Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Wed 5/31/2017
Arrived home Tuesday afternoon after a long day on the road.  It was a long trip and we had a great time but it is good to be back home.

Final tally: 7,529.7 miles, 165.27 hours of driving, 757 gal of gas used, 9.9 mpg, 12 states visited, and 1 bucket list item done.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

Today we drove from Grand Island,  NE to Jefferson City, MO.  It was a nice, sunny day with temps in the 70s.  We stayed on the back roads most of the way to avoid traffic.  Saw lots of nice countryside and many cemeteries decorated with flags. Tonight we are camped by the Osage river which is about 8 feet above normal level because of all the recent rain.

Heading East

Sunday May 28
Had a nice drive today from Custer, SD to Grand Island, NE.  Stayed on the back roads driving south from Custer to Alliance, NE. In Alliance we took Hwy 2 to Grand Island.  It was a very nice road, almost no traffic and nice scenery.  There are hills in  Nebraska!

 Most of our drive was in rolling hills with lots of small lakes and rivers.  One small lake was almost covered in Snow Geese, another was full of Pelicans.
Pond filled with Snow Geese
 Saw a couple of interesting freight trains, one was carrying propellers for wind turbines and another was carrying large airplane fuselages.

This was the most interesting trip across the plains I have experienced.

KOA Grand Island, Nebraska

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wind Cave

Sat May 27, 2017
Our last day of sightseeing before heading back, we headed for Wind Cave National Park about 20 miles south of our campsite. It was a nice morning but still cool with temps in upper 40s.

The cave gets its name from the wind that rushes in and out of the cave when air pressure changes.
The first know entrance was a small hole only about 16 inches in diameter which can barely be seen behind the ranger in the picture below.
Like Jewel Cave, Wind Cave is a dry cave but for some reason never developed the crystals layers on the walls like Jewel Cave did. What did develop were these thin, intricate, plate formations called boxwork formations.  They were formed when the limestone rock cracked and sediment filled the cracks and hardened into rock less prone to erosion than the limestone. So when the limestone was eroded away by acidic water it left these box like creations.

These layers show a cross section of the boxworks

This cave is riddled with cracks and passages in every direction. Almost like being inside a giant sponge.

One of the few large chambers we were in, mostly just narrow tunnels. Notice the honeycomb appearance.
 Wind Cave has about 169 mapped miles but they estimated that is only about 10 percent of it based on volume of wind that goes in and out of the cave.  Not the prettiest cave I have visited but interesting nonetheless.

Above ground in Wind Cave National Park
 We revisited part of Custer State Park on our return to camp and saw this antelope doe and two fawns.

Tomorrow we start heading homeward with no planned stops but will keep our eyes out for anything interesting.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Custer State Park

Fri May 26, 2017
When our camp host suggested we go to Custer State Park we did not pay much attention since all he talked about was the bison there and we had seen plenty of bison in Yellowstone and T Roosevelt NP. We were planning to go to Badlands National Park today but decided we did not want to drive that far so decided to just drive around the Black Hills instead. Custer State Park was close so we started there thinking the 18 mile scenic loop would not take long.  It started out like a typical state park with some hills and trees and lakes and I am thinking, "Ok, not bad, but probably not worth the $20 admission."

Then we started climbing in the bigger hills with some nice views.
Great Plains can be seen in the distance
 Saw a few wild flowers and wild turkeys.

 Then we came to some open grasslands, where there were lots of bison, some antelope, some burros, and lots of prairie dogs.

 Then we started back into the mountains and started noticing all these interesting rock formations in
an area called the Needles.

Yoda enjoys the view he does

 Soon we were actually driving through them.

Notice the road going into the rock

Lots of rock stacks that looked like they could fall at any time.

A climber on the formation pictured above and below

There are several one lane tunnels we had to drive through.

A varmint called a marmot
 This was also one of the narrowest, crookedest roads I have ever driven. As we left the Needles we came to Sylvan Lake, a small lake on top of the mountain.

Behind the rock slabs on the right is a steep mountain valley.

So our short drive ended up taking us 4 1/2 hours. By the time we finished it gotten very cloudy and cold so we headed back down the mountain to get some lunch.  After lunch it was raining so we headed back to camp. So if  you find yourself in the Black Hills of South Dakota Custer State Park is worth a stop.