Speed run from Tennessee complete, we settle into our site at Lazy JD RV Park just northwest of Rapid City, SD. It's a small park with about 25-30 spaces, fairly level lots with two sections; one with gravel pads separated by grassy patio areas, and one section with grass-only sites. They also utilize the shared patio concept where your hookups are in the center of two sites. You pull into your site and your neighbor on the driver's side pulls into his in the opposite direction. If you're traveling with another couple you get to have your patio face their patio so that socializing is easier. The utilities are staggered towards the “front” of one shared site and the “back” of the next so that you're not exiting your door at your neighbor's door, so it works out well even if you're not traveling with someone you know. They have a laundry room and bathrooms, but that's about it for amenities. Very basic campground, but nicely situated to take day trips to the Rapid City area and points north and west. And very quiet, unlike other parks nearby that are right on the interstate.
Lazy JD only takes cash or checks, so be prepared beforehand. Also, you pretty much get to pick your own site(s); just pull in and hook up. They come around after a while to settle up your payment. Don't know if it was because they were fairly empty or whether that's the usual case. We had called ahead before leaving our previous park to make sure they had space available for the July 4th weekend, and the “pick your spot” rule was in effect, even for our two-week stay.
We had hoped for some cooler temperatures being this far north, but the heat has been murderous pretty much every day of our first week here. Not having trees overhead makes it very difficult for our 36LA to cool off much below 85 degrees, even with the 15k BTU A/C going all afternoon long in the front. And our second week here doesn't look to be any cooler.
But still, we have things to see and work to accomplish, and a Mini Cooper convertible to drive that helps us enjoy the sunny and hot weather.
First up is the obligatory drive through Custer State Park, about a hour south of where we're situated. An easy drive down some very nice state roads gets us to the main entrance of the park. There are no day passes to purchase at Custer State Park; only weekly and yearly passes. Some folks don't like to spend the $20 to buy a weekly pass, but given all the things you can do in Custer State Park it is a great value, as it will take at least 3-5 days (if not more) to see everything that is worth seeing. Our drive on just the Wildlife Loop Road took the better part of a day!
And what a drive! Two different herd of buffalo that blocked our path and were spread out across both sides of the road. Grover was tethered in the back seat of the Mini with our top down, and he wasn't having anything to do with these hairy behemoths looking in and staring at the strange car and people. He stared at them, but knew this wasn't the time to establish any dominance! Later on a group of burros were holding court while people fed them carrots and apples. Finally, a group of deer hunkered down in an area trying to find some shade from the Sun's rays. All encapsulated in a series of beautiful rolling hills.
While there, we decided to scope out a future destination for us later in the week. We have wanted to use our tandem inflatable kayak on trips where we'd have time enough for the material to dry before packing it away for travel, and Sylvan Lake was beckoning to us. Very busy during the day, so we figure we'll head up there real early on a weekday in order to get a parking spot. Good thing we scoped it out. Video and pictures to follow in a future post.
To finish of our first day's visit, we headed over to the Needles portion of the park to take in some majestic rock formations and take the Mini through some very narrow, very low tunnels. There is some very cool video of our visit in the file below.
Due to hot and humid conditions and the elevation involved, Custer State Park can generate some very different weather patterns at times. As we were heading down from Needles, a storm began brewing above us. After a few minutes the temperature started dropping about 15 degrees, and we began getting pelted with hail!
Fun is fun, but there was still business to be done. As we've mentioned before, Barbara and I had to apply for passports to get us into and out of Canada for planned trips next summer to the Maritime Provinces and to Alaska. Renewing can be done online, but applying for the first time needs to be done in person, and in the county of your residence. We made an appointment online at the Box Elder Post Office for Friday morning at 10, and had all our paperwork pre-filled out . You've got to produce originals AND copies of your driver's license and your birth certificates. Be ready to give up your original birth certificates temporarily to the Federal government, as they are needed for verification by confirming the seals used by local clerks of court.
Used to be that you'd get these documents back within a few weeks to a month, but with the government closing approximately 32 offices that were used to process passport applications due to the pandemic, we were warned that we might not get them back for 6 months! At this point, we're just hoping we'll see our passports in time for next summer's travels. Rhonda at the Box Elder Post Office couldn't have been nicer or more efficient, and we were out of there in less than 30 minutes; but not before being relieved of $220 for the Feds, and $100 to the Post Office for processing fees and pictures. Application complete!
The Feds just cashed our checks yesterday - less than a week from applying for the passports, which was quicker than I thought they'd be. Doubt their processing will be as quick, but you never know!
Now we can get on with Part 2 of our South Dakota adventure . . . Featuring a surprise destination on our way out of state!
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.