2010 Summer Vacation, Day 6

 

I got up at 5am, hoping for a 7am departure.  Sunrise over the badlands:

 

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This is the last trip where this arrangement will work.  They are getting to be too big.  Wake up!

 

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M and B do their Little House on the Prairie imitation:

 

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Surveying his domain:

 

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We finally pulled out at 7:45ish.  We headed over to Delta-09, the Minuteman Missile launch site:

 

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It’s a long way down:

 

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Sitting on the radar blister:

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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:

 

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We took the mine tour:

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The brothers who ran the mine worked it for almost 30 years.  In the end, they found 7 ounces.  Bummer.

On to Mount Rushmore:

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The kids are working on their Junior Ranger packets.  I found myself saying “can we please finish it in the car?” more than once:

 

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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.

 

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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:

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To get down into the cave, we ride down the longest elevator shaft in South Dakota.  Not saying much, methinks.

 

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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.

 

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2010 Summer Vacation, Day 5
2010 Summer Vacation, Day 7

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