Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rapid City, South Dakota - Settling In

Our drive from Devil's Tower to the Rapid City area was only around 120 miles. We left the Belle Fourche Campground yesterday morning, August 21st and arrived at Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) in the early afternoon, after stopping at the Airport to pick up a rental car.

We planned to stay at the Ellsworth RV park and do our sightseeing from there - we would be in this area for about a week, seeing as much as possible and getting the Autopark brake fixed. In fact, while we were at Yellowstone I had set up an appointment with the Rapid City Chevrolet Truck Service Center to work on the issue.  I gave them the part number the place in Grand Rapids told me was needed and they had it on order. The plan was to take the Trek in on Thursday and they would do the work.

Because the RV park at Ellsworth AFB does not accept reservations, we just went over there in the hope they would have a vacancy. Well, this did not turn out as planned but, as with many other events in life, things worked out for the best anyway.

When we arrived at Ellsworth, a very uptight camp host launched into a 10-minute briefing that hammered the Base Commander's stance on safety and security. The briefing was very detailed and entirely verbal, and the host reacted belligerently when I suggested that written information would be helpful to refer to later. I was very surprised by his reaction... that guy needs to relax or he might blow a gasket! Anyway, we agreed to use the Overflow area that night on the chance a site would open up the next day. Ironically, and in contrast to the briefing’s focus on security and safety, the Overflow area is in a very unsafe environment - it backs up to an open field with very tall dry grass, which is just a fire waiting to happen in that hot, prairie-wind environment. It was like being parked on the edge of Hades... in a motor home with a 60-gallon fuel tank. Between the wind and the heat, it really was awful.  We were both quite relieved when the camp host called the next morning to say that a regular site would not become available for us that day. When he asked if we would stay another night in Overflow, on the chance something would open up the following day, I was happy to tell him we would find a campground somewhere else.

As it turned out, we found a wonderful little place called TeePee Campground & RV Park which is on the south side of Rapid City.  It is at least 4 degrees cooler than at Ellsworth and the staff are very helpful. True, we only have power and water hookups but this is not a big deal because the shower facility is close by and it's very clean and functional. So, for only $2 more a day than Ellsworth, we will spend a week at a friendly campground in a better location. And so things did work out for the best!

Once we got settled at the campground earlier today, Lynda and I drove into Rapid City to visit the Journey Museum.  This museum is set up as a journey through the history of the Black Hills, starting with the Native American creation stories, moving into the 2.5 billion years of history in the rock record with the geology exhibit, paleontology, archaeology, Native American inhabitants, and finishing up with the pioneers that traveled west. It really is an awesome place!  We could have easily spent a couple more hours there but we ran out of time. Nonetheless, I'm glad we visited the Journey Museum and I highly recommend this place if you visit the Rapid City area!

On our way back to the campground, we stopped off and had dinner at La Costa restaurant - we love Mexican food and it had been a long time since we've had any - it was delicious!

So we now have the rest of our week planned out, and we are going to be busy! Here's some of the things we expect to do over the next several days:  visit the Badlands National Park, go horseback riding, visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, see Mount Rushmore, get the Trek's Autopark brake fixed, visit the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, and see the Mammoth Site.

As you can see, we have a busy week ahead of us -stay tuned!

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