Friday, May 29, 2015 – Broken Bow Horse Campground, Custer, SD
So this morning I really needed to do some laundry. The boys were already running out of clothes and so were we. I headed to the campground laundry and the guys went to town for breakfast (it is Friday!!) and hopefully to visit the County Courthouse Museum in downtown Custer. (The Courthouse Museum was closed so instead they visited the Four Mile Old West Town on the west side of Custer).
When they returned we decided to head to Sturgis, SD. While looking at the map I realized we would pass through Deadwood on our way. This part of the trip was quite interesting. We didn’t realize we would travel to a higher altitude and the closer we came to Deadwood the fog began to set in. The temperatures dropped about 10-15 degrees and the town was in a haze as we drove through. I’m afraid we didn’t really see enough of Deadwood to make a determination on what the town was like. They were redoing a large section of their main road which made for a slow drive through the downtown area. There seemed to be a lot of traffic so we were just glad to get through it and down the other side of the mountain on the way to Sturgis.
On the way up the mountain to Deadwood.
Even though it’s not even near the famous Bike Week in Sturgis, we wanted to see what was so special about this town that has become famous for its almost overnight growth in population during August. Well, Sturgis is like most small communities. It was a bit bigger than we thought it would be but had some nice homes, with lots of beautiful trees – especially various pines. The difference between Sturgis and most communities its size are the number of LARGE, and I MEAN LARGE biker bars. One of them boasted they were the largest biker bar in the world. This particular one also had a really great metal motorcycle and rider mounted on a pole in front of the bar (see pictures below). It was pretty awesome. There were several tattoo parlors and t-shirt shops such as you would find where a lot of memorabilia is sold where events such as the Sturgis Bike Rally are held.
Hard to believe this many people show up to this small community during bike week.
Loved this metal sculpture in front of the biggest biker bar. See the bar, Full Throttle Saloon, below.
Other than a quick stop at McDonald’s we just did a drive through around Sturgis before we headed to Rapid City.
I wish we had more time to spend in Rapid City. I would guess it was larger than Joplin, MO and the downtown was “BUSTLING” with people. It was nearing noon as we left Sturgis so I turned to my favorite app while traveling, Trip Advisor for a recommended place to eat lunch. We prefer to eat in local restaurants as opposed to chains while traveling. One that caught my eye was the Firehouse Brewing Co. We found the location pretty quick but there was no parking available nearby. We parked about 2.5 blocks away and walked over. It was a bit chilly and windy and I wish I had dressed a little warmer as we made the walk over to the Firehouse. The restaurant was located in the former Rapid City Firehouse and included a brewery. It was a very interesting building and displayed quite a bit of fire memorabilia, however the food was only average at best. One of the interesting things about the downtown area was the many life size statues placed on every corner. Most of these were of Presidents of the United States. To date all President’s except Obama are located in downtown Rapid City and upon his term of office being completed his too will be added. I was able to get pictures of a couple of President’s that we passed to and from the vehicle. It was just too windy and cool to walk around and look at the others although I would have enjoyed doing so. It’s just another reason to return to this area someday.
I'm not sure what Tucker was trying to get away from!
Firehouse Brewing Company where we had lunch. Loved the fireman on the side of the patio wall.
Jimmy Carter - they were on the two corners nearest the Firehouse. It was too cold to go around to the others and get pictures. Maybe next trip.
Following our meal we headed to the Air and Space Museum located just outside the entrance to Ellsworth Air Force Base on the east side of Rapid City. This was one of Tucker’s picks of places to visit. It was very interesting seeing all of the various aircraft related information on the museum located inside of the large barrack area, along with their gift shop. Outside were numerous types of aircraft that have been used by the Air Force over the years. Almost all had a brief explanation of their use within the Air Force.
At this point I have to tell you about a problem we have been having with sleeping arrangements during this trip. The boys are sleeping on a blow up mattress that is part of our couch. It’s the first time anyone has used it and we discovered it is losing air during the night. When I get up in the morning they have both rolled to the middle of the mattress and are nearly laying on the bars that are holding it in place. Dean suggested we stop at Wal-Mart when we left the Air & Space Museum to see if we could purchase a new mattress for the bed. Neither of the boys wanted to stop because there were still two stops they wanted to make before we returned to Custer. So that’s what we did, drove right past Rapid City and on down the road to Reptile Gardens. You know this had “boy” written all over it with all kinds of snakes, turtles, alligators, lizards, etc. We made it in time to watch the snake show. It gave me the creeps but they really enjoyed it. We toured the cages inside and seen every type of snake I ever want to see and I’m just thankful they were not in the open.
From the Reptile Gardens we traveled a mile or two down the road to Bear Country USA. This was well worth the money we paid. We saw elk, bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, artic wolves and another type of wolf, mule deer, and bears. It was interesting as we drove toward the bear area how the bears would walk back and forth along the roadway where large cattle crossings were installed to prevent the animals from entering each other’s space. A few paced back and forth at this crossing over and over and never turning away or trying to cross. Not much of a life and I did feel a bit sorry for them. However as we watched the other bears I was somewhat entertained as they tried to scratch their backs on tree trunks, both on the ground and still standing, rolling the grass and chasing each other.
But they were nothing compared to the baby bears in an enclosed area that we were able to walk around. Oh my gosh they were adorable. They would climb this small tree within their compound and then try to knock each other out of the tree. They chased each other around and around, under a large tree trunk and then around and around again. It was just like watching the boys playing when they were younger. So funny. Unfortunately my phone died and I was unable to get pictures of this.
We headed back to Custer when we finished at Bear Country. It was getting late and we were all tired so we decided to try out a restaurant downtown called “Buglin’ Bull Restaurant & Sports Bar”. The food was better than average but not excellent. Logan had the most interesting meal of the evening with a pizza that included buffalo, duck, pheasant and elk. Logan really liked it and Dean also thought it was pretty good. Tucker built his own pizza with Canadian bacon, pineapple, mushrooms and black olives and was very pleased with it. I don’t really remember what Dean and I had. While it was good, again I would just give it an average.