Leaving Chicago...let the adventure begin!

We are full!!


Dropped Lyle off at the trainers! 11 am.

Have fun Lyle! Be all trained when you get home 😂

I-90, Beloit, WI 53511, USA

State #2

Ehlenbach's Cheese Chalet Inc

Jamie: (at seeing the parking lot a little empty) I wonder if anyone’s in there?

Jon: would you go into a cheese shop?

Jamie: Yes! I’m not you.

Cow abstract (photo cred: Jon)

Now we’re in the Wisconsin know

US-14, Dakota, MN 55925, USA

State #3 Minnesota

Crossed the Mississippi... jons first comment “now we are west of the Mississippi. Now radio stations start with K.”

Dairy Queen Store

Time for fuel for the car and body. Albert Lea, MN

Welcome to Minnesota State Sign

And... state #4. South Dakota.

Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews

Made it to Sioux Falls SD for the night. Getting dinner to take back to the hotel.

And back at the hotel to watch the last episode of Wanted on Netflix.

The World's Only Corn Palace

The World’s Only Corn Palace. Yep. Outside: really cool. Inside: meh. But free! Zoom in pictures to see corn detail.

Chamberlain SD Rest Area facility

This is the Dignity statue at a rest stop. 2014 it was gifted to SD for the states 125th anniversary of statehood.

There was a path that went somewhere mysterious... and apparently dangerous.

So naturally we followed it.

Missouri River. No station call signs associated with this river so it’s not that important.

Wall Drug Store

Wall Drug. I’d never heard of it. Apparently I’m the only one. The second you get into South Dakota you start learning about it from the Wall Drug signs on the side of the road that appear every few miles. By the time the exit came I was feeling pretty pumped. It’s touristy for sure but I really liked it. Favorite things: The book store (we bought some books for the grandkids), the little chapel, lunch (hot beef sandwiches and a maple doughnut), and I LOVED a huge photography gallery of photographs by John A. Anderson from the late 1800s. It was awesome!

Comanche Park Campground

Made it to camp. Comanche Park campground in The Black Hills National Forest. We actually have the best spot! It was a total fluke that I ended up with this spot. Funny story. We had a reservation for 2 nights at a KOA cuz that’s all we could find. And then I found a reservation at another National Forest campground for the remaining 3 nights. The site was located right near the road which wasn’t ideal but desperate times. Then one day I was looking and a site came up in Comanche for the KOA dates so I booked that since we didn’t want to be at the KOA. It was site 29. Then I look again and site 29 opened up for the next 3 days! Amazing! So I booked it and now we are in the same campground, same site the whole time. And it’s a really good one. Only drawback is the bathroom is near us but that’s not totally a drawback Lolol. Picture time. Setting up the tent:

First timers. It took us an hour and 45 min cuz we had a lot to learn and we had to get the rain vestibule on and the mudroom. We will be a lot faster next time.

View from our bedroom and our campsite:

First meal! (Sloppy joes)

Black Hills National Forest

We woke up this morning (early) and realized we had survived our first night! Brilliant! Jon made breakfast:

We decided to hit Rushmore early because it was going to be 90 degrees today. I liked Rushmore. I don’t think Jon did. He was mostly frustrated at the lack of masks and social distancing going on (it was disturbing) and I think he’s anti-Rushmore anyway and doesn’t think it’s that cool. I actually thought it was super cool and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Though I don’t like that we did it on sacred NA land and I totally would be for it not being there. But I’m so glad I got to see that area because it was breathtaking.

Obligatory pictures:

We took a path and got to look up the Presidents’ noses:

And my fav pic, entitled “George:”

We drove to Rapid City after that to try to find Jonyag a better sitting chair. He had his first trip to Cabelas! After, we ate at ¡Que Pasa! Because we saw a sign yesterday that said “Mexican food so good, Trump would want to build a wall around it.” Well, come on. How could we not go???

These were pretty good. Other than that, they do not need to worry too much about that wall...

Jon suggested we go see Crazy Horse Monument on our way home. That turned into a highlight. We saw a sign that for a donation of $125 each they will take you to stand on the arm of the sculpture. Heck yeah!

This is the finger pointing out. This is what it will eventually look like... but most likely not in my lifetime: (first picture is from today)

It was Foil dinner night. I didn’t love my foil dinners so I’ll spare showing the pic. But this ugly thing???? The desert face only a mother could love?? It was delish! A banana cut open and smothered with brown sugar, Nutella, pecans, cooked for 10 min and then a packet of vanilla pudding on top haha. Overload?? Nope!

One thing you can say about Jonyag is that the guy does his homework. And he purchases things. I guess that’s two things. Therefore, this little beauty enhanced our evening by helping us get clean! It’s a legit shower and it works so much better than I thought it would! Felt so good!.

Custer State Park

Day 3 of camping. Survived another night. Jon said I must have had a nightmare cuz I was yelling in my sleep haha. Sorry, Jon. I don’t remember anything. We were up by 5:30 and got out by 6:30 to head to Custer park where we drove the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway. They say it takes 2-3 hours. It took us over 5. But we saw some cool stuff along the way.

This is all part of the needle highway. At one point you “thread the needle” (drive through a one lane tunnel-see video)

Custer Park is known for its wildlife. We found the buffalo (and some prairie dogs)

After our long drive we went and got pizza at The Pizza Mill and took it to a town park in Custer and ate it in the back seat while watching iron man.

Then to get pie...(blackberry for me)

We tried to take a nap in our tent in the afternoon but 🥵 so instead we drove to Hill City and then on to Bear Country USA, a drive through animal place, \240which was a mistake. I will now be forever depressed about the animals living there. We saw elk, bighorn sheep, lots of bears, a sad wolf, some buffalo, etc. Don’t go there. I didn’t take many pics but here they are

Scratching his bum:

Afterward, we drove to Rapid City to get better pillows and dinner which turned out to be outback in the back seat finishing iron man haha.

Not much camping today but we know we have the skills so we don’t have anything to prove. 😜

Day 4 of camping? Maybe day 3... anyway we have turned our vacation into a driving vacation. Put a million miles on the car but we’ve seen a lot. Today we went to Badlands National Park which we passed right by on Thursday and will pass again on Tuesday... we planned our trip so well. But it was super cool. It’s a bunch of sedimentary rock formations that have formed from erosion. The main Badlands bypass is on the North side and is the one most people drive. Jon wanted to go to the South but it’s on the Pine River Reservation which is closed due to Covid. So we did the main route. The beginning was super busy but as we kept driving the crowds thinned out a lot. People can hike all over the rocks and there’s a gazillion fossils, supposedly. Pics:

As you can see, we ran into bighorn sheep and pronghorns. It was pretty spectacular.

The drive led us straight into Wall, SD right at lunchtime so we grabbed another hot beef sandwich at Wall Drug. We then decided to drive up into the North part of the Black Hills to a town called Deadwood that’s supposed to be old westerny. It was a mining town and the history seems to be “colorful” characters of ill repute: gamblers, prostitutes, drinking. Wild Bill and Calamity Jane were the most notorious citizens. The Main Street is super cute but basically 50% casinos with stupid tourist shops thrown in. So basically its present hasn’t changed much from the past. We didn’t last long on Main St so went to see a cemetery that has all the reputable and non reputable characters from the late 1800s-early 1900s buried there (including Bill and Jane). It was really pretty and hilly... we got some exercise in there.

View from the top.

We drove back to Rapid City and went to Scheel Sporting Goods for the 2nd time in 2 days looking for something to use as a rain cover for our picnic table. We are gonna try to McGyver something tomorrow. As creatures of habit, it was back to Outback for take out and we finished watching Iron Man in our car. We drove back to camp and got here just in time to build a fire and journal before bed. We are both wiped out.

Night, all.

Hill City

Last day here! We slept in a bit this morning after a spectacular thunder storm almost the entire night. It poured but not a drop got in to us. Our tent is pretty much the greatest. Jon has done an outstanding job of putting camping equipment together for maximum comfort. Favorites: tent

Our bed mats and the shower/shower pop up

Jon made breakfast

And then we went to ride the 1880 Train from Hill City to Keystone and back.

It was about an hour each way and very pretty but one way would definitely be enough if you didn’t need to get back to your car. We ended up having to face a lady on the train back, they were from IA and her husband was wearing a NRA shirt so we were surprised when she put on a mask because she wanted to make us feel more comfortable. So appreciated that!

After training we went back to Custer to have lunch at a place called Custer Wolf, recommended to us by Allison Goodworth. We were shocked to see all employees in masks and sticking to a 25% socially distanced occupancy. They might be the only ones in all of SD. Jon thanked the server for it and tipped well haha. We washed the car

(AKA Jon washed the car) and then drove back to the campground to begin a pre-pack up so the morning will go quicker. A quick shower and then hang around the fire for a bit till Mike and Kristen show up for dinner. A mostly packed-up camp:

Mike and Kristen Kroes came to SD today so we were able to meet up and go to dinner. We went to the Purple Pie Place.

Kristen is sporting a pie on her head. It was so fun to see them and can’t believe it worked out! Feels like a long time since we’ve seen family. They went to Hill City to stay and we headed back to the camp ground where we built another fire. Our real last fire. It was supposed to rain. 80% chance.

It’s probably some of the nicest weather we’ve had haha. Beautiful!!

Popcorn time! It took a lot of work and time. Good job Jon!

And good night...