We decided to bypass some of the attractions in the eastern part of South Dakota this trip, saving them for our next trip west when we take on North Dakota and some Canadian provinces next year.
But western South Dakota still has much to offer. One place every traveler has to stop at is the town of Wall, SD. Wall isn't known for very much, except for the famous tourist trap of Wall Drug. Truth be told, we didn't see a single thing that resembled a drug store at Wall Drug, but there were plenty of overpriced and bargain souvenirs in a series of connected stores on both sides of the main street. Moccasins, Black Hills gold jewelry, pens, pocket knives, t-shirts, hats and all manner of trinkets and trash designed to relieve unwary travelers of their hard-earned cash.
And of course, food. Continuing my quest to depopulate the buffalo and bison herds in South Dakota, I of course order yet another buffalo burger. And since they pretty much have a captive audience in Wall, the prices aren't cheap. Barbara's and my lunch came to $45. However, it WAS a buffalo bacon burger, so I was OK with that cost.
After a quick refueling to top off the Mini, we scouted out a potential boondocking site just 6 miles down the road from Wall. Known as “The Wall at the Badlands”, it is a tract of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land on a cliff overlooking the Badlands section of the Black Hills. The view is absolutely majestic. We had planned to stop there for a couple of days after leaving Rapid City, but temperatures were expected to be in the '90's both days, and we really didn't want to have to run our generator all day long just to keep the motor home comfortable. No problem; we'll be back in cooler temps.
During our earlier foray into Custer State Park, we drove past Sylvan Lake. Beautiful rock formations in and around the lake, and Sylvan Lake has a bit of history to it. If you're familiar with the 'National Treasure' movies starring Nicholas Cage, in 'National Treasure 2', near the end of the movie where the cast is searching for the secret entrance of the location to the lost treasure, they are searching a rock formation overlooking a lake. The rock formations and lake in that scene are surrounding Lake Sylvan!
It's not a very big lake, but it is absolutely beautiful to view in person. So out comes our inflatable kayak and an hour and a half of weaving in and out of rocks and traveling under five and six story cliffs. Great way to spend a morning. If you want to enjoy Sylvan Lake, go early in the day. It's a very popular destination for adults and kids, and offers kayaks for rent, a small beach for access to the lake, and hiking trails.
One of our off days found us staying put in the 36LA due to potential thunderstorms in the area. If you watched out last video, you saw a small hailstorm on our trip down from Custer State Park. Apparently hail is much more prevalent in the Great Plains than we've been used to on the East Coast, because while I was outside talking with one of our neighbors in the RV park, I hear some sharp reports all around us. A closer look showed them to be hailstones, and they're becoming a LOT bigger than the little versions that hit our Mini in the last video
And they're becoming much more plentiful. And bigger still.
I dive into the RV, abandoning my neighbor, and experience what it's like to be in a very large drum. Looking outside, I see golf ball-sized hailstones hitting the ground, and hear them hitting my roof! Fortunately, we suffered no damage, although my neighbor had the dome above his shower cracked by one.
Continuing my golf quest across the country, I schedule a round of golf at a course just outside Ellsworth AFB just east of Rapid City. It's ironic that I'm playing on an Air Force base golf course. It confirms the old joke about how do you build an Air Force base; first you build the golf course . . . LOL. Anyway, it was a pretty nice course open to the public consisting of nine holes. My golf game was off that day, not because of the lack of playing time I've had recently, but because of the weather. Take a look at the screen shot of the wind conditions during my round. Tough day!
Our last venture out was a trip to the town of Deadwood; another tourist trap north and west of our location, and a nearby meet and greet with Facebook friends Bill and Virginia Goldman. Had a wonderful dinner and drinks, and confirmed once again that fellow Tiffin owners are some of the nicest people on earth. Bill has one of the first Liquidspring installs on his Open Road 32SA, and was the one who got me interested in making sure our 36LA was equipped with it. We're both looking forward to the front-end solution being made available soon.
Out time in South Dakota had come to an end, and it was time to head back to our ultimate destination back to Georgia, but first we need to get there. Nebraska awaits!
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.