Happy Friday! This past weekend most of the Unfiltered Adventurers did work. And by work, I mean real work. Leslie and Stephanie had to work all day on Sunday and Andrea spent the weekend building a firepit! Keep your eyes peeled for a special DIY post from her next week! While they were busy working away, I was...On the Road Again. Does anyone else have the urge to sing that when they go on a road trip?
About a month ago, my mom mentioned wanting to drive up to South Dakota so she could see Mount Rushmore. After asking how long of drive that was from Kansas and how many hours of that trip she expected me to drive, the trip was booked! Most of the scenery looked like this -------------------> on the drive up. That is, except for the torrential downpours we got caught up in. Seems like every Unfiltered Adventure road trip requires a storm of some sorts. About 300 miles out of Rapid City, we started seeing signs for Wall Drug. I had read about this place on another blog and knew I wanted to stop here. The place is a complete tourist trap and I loved every minute of it - about 20 minutes to be exact, as that is as long as we lasted there. But, a cute robe and a few souvenirs later, we were back on the road to Rapid City.
Once in Rapid City, we checked into our hotel and headed downtown for a bite to eat. Dinner at Firehouse Brewing Company sounded perfect. The brewery is housed in an old Fire Station and had a lot of memorabilia but no fire pole that I saw. I highly recommend the Cheesy Artichoke Dip and Blue Eye Girl Blonde Ale. Unfortunately, I was not in blogging mode and failed miserably at taking any pictures!
The next day was Mount Rushmore day! It was a short and easy drive to the monument from Rapid City. Keystone, SD is at the base of the mountain and offers souvenir shops, restaurants, and even an 1880s steam train. Unfortunately, the wine train express for that weekend was already booked. Bummer - maybe next time! From Keystone, you can see most of Mount Rushmore!
Mount Rushmore was beautiful and the park area was well maintained. I highly recommend making your way down to the Sculptor's Studio as there is a ton of information about the process of turning this idea into a reality. There is also a hiking trail that gets you closer to the base that I'm sure is worthwhile.
After Mount Rushmore, we checked out Crazy Horse and Custer State Park. I'll be honest...I didn't know much about Crazy Horse before we drove through the entrance gates. We paid our $22 (!!!) entry and drove to the edge of the parking lot so I could take the below picture. We didn't even get out of the car! But, the monument is beautiful and the memorial foundation is used to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. If I were to go back, I would do Crazy Horse on a separate day so that I could spend more time in the museum and take a tour.
The last part of the day was spent in Custer State Park and driving along Needles Highway and the Wildlife Loop. Needles Highway is a 14 mile National Scenic Byway that takes you through tiny tunnels and winds around giant granite spires. The drive is absolutely beautiful!
Custer State Park is a 71,000 acre park that is home to an abundant amount of wildlife. Along the 18 mile Wildlife Loop Road we saw buffalo, mountain goats, pronghorn, and prairie dogs to name a few. The best part were the "begging burros". Fun Fact: the Custer State Park burros are not native to this area. They are actually descendants from the herds that once hauled visitors to the top of Harney Peak. Once the rides were discontinued, the burros were released into the park where they were allowed to live their remaining days. Because of this, it is actually okay to feed the burros! They will stand in the middle of the road to block traffic and go window to window begging for food. They are the cutest darn things but they certainly won't hesitate to stick their whole head into your car! The park also hosts an annual Buffalo Roundup (that we missed by one weekend) that sounds fantastic. Local cowboys and cowgirls will roundup and drive the herd of approximately 1,300 buffalo in the park.
Overall, this was a fantastic trip to share with my mom. We had a great time and I truly enjoyed getting to spending so much time with her! Please make time to do things like this with your family - they are memories you will share forever!