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Posts tagged ‘South Dakota’

Campground Showers: Big Sioux Recreation Center


As a full-time RVer I’ve seen my share of state park campground showers.
Sadly, most are old, dirty, and in desperate need of repair.

South Dakota’s #bigsiouxrecreationarea is a nice exception to the trend. While it won’t displace Utah’s Kodachrome State Park from its solid hold atop my #bestcampgroundshower ranking, it’s nice to see Big Sioux campground bring its A-game.



Not all mountain bike rides are “epic”.  Some, like today’s are low-key, loads of fun, and also offer the conveneince of a trailhead minutes from your in-laws house.


Mount Rushmore


Three million visitors annually position Mount Rushmore as South Dakota’s top tourist attraction … it’s kinda a big deal around here, even if designated only as a National Memorial.

After paying the $10 parking “donation”, Kelly and filed onto the grounds Saturday night with thousands of others, all of us intent on catching the fading daylight hours and subsequent 9:30pm lighting ceremony.

We arrived about 90 minutes early, which allowed us plenty of time to explore.  Similar to nearly every national park, monument, or memorial we’ve visited before, the areas adjacent to the visitor center and gift shop were jam-packed with people.   But for those few of us venturing just a few minutes away from that madness, we quickly found ourselves mostly alone, quietly walking the broader memorial grounds.


It’s a shame to come to this place of Americana nationalism and not escape the crowd madness, for the surrounding national forest really is quite nice.  There is a path rewarding those who take the time to sneak away multiple, up-close views of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.

Eventually the sun faded and we were all kept in suspension for the presentation.  Predictably,  the lighting itself was unnecessarily hokey and a bit underwhelming.  As to be expected I suppose. 

My bigger compliant dealt with the ice cream shop frustratingly closing well in advance of the lighting ceremony – literally with armed park rangers stopping anyone from attempting to secure a tasty (and I’m guessing overpriced) double scoop waffle cone one minute past the 9pm closing.  By contrast, the gift shop remained open until 11pm, providing those who found themselves waiting for the parking structure exiting chaos to diminish, ample shopping opportunity to purchase just about anything nobody actually needs.

The American consumerism culture on full display.  I cannot imagine this national memorial would have it any other way.


Big Storm, Minor Damage


Summer rain and hail storms here in the Midwest can be something fierce.

This week an afternoon a storm cell quickly snuck-up on me, bringing heavy rains and ferocious winds.  Despite my best efforts to hastily retract the (Zip Dee) patio awning, I found myself wrestling with what was effectively a 20 foot sail.  While I eventually managed to retract, I did not do so without escaping damage … specifically the ‘claw hook’, which is a piece of connecting support bracket hardware.

Fortunately, the claw hook is seemingly designed to fail under certain circumstances; I suspect this design helps avoid even more significant damage .

A quick internet search pointed me to a parts dealer and within a few minutes I had a replacement part on its way.   The part was easy to replace and cost only $21.

Unfortunately, 2-day shipping from Utah set me back $20 dollars.


On Patrol


Pushing west towards Colorado, we are back at our favorite Black Hills campground for the week.  Kelly is in San Francisco for the week, so it’s been just Lilly and me the past few days.  All is good through – I’ve been fortunate to have great neighbors supplying me with good conversation, they’ve fed me, and they have a big lovable dog that Lilly has completed ignored.

Speaking of Lilly … it seems she too has embarrassingly levels of adoration for this quickly campground – albeit less for its laid-back vibe and surprisingly nice bathrooms.  For her, this place is all about the field grasses steps from the camper.  Undeterred by aging barbed wire fencing, she is having loads of fun stalking field mice who dare enter her turf.

Fear not mice … Lilly and I are leaving tomorrow; the reign of terror will be ending soon.

Coming Home

I’m fortunate to live a lifestyle such that I can park my mobile dwelling just about anywhere I choose.  This week I am in Brookings, the small South Dakota town where I was raised.   Less two high-school reunion weekends, I’ve really not been back since I left 21 years ago.

The town is vastly different these days, but at the same time fundamentally unchanged – I feel a certain comfort and familiarity here. While I would never choose to “live” here in the traditional sense, I’ve been so happy to be visiting without rush.

I have no idea where my future travels will take me, but this small town will always be home.


In the fall of 1990, I found myself somewhat lost and overwhelmed … an 18yr old kid on the campus of big university.  Looking for comfort, I quickly found solace in what was familiar – which in my case was playing basketball.  Within this process I begin frequenting “the barn” – an old athletic facility which years prior to my arrival, university officials had retired from official sporting events, but made available for students and community residents.

I cannot begin to guess how many times I ran up and down this creaky floor as an undergraduate.  Needless to say, a good number of my college friendships are rooted in this building – the result of hours of pick-up games, which may or may not have involved a lot of talking shit, arguments, and other nonsense.

Having not visited the campus since May of 1994, this morning I found myself in this relic of a building wondering how did the years pass so quickly.  All these years later I was immediately nostalgic for the good times had in this too hot, too cold, dumpy, smelly place.