Our photo safari in Custer State Park, SD seemed more like a trip to the petting zoo rather than a wildlife quest. The Bison acted even more casual and indifferent to visitors than their Yellowstone cousins.
Burros, not indigenous to the area, begged for attention and tourists petted them through open car windows. The “real” wild life eluded us but we enjoyed the scenic drive.
The road took us over the infamous Needles Highway, a 14 mile winding stretch through narrow granite tunnels and hairpin curves which a fellow tourist described as “a great effort in cooperation”. Cars took turns entering the one-way tunnel from both directions as excited tourists stood inside posing for photos!
This rugged Black Hills highway, named for the slim granite peaks prevalent in the area is home to the Needles Eye, a granite formation that looks like the eye of a needle. The spires are a favorite spot for rock climbers and we just couldn’t resist…..
NO…that’s NOT us! But what a great photo opportunity! Greg jumped out of the car with his monster lens and a voice rang out from the top of the spire. “Would you mind taking a photo of us?” Well, that’s exactly what we had in mind. “Can you send me a copy?”, the brave climber asked. “Absolutely!”, Greg shouted up. “What’s your e-mail address?” Now that was probably the most unique way of making new acquaintances on the road! Thank you Chris (and your wife!) for a fun photo experience. Safe climbing!
We concluded our Rapid City adventure with a visit to the nearby South Dakota Badlands, a place where seemingly endless, flat prairies stop and drop into colorful, deep craggy canyons. Fittingly named by both the Lakota and early French Trappers, it is no wonder they dreaded traversing the Badlands. In awe, we trekked up to panoramic viewpoints and peered over cliff edges with our buddy, Steve Quai. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright described the area as “a distant architecture, ethereal…., an endless supernatural world more spiritual than earth but created out of it”.
We snapped back to reality with a visit to Wall Drug. Located minutes from the park entrance, in Wall, SD, this store has quite a history, lots of quirky attractions and is a tribute to good old fashioned faith, hard work and ingenuity (http://www.walldrug.com/t-history.aspx).
My favorite part (no, not the jackalope!) is the wall with photos from all over the world…at the Great Wall, Mt. Fuji, etc. with people holding signs saying “Wall Drug, Wall, SD”. As we gazed at the photos, we met a woman taking a photo of her uncle’s photo posted on the wall.
Farewell Rapid City, SD…..Hello Mesa Verde, CO (will be reporting on this from Moab, UT…where did the time go?!)