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Old 05-21-2005, 06:34 AM   #43
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Nice post and great history lesson. It brings back memories. I hope you drove down past Weir Point to the Reno-Benteen battlefield to see were the few survivors held out. As long as you obey the "watch for rattlesnakes" signs and don't go into the high grass it's interesting also.

You're getting a pretty good taste for this area. It's going to be tough to come back east after this.
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Old 05-21-2005, 01:26 PM   #44
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Excellent reading, keep it comin, Mike
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Old 05-21-2005, 09:55 PM   #45
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Welcome to Badland National Park

Getting to our next destination was pretty easy, make our way out of the driveway at Rapid City KOA and take a left and go straight into prehistoric times. Going down route 44 out of RC isn't very eventful it's much the same as any other road. We passed the RC raceway and kept on going into the farmland and country side.

Some 30 miles later we rolled into Scenic, SD. The road at times dipped into geologically prominent hills and steep descents adjacent to the pavement. This is where it starts getting interesting. Following the sign for Badland National Park is pretty straight forward just stay on route 44. Just on the other side of Interior, SD, you'll find route 240, The Scenic Loop Highway.


Boulevard to Prehistoric Times

The NPS wrote: Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. The Badlands Wilderness Area covers 64,000 acres and is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. The Stronghold Unit is co-managed with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances. Established as Badlands National Monument in 1939, the area was redesignated "National Park" in 1978. Over 11,000 years of human history pale to the ages old paleontological resources. Badlands National Park contains the world's richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 23 to 35 million years old. Scientists can study the evolution of mammal species such as the horse, sheep, rhinoceros and pig in the Badlands formations.


Waiting for the large bull to stop rolling in the dirt he stood and gave me this shot

The Badlands Scenic Loop Highway, (all gravel) is 31.5 miles and we took this road through the park ending at the Pinnacles Entrance directly south of I-90 and Wall, SD. As you transition from pavement to gravel the scenery starts getting eerie. The monotone geologic color of the entire area is largely shades of gray and the predominant features are time worn eroded buttes and pinnacles intermixed with vast acreages of grass. The grasses played a vital role before this place was a park in sustaining early settlers. Erosion left a fee high island topped with virgin sod. The grasses that grew there were not able to be eaten by the buffalo since the side of the butte were too steep. The farmers actually took apart a cutting machine and a bailer and reassembled them atop the mounds. The acreages of grass on top of the buttes provided hay and when bailed the hay was transported off of the butte via cable, collected and brought home. The names of the buttes reflect the activity of the time and the name has stuck and you can see them Hay Butte Overlook.

The area that we were actually traveling through is called the Sage Creek Wilderness. The park provides a home for herds of mountain goats, bison, antelope, and prairie dogs all of which are directly visible from the loop. Adjoining the property to the north is the Buffalo Gap National Grassland.


Mountain Goats live on the ridges and eat the grasses on the side of the road

One thing that you notice right from the start is the lack of water. NPS officials have posted that you need to bring water with you as much as a gallon a day per person. The water in the park is not potable as it can not be boiled or filtered because of the fine sediment that is suspended in the water. The color of the several ponds that we've seen is a pale gray and did not look at all inviting.


Deep ravines similar to this show the forces of erosion over time

While we were traveling through the park we came across a road grader maintaining the road. When it rains here, the water erodes the road terribly making it impassable in some points. We saw deep erosions in the shoulder of the road however new gravel was being spread. I do have to suggest that although you can do this road in practically any vehicle we found that the AWD of our Vue was really helping us as we traveled along the loose sand and gravel. Remarkably not too distant from the construction was Roberts Prairie Dog Town. This area featured numerous prairie dog burrows and a herd of Bison about 200 yards away from the lookout. The Bison were having a relaxing snooze and were lounging in the mid-day sun.


Numerous hills such as this are the principal feature of the park

When we eventually turned north and made our way out of the park we visited Wall Drug again. Once inside I asked the lady behind the counter for 2 ice creams in a cup and asked her where the free ice water was. She pointed to a tap at the end of the counter and said there it is. I just had to see what all this advertising led to but yes they do have free ice water.

Badlands National Park is a truly unique environment that is not duplicated anywhere in the US. If you're in the Rapid City area put this destination on your "To Do" list because it really will be well worth your trip.
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Old 05-22-2005, 04:27 AM   #46
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Driver, I just ran across tour travel log about your continuing Western Adventure. Having spent my life "Out West", its surely "in my blood", and upon your return to the East, I'll bet you find its in yours too. Your reports are really enjoyable, and I'll check daily to see what you are seeig. Our daughters presence in Grad. School in New Haven Ct. has caused us to spend the last 5 summers in Ct., which we have enjoyed immensely too..,, but I cant wait for her to get a job and return west so I can see some more of what you are seeing.. BTW, are you going to be at the NASCAR race in Phoenix in Nov?....Well, keep em rolling, and keep your eye out for that spot in the West of which it is said, " Wal, it ain't the end o' the world, but you can see it from there"... be safe...rgr...
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Old 05-22-2005, 06:29 AM   #47
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by rgrstndgby:
BTW, are you going to be at the NASCAR race in Phoenix in Nov?....Well, keep em rolling, and keep your eye out for that spot in the West of which it is said, " Wal, it ain't the end o' the world, but you can see it from there"... be safe.... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>rgr, Sounds like something an ol' sage of the West would have wrote and meant it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us about the "West".

We'll be back in Connecticut this summer staying at Odetah Campground in Bozrah, CT toward the end of June. We'll be entertaining our grandchildren for the week and there certainly isn't a lack of stuff to do in those parts.

Our next trip out to the West may be taking us out to Casa Grande, AZ and we certainly will be looking forward to seeing all of those great National Parks in the southwest.
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Old 05-22-2005, 08:20 AM   #48
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Hi Mike, Great posts and information We will be in the area June 3rd to the 8th and looking forward to seeing what You are describing.
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Old 05-22-2005, 05:51 PM   #49
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DriVer;
Great pictures. Keep them coming. They make me want to go back. I really appreciate the west.
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Old 05-25-2005, 06:41 PM   #50
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Our next trip out to the West may be taking us out to Casa Grande, AZ and we certainly will be looking forward to seeing all of those great National Parks in the southwest. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Driver, strange as it may seem, August in the Sonoran Desert, and elswhere in the SW is "Monsoon Season", and it deserves all of your attention and respect..A large percent of our annual raindfall comes in about 3 months, July, Aug, Sept.. These storms are nothing to take lightly, usually forming in the south of the area, in the early afternoon, they are often violent, alot of lightning, high winds, wind sheer, and torrential rain..seemingly contradictory, an added danger are dust storms.. Visibility drops to zero, and rear end collisions are common, and unfortunatly often fatal..I-10 near Casa Grande is in the middle of the dust storm zone. Im sure not trying to freak you on the area, far from it, but please be aware of these things, they can have serious consequenses...You didnt tell me if the Phoenix race in Nov. is on your sched..rgr..
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Old 05-26-2005, 08:27 AM   #51
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Driver, I agree with the advice to be aware of storm activity while driving. I've been away for so many summers now that I tend to forget what it was like driving in a dust storm. You can usually avoid getting caught in one if you travel early in the day and are off the road by 3pm.

I'm assumming you are going to CG for a special family event or on business.... can't imagine going anywhere in the AZ desert during the summer months by choice, particularly CG... as it is rather flat and barren... not scenic like Tucson or Phoenix/Scottsdale.

That's why we head to the cool northern CA and OR coast from June thru September. Too hot here for me...
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Old 05-30-2005, 11:44 AM   #52
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Just found your travelog, Mike! Wow! Wonder of wonders...that we even ran into you in Sioux Falls, S Dak.! (For others: we'd been to Forest City, IA. for repairs on our endcap -- and went on to Sioux Falls to meet up with a Sheltie buddy!)

I see you haven't had time to post -- hopefully you've made Forest City, IA., and Berrien Springs, MI and are on your way to Portage, IN. for some R & R again.

It was great to meet you, Colleen and Roxie.

Our jaunt to SDak...and mid-Michigan is over. (sigh). On to other things for a few days...like mowing grass. . .

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Old 05-30-2005, 04:06 PM   #53
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Well, I'm back! The Youth Fairgrounds in Berrien Springs, MI was out of my Verizon WWAN area so I was off of the iNet for the past 5 or so days.

We're on site at the Yogi Bear Jellystone Campground in Portage, IN and we'll be here for a week before we leave to go south to Union City, IN.

Departing Union City we'll be heading "East" for the iRV2.com National Rally.

I have many things to write about:
The Million Pancake Man
Mount Rushmore
Wind Caves National Park
Crazy Horse National Monument
The Black Hills of South Dakota

and Eastward to Forest City.

I'll have time to start writing this week so check back often!
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Old 05-30-2005, 04:47 PM   #54
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DriVer, your trip back east has reminded my wife an I of our trip back in 2000 almost the same route from Montana. You should start writing travel books for RVers. ---"007"

PS. Max can't wait to meet Roxy, he's panting with passion, see you at Nat. Rally.
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Old 06-02-2005, 08:18 AM   #55
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I believe that I already mentioned that we stayed at the KOA Rapid City in mid-May and I would like to talk more about that. On our way back east to where we are right now in Portage, IN, I was able to document my best mileage value "ever".

Coming into Rapid City from Montana and through Wyoming on the I-90 I had filled up at the Pilot in Columbus, MT and we went on to Hardin, MT. This distance was only 90.2 miles however it certainly was enough to document fuel consumption.

We departed the Pilot at 12:45 Hrs. and arrived at the Hardin Koa at 14:30 Hrs, 1.75 Hrs on the road total, distance, 90.2 miles. Our average speed was 51.54 mph. The next morning we filled up at the Shell station right on the 47 on the way back to I-90 and we took 9.586 gallons. The cost of Regular 87 at this station was $2.399. If I did my math correctly we got 9.41 mpg and that isn't all that shabby for a 38 foot motorhome pulling a 3940 pound load.


John Horton, KOA's "Million Pancake Man"

If you've going through Rapid City, South Dakota make it a point to stop in and see John Horton, "The Million Pancake Man". Not only is John a million pancake man but he's also a cowboy poet and musician. Here's one of his pieces that he wrote.

Every guest is special.
And all have their special needs.
Who can help these guests?
It all begins with me.

The answers that I give them;
The voice, the cheery smile.
Can ease the traveler's burden
And wipe away hard miles.

And if they are complaining,
Their side I try to see.
The solution may be difficult,
But it all begins with me.

For I have chosen "Service"
In the world of Hospitality
And if it is to grow,
It all begins with me.


John's appearance is classic regarding what a cow poke should look like, from his well worn western hat down to his buckle, denim jeans and riding boots, his weathered smile is framed by a great looking handlebar mustache. The apron however is a dead giveaway. He hardly misses a day except for his day off. John is usually found by his grill cooking and serving up pancakes by 7:00 o'clock in the morning for the past 14 years. I sat down with John and he explained to me what it took to make a million pancakes.

First off these pancakes are 5 inch pancakes and he cooks them on a rather large grill, he especially gets busy during the Sturgis "Bike Week". He tells me that just about every square foot of space in the campground is taken and he even pointed to an overflow section down at the bottom of the hill about 100 yards away from the campground. During the year John uses 2.5 tons of pancake flour, 400 gallons of syrup and roughly about 450 pounds of margarine. John tells me that in a year, if he set his pancakes on edge they would stretch about 6.7 miles. John has been making anywhere between 85 and 90 thousand pancakes a year and he says the average person eats 3.4 pancakes. John keeps meticulous records in fact he said that he has used more than 36 tons of pancake mix over the years.

When John tossed his "Millionth" pancake it was a banner day for him, the press showed up, the owner of the Krusteaz Pancake Mix Company was there as well as the president of KOA, Mr. Jim Rogers. The Rapid City Journal wrote a feature article about him and what it took to make a million pancakes. John started off my stating that he agreed to take on the job for only a year in 1989 however he came to love what he was doing and he stayed with it. He uses the same spatula everyday. John said, "We feed about 700 people in 2 and half hours during the Sturgis motorcycle rally" he continued, "It takes about 70 gallons of batter a day." So how do you mix up that much batter he was asked?, "The same way you do a gallon", he replied, "But five gallons at a time." He doesn't use any electric mixers by the way, it's all done by hand the ol' fashion way and he wouldn't have it any other way. John's pancakes always come out light and fluffy.

John has six children and nineteen grandchildren and during his life he was a rodeo cowboy, horse trader, a ferrier and an outfitter. Throughout the years John has extracted from his experiences the poetry that he writes today. If you're comin' this-a-way, come on in and meet John Horton the Million Pancake Man. The best part of your stay here at the Rapid City KOA is that all of John's pancakes, some one-million of them have been and are still 100% FREE!

'My aunt said, "Sonny, there's two kinds of cowboys in this world those that can cook and those that are always hungry." This is one cowboy that never went hungry.'
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Old 06-02-2005, 06:07 PM   #56
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Another great post Driver! You know I have been to a lot of places on this ball we call the world but none have the special treasures that we are blessed with here in the USA. Mr.Horton is one of them. Thanks again for your great narratives. Happy Trails!!
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