I got up at 5am, hoping for a 7am departure. Sunrise over the badlands:
This is the last trip where this arrangement will work. They are getting to be too big. Wake up!
M and B do their Little House on the Prairie imitation:
Surveying his domain:
We finally pulled out at 7:45ish. We headed over to Delta-09, the Minuteman Missile launch site:
It’s a long way down:
Sitting on the radar blister:
We made it to the Rapid City Kia by 9:30am, where we were informed that the transmission cooler had worn a hole in the A/C condenser line. They didn’t have the replacement part, and it would take a couple days to get, so we kept going. We will get it fixed when we get home.
Traveling south, we came to Deadwood, SD and the Big Thunder Mine:
We took the mine tour:
The brothers who ran the mine worked it for almost 30 years. In the end, they found 7 ounces. Bummer.
On to Mount Rushmore:
The kids are working on their Junior Ranger packets. I found myself saying “can we please finish it in the car?” more than once:
Continuing west, we reached Jewel Cave National Monument. While we waited for team Bubbie to arrive, we followed one of the nature trails. Here, ranger Tattie shows M a Ponderosa Pine. “Behold its flaking bark, a protection against fire. Smell its lovely butterscotch scent!” I think I’ll keep my day job.
Down we went into the cave. I regret not bringing a flash. Jewel Cave is currently listed as the second longest cave in the world, with over 150 miles of mapped passages. Scientists estimate that only 5% of the cave has been explored.
Here’s a map:
To get down into the cave, we ride down the longest elevator shaft in South Dakota. Not saying much, methinks.
The tour took about 90 minutes. It was great!
The schedule had us seeing Devil’s Tower, then driving on to BLM land, but we were still a bit behind. We found a campground listing for Moorcroft, but when we got there, we realized that the “campground” was little more than electrical hookup in the side yard of a hotel, so we went on to Sundance for the night. We drove about 252 miles today.