Day twenty of our trip, last touring day, after Badlands National Park we will be making a straight line home and try to get back to New Jersey as soon as possible but today we still have beautiful places to visit.
We spent the night in Keystone at the Rushmore View Inn, next to the Grizzly Creek Gourmet Burgers & Spirit where the previous night I had dinner. Keystone is a small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota with a population of less than 500. We leave the motel and head to Peggy's Place, just a few hundred yards away, for breakfast. We have the usual fare, 2 eggs, bacon, home fries accompanied by toast and coffee. With our hunger satisfied, we hit the road and head up the hill towards Mount Rushmore.
Less than half a mile up the road we pull off when we see a perfect place to snap a few pictures of Mount Rushmore. The place is so perfect that we decided right there not to bother going into the park but continue up the hill going around the monument and continue our trip by going straight to Custer. The view from the highway is the same as from inside the park and we couldn't waste too much time anyway.
We go around Mount Rushmore on route 244 and continue south through the beautiful Black Hills ponderosa pines forest merging into route 385 south towards Custer. The town is generally considered to be the oldest established town and the "mother city" of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The site of one of the major encampments of the Black Hills Expedition of Brevet Major General (a largely ceremonial title, his official rank was Lt. Colonel) George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry in 1874. (Wikipedia)
We park our bikes near the Steaks & Ribs Place located in the "First National Bank of Dakota Territory" building. The Bank was established 8 years before South Dakota became a state. The exterior and interior of the building has remained much the same as it was originally. We spend some time walking around town admiring the old establishments. I love the little western towns, they appear so peaceful and much calmer than the busy and always rushing towns of the east coast.
We leave Custer and head east through Custer State Park on route 16 taking route 79 north towards Rapid City where we get on Interstate 90 and continue east towards Badlands National Park. We stop a little later in a place I cannot recall the name to rest and have a drink. I snap a picture of the local fauna and sit down to chat with a young lady, very shy, she didn't say much.
One of the most interesting creatures of South Dakota is a mythical animal of North American folklore, the Jackalope, a so-called "fearsome critter" described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers and sometimes a pheasant's tail. Jackalope legends are sometimes used by locals to play tricks on tourists.
We continue east reaching the entrance to Badlands National Park midday. I had been looking forward to visiting this scenic park because it's such a strange land, the rugged terrain offering spectacular views. I was in awe when we made our first stop. The almost unnatural landscape disappearing into the distance as far as the eye could see.
We continue down the road passing amazingly colorful rock formations as I continue to snap photo after photo of the almost lunar looking landscape. It's a very surreal scene and at the same time peaceful, the roads almost deserted with an eerily quietness.
We stop again a little later and I see a sign warning us of rattlesnakes, we didn't see any. It was a very hot day and it felt better whenever we were moving, we continue through the park stopping at the visitor center to buy stickers for our bikes and buy some cold bottled water.
We cover around 40 miles through the park and then return to Interstate 90 near Cactus Flat, we then proceed east now through the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Interstate 90 is pretty much flat and straight as an arrow. We pass Kadoka as we leave the Grassland.
The next 120 miles are uneventful and we make good time stopping for a late lunch at Al's Oasis Restaurant on the west side of the Missouri River near Oacoma town. There are a few restaurants and stores, an Old Trading Post and the First Dakota National Bank on site. The perfect rest area along Interstate 90 on the edge of the river.
We have a quick lunch and then hit the road crossing the Missouri River. The touring part of the trip being over, we were now in cruising mode as we were trying to cover as much ground as possible. We continue on I90 until Sioux Falls then take I29 south passing Sioux City later in the evening and then with the sky threatening rain we quickly find a motel in Sloan, Iowa and stop for the night.
We covered 535 miles of beautiful hills, forest, semi-desert and just plain out of this world land in the Badlands National Park. A long day but also a short day as there's always so much to see. A beautiful last day on the touring part of our trip, soon we will be home with the family but before we get home we still have to cover a little over 1300 miles and my brother's BMW needs a new tire.