Downtime

We are at Offutt AFB outside of Omaha, NE.  It is the holiday weekend and we are taking some downtime.  Nothing has been planned which is a good thing as the rains here have been daily and heavy.  Some places have had over 2.5 inches of rain in just a few hours.

We have managed to catch up with the Base Exchange and Commissary.  Forgot how good some prices could be. Mom and Daisy have done a little site seeing and we will hit a few yard sales on Saturday.  Other than that, nothing is planned.

Since Offutt AFB is not a public park, I will not be reviewing it.  For those of you that have access to military campgrounds, the Air Force has a camper program that for $40 you get a lifetime membership.  It starts off with $100 in free camping (one night out of three per visit).  You also earn more free nights as you camp through out the year.  You also get a patch, couple of pins and a guide to military campgrounds.  Pretty sweet deal.

For the first time ever camping, I think I found some non-friendly campers.  Yesterday we had a short power outage.  After checking fuses, circuit breakers etc., I went to the neighbors to see if they had power.  I knocked a couple of times.  You could hear them inside but they didn’t answer the door.  Later that afternoon, they were outside, I said hi and they didn’t respond either.  I can’t ever remember finding a camper that didn’t want to talk!

Well Saturday (today) is suppose to be sunny and no rain.  Time to cook some breakfast for the ladies and get ready to go hit a couple of  yard sales.

Harts Ranch Review

Harts Ranch is on the outskirts of Rapid CIty, SD.  It is an RPI Park and one of the best places we have visited so far.

All sites are concrete slabs with picnic tables and full hook up.  Some or 30 and some 50 amp.  There are no fire pits and fires are not permitted.

Activities, security and staff make this place.  It has over 400 campsites and is a membership resort.  Many of the spots are seasonal and alot of them are longer term campers (21 days).  They also have a good many cabins.

There are activities every day.  Community campfires are 2 times a week, they have kid hay rides quite often.  They also seem to have nightly activities for the adults.

Security is constant.  The gate is manned 24 hours a day and they have a roving security process as well.  Also related to security is the insistence of keeping vehicles off the grass, including your rig.

The park is clean, well maintained and secure.  They have a nice little convenience store and gas station as well.

If you are going to be in the Rapid City area and sight seeing, this is a great place to hang your hat while you are here.  You are about 30 miles away from all the major attractions.  And the two major access routes are very convenient to the campground.

Time or Internet take their toll

Sorry for the long delay in updating the website.  Either Time or not having a good Internet connection have taken their toll on our access to the Internet.

After a down day on Wednesday, we decided to do the Bad Lands and stop again at Wall Drugs.  Both are free.  Wall drugs is the major attraction to Wall, SD.  It is a city block drug store and historical site.  The history of the place is kind of interesting and shoppers will love it.  It seems that the origin was that a pharmacist after working for others moved to Wall, SD and took over a drug store.  Let’s just say that he might have been a good pharmacist but he didn’t know much about business.  It wasn’t long before he listened to his wife and started giving away ice water to travelers coming and going on the Interstate that ran by Wall.  Soon they came in droves and started buying things as well as taking the free ice water.  Things built from there and today it is a major attraction.

Bad Lands is a totally different story.  It is all natural.  Erosion has taken it toll and you can see millions of years of Earths history.  We took so many pictures it was hard to decide what to post.  But here are some of the ones I think are best.

Bad Lands

Mom and Daisy
Mom and Daisy
Bad Lands 2
Bad Lands 2
Daisy
Daisy
History
History
Bad Lands 3
Bad Lands 3
Bad Lands 4
Bad Lands 4
Sod House
Sod House
Pierre Dog
Pierre Dog
Another one of Mom's Horsey's
Another one of Mom’s Horsey’s

We left Rapid City on Monday and started our return trip to Pennsylvania.  Unlike the trip across South Dakota from Sioux Falls to Rapid City, we kind of took our time heading East.  We stopped in Mitchell, SD for a few days.  Mitchell is the home of the Corn Palace!  That is correct, they have the only corn palace in the world!

This is the mural above the stage.
This is the mural above the stage.
Inside mural.  Every 10 years they redo the inside.
Inside mural. Every 10 years they redo the inside.
Two of the murals.  All made from corn
Two of the murals. All made from corn
Corn Palace...Each year they redo the outside.
Corn Palace…Each year they redo the outside.

 

As you can tell the Corn Palace was not going to take a lot of time, so we also visited an archaeological dig.  The site in Mitchell is an old Indian village.  This is an active dig and was pretty fascinating.  They only have people on site one month a year in Mid June so we missed that.  But the rest of the stuff was pretty interesting.  This dig has been active for many years.

The Dig.  Each level shows different aspects of the Indian live.
The Dig. Each level shows different aspects of the Indian live.
Indian Plains Hut
Indian Plains Hut

We are now in NE at Offutt AFB.  We will be here over the holiday weekend.  This is really just down time to recover and relax a little and after Rapid City, Mitchell and all the driving, I need it.

Daisy and Mom are out driving around at the moment looking for some thrift stores and probably a dollar store or two.  I am relaxing and catching up on the website, my reading and some games.

Next stop is IA for a couple of days then we are back to Eastern Time Zone.  I can tell you that the Time Zone changes have been hard on the puppies and mom.  Kind of interesting how the dogs are affected by the time zone.  Their little minds don’t know anything about time changes.  When it is 5 PM East Coast time it is time for potty and dinner.  Doesn’t matter that we were on Mountain time and it was only 3 PM.  They wanted OUT and then to be feed.

Mom on the other hand, I don’t quite think got the hang of it until we were leaving Rapid City.  Soon we will be back on the East Coast and be able to act normal 🙂

 

 

Tuesday and four more attactions visited

This is our second trip out from the campground to visit some of the attractions in the Rapid City area.  On Tuesday we managed to visit Needles Highway, Mt Rushmore, Black Hills and Chief Crazy Horse.

Let me say that one week here is not enough to see and really enjoy everything.  We started off the day by going back towards Custer State Park to finish up with Needles Highway, which was a fantastic drive.  This trip took us through 3 great stone tunnels, past rock spires, along some pretty narrow roadways and into some of the most beautiful overlooks I have ever seen.  It was literally a different and magnificent view around every corner.

Here is what we saw while eating lunch
Here is what we saw while eating lunch
Beautiful views
Beautiful views
Daisy in front of the tunnel.
Daisy in front of the tunnel.

After leaving Needles Highway we headed to Crazy Horse Monument.  This is a work in progress since 1948. The original artist has passed away and his kids are taking up the challenge.  No date has been set for completion.  They are currently working on the horses head.

Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse
Model of what the completed monument will look like.
Model of what the completed monument will look like.

While at the Crazy Horse exhibit, they had a live demonstration and talk about Indian folklore.

Indian Demonstration and Dance
Indian Demonstration and Dance

Our last stop for the day was Mt Rushmore.  I found that the information was more interesting than then actual monument.   Having visited both Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore on the same day was quite an experience.  Mt. Rushmore is actually quite a bit smaller than Crazy Horse.  All four heads would fit in the headdress of Crazy Horse.  Mt Rushmore only took 14 years to carve and originally only had three heads.  Teddy was added last.

Entering Mt. Rushmore
Entering Mt. Rushmore
Shirley, Daisy and I at Mt. Rushmore.
Shirley, Daisy and I at Mt. Rushmore.

 

What do bears and Custer have in common?

There is so much to see and do in Rapid City that on Monday we decided to try and get in at least 2 destinations per trip.  So our first day of sightseeing we did 3!

There is so much to do here that a week will not be enough.  But to make the most of it, we started with a visit to Bear Country USA.

Bear Country USA
Bear Country USA

This is a drive through park that takes about 45 minutes.  Within the park are deer, bear, wolves, cougars, goats and a smaller walk through area where you will find the infants born at the park and some of the smaller animals like fox.

Artic Wolf
Artic Wolf
Cougars
Cougars
Bear Cubs
Bear Cubs

Leaving Bear Country we headed towards Custer State Park.  Along the way we stopped and had lunch in a neat little town called Keystone.  All the buildings in this town are fashioned after the old west.  A population of 327 and they all must work in the  tourist industry.  I do want to go back here for the 1880 train ride, if time permits.

Custer State Park has BUFFALO!

Our trip continued with a drive through Custer State Park.  I don’t have a lot to say about the park other than it would be a great place to live.  The views from different parts of the park were outstanding.

I have selected a few pictures to show some of the activities at the park.

Mt Rushmore from Custer State Park
Mt Rushmore from Custer State Park
Rock Formations
Rock Formations
More rock formations
More rock formations
Another view of Mt Rushmore.
Another view of Mt Rushmore.
Deer
Deer
This poor buffalo must have a headache
This poor buffalo must have a headache
Within 10 feet of the car
Within 10 feet of the car
Herd of buffalo
Herd of buffalo
This is what happens when you feed the animals.
This is what happens when you feed the animals.

 

Thoughts on our travels

I was looking over what has been written about our travels and thought I would expand on it some more. We left Denver, PA on July 7th and headed West.  We are traveling about 200-300 miles per trip and staying from 3-7 days per location.

Most of our stays are at private club campgrounds (Thousand Trails).  However, once we hit the mid west everything changes as Thousand Trails does not have any campgrounds west of Mississippi until you get to the West Coast area.

Our stays have all been great (other than the breakdown).  We have seen a lot of the country side, taken day trips around each campground and tried different things.

Highlights so far have to be the County Fair in IL, Air Force Museum in OH and a toss up between Vinegar Pie and Sweet Cream Pie in IN.  Mall of America in MN was ok and a definite bucket list to visit once.

South Dakota is a huge state to travel across.  We stayed in Sioux Falls area for 3 days.  KOA in Sioux Falls is a very nice campground.  Open sky to the South for satellite, great crew greeting and escort to your site.  Site was level and we have full hook ups with 50 Amp service.  Walked around and meet several nice people and talked for hours.  Again staff was very friendly.  If money were not a concern, I could easily stay at KOA for extended periods of time.

We arrived at Harts Ranch in Rapid City today around 3 PM (Mountain time).  This is a great campground.  Large as well with over 400 campsites.  No pull troughs.  We have 50 amp full hook ups but did have to pay a utility fee along with our RPI fee.  But $15 per night with full hook-up and 50 amps was well worth it.  Lots of activities every day for when we are traveling around the area.  Bible study, aquatic exercise, Bingo, Poker night and more.  However, I am not sure what kind of free time we will have.  This area is full of things to do.  We want to visit Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore, Bad Lands, Wall Drug Store (again), as well as other attractions.  Blog updates will be every couple of days while we are here.  Make sure you sign up so you will be notified.

South Dakota is our HOME!

Well, we did it!  We are no longer residents of Pennsylvania.  Completed the transfer today of our vehicle, drivers licenses, banking account, insurance, Good Sam, cell phones and a few others.  Still need to transfer our Thousand Trails to South Dakota.

Also went and did our sight seeing.  As far as I can tell there is still not much to see in Sioux Falls.  Once you see the falls that is about it.  There is suppose to be a Hot Air Balloon Festival and RiverFest here this weekend.  But the weather is kind of up in the air.

Last night’s rains were something else.  Poor Princess was nervous almost all night long.  She was shaking and would not go to sleep.  Needless to say we didn’t sleep well either.  The wind has finally died down some, but the weather forecast is for more rain starting after 7 PM.

Mom and Daisy

Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls

We came, we saw, we concured… Mall of America

One of the reasons for this stop was so that Mom (Shirley) could visit Mall of America.  If you haven’t been here, it is worthy of the bucket list.  Mall of America is huge.  It has over 520 stores, 50+ restaurants and its own indoor amusement, aquarium, police department and more.  Somewhere I heard that it is about 1 mile per floor when you walk around and it is 4 floors high.

One of the biggest things has to be the Lego store.  They have statues made of Legos all over the place.  Many of the ones on the roof of the store have to have taken months to put together.

Lego Wall
Lego Wall

 

Huge Lego Statue on roof
Huge Lego Statue on roof

For the girls there is a two story American Girl Doll store complete with a restaurant area to have lunch.  They will provide makeup sessions for dolls while you watch.

American Dolls Store
American Dolls Store

Of course what is a visit to the Mall of America without visiting the amusement area.

Amusement Park
Amusement Park
Amusement Park
Amusement Park
Amusement Park
Amusement Park

This is how a mall should be designed.  Not only as a shopping area but family entertainment as well.

One of the things that Daisy and I noticed was that there were very few repeat stores and direct competition was limited as well.  I can imagine that a trip to the mall during the Christmas season would be a real treat.

 

 

Made it to IL!

I have to say that the three of us are glad to be out of IN.  Spending 8 days in a hotel waiting on the RV to be repaired was enough.  Horseshoe Lakes was a nice way to unwind.  However, it was time to move on.  Our next stop was Pine Country Thousand Trails in Belvidere, IL.

We managed to get into the area without any problems.  In addition, it was Country Fair week!  Neither Daisy nor I could remember the last time we visited a big county fair and this one is one of the biggest in the state.

There is something about a county fair.  All the animals, kids, cow folk, rides, races, entertainment and food.  We spent the good part of the day, walking around looking at all the different animals and shows.

Kids Show
Kids Show

DSC_0068

Draft Horse
Draft Horse
Entertainment
Entertainment
Races
Races
Nice Horsey
Nice Horsey
Dressed Duck
Dressed Duck
Getting ready for the show.
Getting ready for the show.

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Time flies when camping

Well, I do have to apologize.  We have been on the road now for 3 weeks and I haven’t taken the time to catch up.  We left Indianapolis and stayed at Horseshoe Lakes outside of Clinton, IN.  This was one of the best campgrounds so far.

Each morning they have a coffee get together at 9 AM.  We went a couple of times.  They also had a Texas Hold-em night.  The area is known as the covered bridge capital of the country.  We drove one of the 6 loops that had covered bridges on it.  Here are some of the pictures.

Covered Bridge in IN
Covered Bridge in IN

Daisy walking the bridge

Covered bridge where we ate lunch.

I think one of the best things about Horseshoe Lakes had to be the view out our front window.  Although it wasn’t the best in the park (that belonged to the folks across the street), it was a nice way to have a cup of coffee and read.

Another View
Another View
Another view
Another view

Daisy and I love to just drive around the area.  Of course she couldn’t resist this one stop.

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