In what was a great day with a great plan, this was an unexpected “doink”…
On this day the plan was to experience Badlands National Park but in the end, it didn’t work out that way. Just the same, we had a great day. In planning the day someone, who will remain nameless, hatched a brilliant plan which would allow us to see the park and at the same time avoid what was sure to be heavy traffic in and through the most popular park entrance. We could approach the park instead from the southwest and see its beauty with less hassle.
Off we went and the route started out beautifully. We headed south from Hill City through Custer State Park, a state park and wildlife reserve in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota. Numerous people had told us that as special as it is to see the Badlands, to miss Custer State Park would be unfortunate. They were so right. This drive was beautiful, filled with spectacular scenery and wildlife to be appreciated. Although, in spite of frequent signs warning to be careful of the Bighorn sheep we never saw a one. Just the same, we were glad we took the advice of other travelers to follow this route.
A brief side note. Moose. Dawnie’s convinced there are not actually any moose, anywhere, on earth. She’s convinced they’re a myth sort of like Jackalopes, Mermaids, Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster. It’s become a family joke of sorts with any of us suddenly pointing out the window yelling, “MOOSE!” usually followed by “or, just another cow.” She doesn’t always take that in the jovial spirit it’s meant. She’s been on a mission from the very start of this trip to see a moose and with no luck at all. Yellowstone was her greatest hope. She was sure she’d see a moose in Yellowstone. But no. We actually counted a total of 25 different animals we’ve seen in the wild on this trip but no moose (or Bighorn sheep). So her search continues, laced with some spite, disgust, and disdain for the whole idea of moose…
Exiting the south end of Custer State Park we soon found ourselves in Hot Springs SD. We rolled into town along the main street in town which parallels Fall River. Looking across the river we could see an arts and crafts festival going on and with Collin’s suggestion to stop and visit we did just that. It turned out to be a fun stop and a great lunch break. We enjoyed live music, viewing the art and the atmosphere.
For Dawnie, there was an added bonus with visiting the Hot Springs Main Street Arts and Crafts Festival, Indian Tacos!! Ever since we left the southwest US Dawnie’s been on a mission to find Indian Tacos. With all the places we visited where she could have gotten some it just never crossed her mind till it was too late. Here at the arts festival she found some and to hear her tell it they were w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l! SO with that little treat in the books for her, off we went headed for the Badlands.
Unfortunately, there was one little flaw in our plan to approach the Badlands via an alternate route. Unbeknownst to us, forty miles into our seventy-ish mile route was an Indian reservation, closed to all but local Indian traffic. Doh! This explains the featured photo at the top of this post. So after a good 20-30 miles of countryside just like what you see pictured here, with the expectation that the Badlands were on the other end… we’re turning around and going back whence we came… At least we knew the way back.
To cap our day though, we had a special visitor! When we returned to camp we were greeted by a very special visitor who had driven all the way from Colorado to find us along our route. Mr. Kettling is someone we had never had the opportunity to actually meet face to face but whom we’ve known for almost six years! He is a very strong supporter of Ryan’s Work Builders business and has been from early on. He’s purchased many sets of blocks over the years, shared them, and used them in very inventive ways.
We felt quite special that Mr. Kettling was willing to drive hundreds of miles to visit us. We all went out to dinner (Flo included) together at a nice restaurant in Hill City called “Desperados”. It was such fun to finally meet someone we’d only known electronically to this point. He came with some thoughts and inspiration for the boys with regards to Ryan’s business among other things. It’s so great for them to see this kind of support from others outside their parents and meant a lot to us. Thanks for coming Mr. Kettling! We look forward to talking with you again soon!