Custer City, Historic Jewel Cave & Newcastle, WY
Aug 2, 2009
|Our second outing since we started working was to go see Jewel Cave. We decided to stop and walk the streets of Custer City first because of all the bikes in town. Due to the rally, Custer City blocked off the center lane of the entire "main street" so the motorcycles can park down the center. Hill City did the same thing. Very cool. Hill City restricts the traffic through the center of town to just motorcycles. But, this stuff is for another post I plan to write which will be just about the Sturgis Rally.
We are shopping for Sturgis souvenirs, a new belly bag for J.C. and whatever else might strike our fancy. I found a great motorcycle charm for my bracelet. It looks more like a Harley but that's OK. I also found a wonderful pink top that has the quotation I use on my email signature, "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in hand, latte in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out screaming "Woo Hoo, what a ride!".
We found another great t-shirt in an art gallery and some folks from home. Well, they were originally from Danville, CA. and now owned the art gallery in Custer City. Anyway, the t-shirt was of Mount Rushmore but instead of presidents the sculpture was dogs. The caption: "Best Friends of Mount Rushmore". Being an animal lover, I just had to have it. J.C. did find a new belly bag and a great Sturgis souvenir hat.
Custer City's thing around town is painted buffalo. They are everywhere! This is a small town but has everything. I'm really glad we took the time to walk it. Besides it is really exciting to see the hundreds of motorcycles and we are 80 miles from the main event in Sturgis. The shear number of bikes is mind boggling. We plan to go to Sturgis on Friday, August 7th. It will be near the end of the rally but not over yet.
As we headed west out of Custer, we passed The Flintstones Theme Park Campground. All the buildings are fashioned just like the Flintstones cartoon and the movie. Really neat place for kids.
Our next stop was intended to be Jewel Cave National Monument but we also wanted to see Newcastle, Wy which was only 20 to 30 miles up the road. So, first we stopped at the Jewel Cave Historic Site. It is located a mile or so west of today's Jewel Cave Entrance. We walked the trail and found the original entrance, read all about the cave and so on. This old entrance is used today for the Lantern Tour. Jewell Cave National Monument is the second longest cave in the world. It is considered by most folks in these parts to be best of the many caves to see in the area. On August 24, 2000 a devastating fire swallowed up 1,279 acres of the Jewel Cave National Monument. It took a month to get this massive fire under control. At one point there were 1,160 personnel on the fire lines trying to fight this fire. It was arson and the guilty party was caught. So many of my pictures reflect the devastation and the renewal in progress.
We headed for Newcastle, Wy. There is not much to the town. But I did read that for rock climbers, there is the Whiterock climbing area. Take U.S. Hwy 16 west 1.9 miles from the junction of U.S. 85 in Newcastle. Turn left at Salt Creek Road. It is a boulder field along some sandstone cliffs. The field is located on private property but the owners welcome rock climbing enthusiasts.
We stopped for lunch at an old drive-in diner called "Howdy Drive-In" with working speakers, menus and a server that comes to your car. We went inside to order but ate outside. Our waitress loved her job and was a very happy person. The food was pretty good. The cheesecake flavored shake I had was awesome.
On the way home we spotted a small herd of Buffalo taking a siesta. This part of the country is pretty flat with some hills in the distance and lots of ranches. Cattle, horse and buffalo. I really enjoy these excursions but It will be good to get back to our pretty Black Hills. We spent so much time with all the other sight seeing, we never made it to the Jewel Cave tour. The last tour was at 5:30. We will have to do that another day.