Black Hills National Forest
Aug 26, 2009
|Time to catch up on the last couple of weeks. First, on Monday the 10th, J.C. and Crazy Horse had a parting of the ways. "They" wanted him to clean bathrooms 4 days a week which was not the verbal agreement when he signed his contract. He was supposed to work in the campground two days a week and at the visitor center two days a week. He only worked a couple of times at the visitor center and then his hours at the visitors center was cut down to two afternoons. Well, the powers that be essentially said take it or leave it. J.C. walked away. I am still working my 8 hours, 4 days a week. I don't have to but I want to fulfill my commitment and build up that last quarter I am missing from my Social Security benefits. It has gotten very slow in the campground. I have started bringing my beading which I had set aside when we got here. So how cool is that? I work in the campground office, check the bathrooms a couple of times for any mess (paper on the floor and such), watch TV, read a book, bring my laptop (when J.C. is not at home) and work on my beading projects trying to not get too bored or lonely. Oh yea, answer the phone on the off chance it rings and check the occasional guest/traveler that stumbles our way.
J.C. decided to go out and try to get a job for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, a few of the opportunities he found wanted him to work later in the year than we plan to stay. In the meantime, J.C. has been exploring. First up was the Mickelson Trail, riding the trail from Crazy Horse to Custer City. The Mickelson Trail is a rails to trails project that runs a 109 miles throughout the Black Hills. It is named after the governor who championed the project. He got some really pretty pictures and a flat tire. 8>( He only had to walk home about two miles.
He has also found some wonderful fishing streams and lakes exploring those nooks and grannies of the Black Hills I talked about. LIttle towns and gravel roads through Deerfield Lake, Mystic and Rochford. He brought home a beautiful 11" trout that was delicious. However, the fish has been estimated to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $60.00 per inch because he lost his brand new 3GS iPhone while tackling the trout to the ground. On a bright note, all of his excursions have added to our Black Hills National Forest album of photos.
The Black Hills National Forest stretches for 1.2 million acres. Spires of granite peaks and forested mountains make up the skyline of western South Dakota. America's oldest mountains rose above the flatlands 60 million years ago, about the time the dinosaurs disappeared. Years of erosion may have diminished the granite peaks some. However, Harney Peak along the Needles Hwy reaches the sky at 7,242 feet. The Lakota Sioux name the area Paha Sapa or Black Hills because a thick forest of pine and spruce trees cover the granite slopes making them appear black from a distance.
This area is considered the heartland of dinosaur country. Many significant dinosaur fossils have been found. One resides in the Black Hills Museum of Natural History in Hill City. This museum is home to Stan, a 65 million year Tyrannosaurus rex fossil. Stan is one of two most complete fossils ever found. Hot Springs is the place to go to see the Mammoth exhibits.
The Black Hills is home to the famous Mount Rushmore. The sculpture featuring the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The monument can be see along the Needles Scenic Hwy, framed by tunnels along the picturesque road within Custer State Park.
The Black Hills is a geological marvel with crevices, caves and caverns galore. There are literally miles and miles of underground wonders. The second longest cave in existence today is Jewel Cave. It celebrated its 100th anniversary as a national monument in 2008. Wind Cave and Rushmore Cave are a few more spectacular caves to see. Of course, there are many more, too many to list here.
Sylvan Lake along the Needles Hwy, Sheridan Lake and Pactola Lake along 385 north of Hill City are all great day trips or potential Black Hills National Forest camping destinations.
Our next outing is to drive the much heralded Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway as one of those drives not to miss. There is a gorge called the Eleven Hour Gorge because it is so deep it only gets sunlight one hour a day. Can hardly wait.