle Creek Campground" just outside of Keystone, SD. The first night there, we decided to try one of the trailers they had for rent.

We spent a pleasant evening wandering the street of Keystone, looking in all the shops, then enjoyed a nice dinner.

Back at the trailer, we played Gin Rummy for a while, then a little poker, then headed for bed. It was an enjoyable evening!

The next morning, we drove up to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, then to the Crazy Horse Memorial.

When we left Omaha, we'd planned for "Omaha-like" weather. We were unprepared for the biting mountain wind that we encountered as we wandered through the grounds at Mt. Rushmore!

But, Rushmore is an imposing sight, and it took our minds off the chill somewhat, as we gazed up on the faces of the 4 presidents who's heritage so profoundly shaped the United States.

The visitor center there has nicely preserved much of the memorabilia of those who strove to forge the mountain to their artistry. As powerful legacies as the 4 presidents enshrined at Rushmore have left, it was humbling to see the work involved in memorializing them.

After Rushmore, we drove up to Crazy Horse. Now THIS memorial is truly awesome. Once completed, it will dwarf Mt. Rushmore. And unlike Rushmore, it will have been completed solely through private donations.

I don't know if Crazy Horse would have appreciated this effort, the carving away of a mountain, to honor him. But, then, I don't think I have a right to even consider that. In a way, I suspect, the memorial is not so much to the man Crazy Horse, as it is to the people of the plains who lived here for so long, and whose culture has been stolen from them. I think, too, it's a memorial to the determination of a people to retain to whatever degree possible, that culture.

We drove some more through the region, ending up for an hour long tour of Bethlehem Cave.

We arrived back at our campground in the early evening. We'd already picked out a site and pitched our tent. We cooked our first true "camping meal" of ground buffalo meat and veggies, then played cards for a while until the light dimmed too much, then headed off for bed.

And then we froze. Boy! Did the temps drop that night! It got down into the 30's, and we were not at all prepared. About midnight, we moved everything into the van, and started the engines to warm up. We had to start the engine several times that night.

At 5 a.m., we gave up. Pulling the tent down, we threw everything into the van, and hit the road.

We stopped again, this time for a little longer, in the Badlands on the way home.

We're gonna have to do this again... SOON!

We decided we like camping... but we need to learn to prepare ourselves better.