Closing the ring

Since the decision was made to head back for our grandson’s birthday we decided to take a northerly route and pass through South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore, Roxie’s main point of interest on this trip. When we have a deadline and/or destination we tend to travel a bit farther each day and try to find ‘cheaper’ places (read free) to stay.

As we crossed over the Mackinac bridge we stopped a bit further down for a picture:

Yes, the weather was dreary and it got worse. During our drive to a Passport America campground, we encountered the worst rain ever while towing. My wipers could not keep up so we slowed down and after about 100 miles we got out of the rain.

The next day we went through Escanaba MI, where the WBCCI had just had the international rally here about a week ago. We stopped a Walmart for supplies:

We breezed through Wisconsin and Minnesota with a couple of Walmart overnights in each state. We found a very nice place for lunch in MN just before the South Dakota border (Lake Benton) and then entered South Dakota:

We did another Passport America stop in Mitchell SD and the R&R Campground (how appropriate!). We got in relatively early that day so we went out to eat and after eating we visited the Corn Palace! I have been to the Cow Palace in SF before but although this is a venue also that is where the similarities ended. It is an homage to corn and it is decorated with corn (the Cow Palace is NOT decorated with Cows):

After Mitchell, we ended up in Rapid City SD for an evening at Cabelas. Our reservations at the Rafter J-Bar campground in Hill City, SD weren’t for another day. It was our first time at Cabelas and won’t be the last. But before we got to Rapid City was Wall SD and Wall Drug! I remember bits of Wall Drug growing up but Roxie had never been there so we stopped for a bit:

See all the motorcycles? Yes, our trip of bad timing bit us again. We were here during Sturgis! Luckily we weren’t staying in Sturgis but it still has an impact.

When we got to our campsite, where we would be for 5 nights, we immediately headed to Mt. Rushmore since it was on Roxie’s birthday:

We found a place to eat in Keystone where they surprised Roxie with a dessert:

The next day we went to see the Crazy Horse monument. It was much different than Rushmore in many ways. Privately funded instead of government, still in process instead of completed, and a totally different personage they each honor. I was glad we went as their museum and content is more informative and we also had a good tour guide. We were able to come back within 7 days if we wanted:

We continued down to Custer State Park to find some wildlife and we did. Buffalo, antelope, and burros. The burros were obviously more friendly:

We also got a drive-by shot of George:

The next day we took a drive to Deadwood, which was overrun with bikers. We also drove through Sturgis but I didn’t get any photos because I was trying to not hit any pedestrians or bikers. This was the second to last day and it seemed extremely busy! Here is Deadwood:

The next day was a drive through the Needles portion of the Black Hills. This was a road that was carved out of the rocks, literally. We did NOT take the trailer and you will see why when you see the pics. It was a slow road, made slower with the bikers all over. We took our lunch and were able to eat at a very nice lake in the hills also:

That evening we went back to the Crazy Horse monument to see their light show. It was a combination of illuminating lights and a laser show projected on the mountain. It was very entertaining but hard to capture with an iPhone (contrary to what Apple claims).

Our last day was a trip to the Badlands. It is quite a way to get there so it required a full day. We again saw quite a large amount of wildlife. Especially at the end with a coyote walking through a prairie dog town (see the Youtube link below):

We topped off the night with evening lighting ceremony at Mt Rushmore. It was a ranger led program in their amphitheater with a film preceding it.

The title of this post talks about a ring. See the Google Map below that shows the locations that we have stayed on our trip. I also have a representation of our state map from the trailer:

Just a few more states to create the ring. Stay tuned..

Moving UP in the country!

It is still humid and somewhat hot so we are going to head north. Due north of us is Michigan so off we go, avoiding large towns.

The first night was between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids at an RV resort that took Passport America but was still $30! However considering the next two nights turned out to be at Walmart’s it gave us a chance to fill up with fresh water and dump.

We weren’t sure where we were going to end up in the ‘mitten’ of Michigan. It seems that every weekend ALL the state parks are full with campers, a lot of them from Michigan! We stopped in Ludington at a great Walmart that gave us a very nice view from our door (sans the Walmart truck):

We continued on north. We encountered a Michigan rest stop that had a very nice little path between the truck/RV parking and the restrooms:

We spent the next Walmart night in Traverse City. I was looking for this specifically so I could get my trailer tires rotated at the Discount Tire there. That was a fiasco. I had such a great experience in Dayton with the truck but such a poor experience at this one. I will be writing corporate and I will post the experience here. While at Walmart we looked for a spot in the local state park (Traverse City State Park). We found one for the next day and 4 nights! So that is where we went the next day but we could not get in until 3 pm so we went to a movie.

The park is decent. Very well used but they kept it pretty clean. We had electric hookups but no water or sewer. We had to conserve, I used the showers whenever I could. With 3 days there we were able to look around at some of the local sights. We went to the Sleeping Bear National Shoreline one day. There was a scenic drive that let you view from the top of a huge sand dune over looking Lake Michigan:

You can see there are people at the bottom of the dune. There are recommendations that you should not go down the dunes as it is a long haul back up and you would be responsible for any rescue costs.

We continued our drive around, had lunch in a small town where we could watch kayaker’s going down a river. We also toured an old Coast Guard rescue station and learned how they would shoot lines to ships in the water.

 

Our 37th wedding anniversary was celebrated while in Traverse City. What did we do? I got my teeth cleaned at a local dentist and Roxie did our laundry. What a nice anniversary. Actually after those we went and had a very nice lunch at a restaurant on the water. We even got a free piece of Key Lime Pie! Here is our view from the table and Roxie sitting out by the bay:

We took a drive out the peninsula by Traverse City, saw some expensive houses on the bay(s) and got to stop at a lighthouse:

In discussing where to go next we talked about our only grandson’s 1st birthday coming up on August 31. We determined that we should be there and will start heading back to California for a visit. We had two choices, go south around Chicago or north through the Upper Peninsula (UP). We chose north, and I wanted to drive over the Mackinac bridge. So that is the plan.