As Winnie really struggled to climb the Black Hills and I struggled to remember what both Sean and Eric had told me about how to downshift, when to take off the overdrive and more, I was so relieved to see a small RV repair shop, which also sold gas and propane, on my side of the road. I pulled in and had a long talk with a very nice young man who was kind enough to do a class for me on “How to Drive on Steep Grades 101.” When I pulled out, I had full tanks of both gas and propane, and a much better understanding of what to do driving through the Black Hills and those to come.
I was so happy to pull into Raffers-J-Bar RV resort and find packed just in front of my spot my friends John & Susanne, whom I had met at the campground in Carlock, IL. We had kept in touch with each other as we divided out travels near Chicago and decided how fun it would be to see the Black Hills area together. And that’s what we have done for the past 2 days!
Susanne had a delicious dinner prepared when I arrived and we got reacquainted. That evening we went to Mt. Rushmore to see the awe-inspiring carvings of the 4 presidents lite at night by giant floods. Because it’s not ‘high season’ yet, we were allowed to enter the park without paying and without 1000’s of other people jostling us for space. It was just beautiful and amazing, and though the next 2 days, I photographed the faces from many different angles through-out the area, it never ceased to be a jaw-dropping sight.
Along with both of their dogs, yesterday we all piled into John’s big truck and off we went to Custer State Park and the Crazy Horse Memorial for a photo safari. We saw buffalo, burros, deer, wild turkey all up close – even sticking their noses in the truck windows! Though most of the day was overcast, the scenery was just magnificent. We stopped many times and just listened to the quiet, realizing that if you removed the roads and park signs, this massive piece of land would be just as it was when Custer was losing to Sitting Bull and the buffalo roamed by the 100 of thousands. We enjoyed a great lunch at the Blue Bell Lodge in the park and last night we went into Hill City for dinner at the Alpine Inn (they only have one item on their menu).
Unfortunately, for me at least, John and Suzanne are starting their trip back to their home in South Tahoe today, so we have to say good-bye. We’ve agreed to meet at the Burning Man happening in September and will certainly keep in touch throughout the summer. What these wonderful people have taught me is that there are many fun, interesting and great folks traveling our highways in RVs right along with me. If I’m lucky, I’ll meet many of them along the way.
Hope you enjoy just a few of the pictures I’ve taken of the area in the past 2 days! Until next time…take care of each other.