South Dakoda – Part III – BLACK HILLS & BADLANDS

We arrived in Keystone at about 4:00 p.m. (Mountain Time), to meet up with our friend and her three grandchildren (Isabelle 15, Collin 13 and Hamilton 11).

Keystone reminded me of a small Pigeon Forge, TN town with a western flair the moment we drove in.  We stayed three nights at the Econolodge.  It is an older, but clean and comfortable motel, with the necessary INDOOR pool/hot tub.  Keystone is definitely the best location to see all the incredible and splendid sites of this area.  You could easily spend a week here.

First night we all gathered at The Ruby House Saloon, fashioned after a Victorian era, Wild West bar.  After we drove up to Mount Rushmore for the evening light show.  The show started at 9:00 p.m., we arrived at 8 with still plenty of daylight to see this masterpiece.  Just so you know, it gets refreshingly cool here at night in late May.

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The next day we drove to Wind Cave National Park.  The drive, for me, was the best part.  It was a thirty mile drive through mountains and prairie, which hosted Buffalo, White-tail Deer, Prairie Dogs, Prong Horn Antelope, Black & Grizzly Bears, Rattle Snakes, Elk and Chipmunks.  We saw all but the bear and the snakes.  The Prairie Dogs were the biggest hit because we just pulled off the road and the pasture was full of them – barking and alerting the tribe of us “dangerous predators”.  I chose not to go into the cave because I’m still have a bout of vertigo and sweet husband stayed back with me.  Our friend took all four teens into the cave for an hour and half tour…brave and kind woman.

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Our plan was to drive back to Keystone to let the four teens take the alpine coaster, ropes course and zip line (an approximate 2 hour adventure), but thunderstorms moved in and the whole event had to be canceled.  We promised (weather permitting) we would try again in the morning.  They were greatly bummed, but settled for pizza at the pool/hot tub.

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Next morning was 46 degrees and rain.  We took them to an indoor fun house that promised extreme optical illusions.  Sweet husband stayed back and did laundry.  From there we drove past Mt. Rushmore to the Crazy Horse Monument.  This is enormous and ambitus and privately funded.  It was started in 1948 and will not be finished in our grandchildren’s life time.  They also have a wonderful film and museum.  I and the two 15 year olds were invited to dance with the Lakota Indian who was demonstrating several of his native Lakota dances.

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On our way home, we drove through Custer State Park on the Needles Highway.  This road, which in my opinion did not qualify as a highway, goes through the most incredible, massive, magnificent, vertical needles of granite.  It is only a few miles long, but took us well over an hour.  Prepare to be amazed.

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Arriving back at the motel, we hit to pool/hot tub again and had a picnic on the beds in one of our rooms.

In Downtown Rapid City are bronze statues of ALL of our Presidents.  Yes, they literally have them all.  It is called, “Presidents Walk”.  This is just a sampling.

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Next stop:  Cody, Wyoming…they have painted Buffalo on the downtown streets (way cool).

South Dakota – Part II (Sioux Falls and Corn Place)

South Dakota – Part II

After a full afternoon in Sioux City/Vermillion, we arrived in Sioux Falls in time to drop off sweet husband at the motel (actually the nicest Conform Inn we have ever stayed in) and hit to the mall a mile away with sweet granddaughter.  Our quest was new Nikes for her and a haircut for me.  All accomplished in record time.

Next morning, we drove to The Falls Park before heading out to Keystone.  Other than the falls, you would think we were in the Mississippi Delta; all flat farm land.  EXCEPT the nearest neighbor would be 20 to 30 miles away.  Thank God for our farmers.

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We stopped in Mitchell to view and visit the Corn Palace.  This arena is decorated anew each year with corn and grain and then the whole of the area celebrates.  It truly is an amazing site.  They set aside 100,000 acres to grow the multiple colors of corn and grain and hire artist to design the new murals each year.  One more stop in Wall.  Wall has the largest tourist emporium in the world, I suppose and signs for hundreds of miles announcing the NEED to stop and visit.

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That topography quickly changed when we reached Rapid City.  See South Dakota – Part III (next blog) My absolute FAV!.

South Dakota (in three parts) PART I – NATIONAL MUSIC MUSEUM

Between Sioux City and Sioux Falls in Vermillion, SD on the campus of The University of South Dakota you will find one of the largest (perhaps THE largest) musical Instrument collection in the world; some hundreds of years old and many very rare. The National Music Museum: America’s Shrine to Music & Center for Study of the History of Musical Instruments. It was founded in 1973. This museum is recognized as “A Landmark of American Music” by the National Music Council.

The museum’s renowned collections, which include more than 13,500 American, European, and non-Western instruments from all cultures and historical periods, are among the world’s most inclusive. They include many of the earliest, best preserved, and historically most important instruments known to survive. The quality and scope of this museum has earned it international recognition.

After our sweet-granddaughter’s visit to the Museum of Art in St. Louis her first day with us, this was not on her, “Things I really want to do on vacation” list.  Nevertheless, we pulled off the highway at about noon and finally had a late lunch – early dinner at one of the best diners EVER:  Café Brule (like the cream dessert) at 3:30 p.m.  We all did enjoy it, even sweet granddaughter.  I will let the pictures tell the tale. This is a small fraction of the instruments we saw and pictures we took.

Rare Cello, Violin and bow by Antionio Stradivari.   NOTE:  Granddaughter with heard phones, so we can hear how each instrument sounds when played.

Rare Cello, Violin and bow by Antionio Stradivari.
NOTE: Granddaughter with head phones, so we can hear how each instrument sounds when played.

Rare Cello, Violin and bow by Antionio Stradivari.

Rare Cello, Violin and bow by Antionio Stradivari.

BB King's sweet Lucille, signed and dated.

BB King’s sweet Lucille, signed and dated.

BB King's sweet Lucille, signed and dated.

BB King’s sweet Lucille, signed and dated.

Stromberg Banjo and Guitar

Stromberg Banjo and Guitar

Resonator Guitar by Dobro Brothers

Resonator Guitar by Dobro Brothers

Martin Guitar Model D28

Martin Guitar Model D28

Trumpet/prop from The Beatle's Sargent Pepper Movie

Trumpet/prop from The Beatle’s Sargent Pepper Movie

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The only existing all ivory Lute, circa 1550

The only existing all ivory Lute, circa 1550