A Drive and a Hike in the Black Hills.

Camped at Wind Cave National Park, August 7, 2014.

Taking a drive through Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park, which are right next to each other in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we came across our first buffalo (American bison) of the trip just after leaving the campground.

Buffalo, Wind Cave National Park, August, 2014

Scenic roads wind their way through the hills, picturesque bridges and through narrow tunnels.

Bridge, Wind Cave National Park, August, 2014

We were surprised to see these mountain goats in Custer State Park.  They are not native to the area.  Apparently, sometime in the early 20th century, there was a captive group of Canadian mountain goats in area, some or all of which escaped.  The mountain goats in the park are their descendants.  If this were a federal park, I believe that the goats would have been removed since they are not native to the area.

Mountain Goats, Custer State Park, South Dakota, August 2014

Mountain Goat, Custer State Park, South Dakota, August

A favorite short hike is the trail around beautiful Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park.  This was the third time we’ve done it.

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota, August 2014

While I had intended to have several posts drafted to be scheduled for publishing over the next several days, that didn’t happen.  One afternoon, evening and part of the next morning to try to catch up on groceries, wash the car, and check email, facebook, and blogs that I follow wasn’t enough.  We have just over an hour before checkout time. I still need to get a shower.  Stuff in the camper needs to be stowed and the car hooked up to the back of the camper.

We’re heading west for a new remote location with several days of precipitation.  All batteries have been recharged and Kindle loaded with new reading material.

Until next time….. Mike

critters, destinations, forest, hiking, lake, landscape, mountains, parks, photography, places, South Dakota, travel
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Wild Asses

I guess they’re actually burros, though, off-hand, I don’t know the difference.  If I weren’t sitting in a campground away from all cell service, I would look it up.  No Google here, though.

Wild Burros of Custer State Park, South Dakota, August 2014

Going from memory, it seems burros were once used in what is now Custer State Park in South Dakota to haul people up one of the larger peaks in the Black Hills.  At some point, the owner of the beasts released them for some reason, probably no longer economically viable.  The wild burros of Custer State Park are their descendants.

Wild Burros of Custer State Park, South Dakota, August 2014

We came across these critters on August 6th on a drive through part of Custer State Park after we had set up camp just south of there in Wind Cave National Park.

Wild Burros of Custer State Park, South Dakota, August 2014

Wild Burros of Custer State Park, South Dakota, August 2014

Wild Burros of Custer State Park, South Dakota, August 2014

Wild Burros of Custer State Park, South Dakota, August 2014

critters, landscape, mountains, parks, photography, places, South Dakota, travel, wildlife
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Reducing camping costs.

This year for our trip, we are going to save money on our camping fees. We prefer staying in federal or state campgrounds at parks, forests or lakes. Sometimes, though, there aren’t any of these where we are traveling.

2014-08-04 127 -1edIn the past, we used Kampgrounds of America (IKOA) as our fallback camping solution if none of our preferred type campgrounds were available.   With campgrounds all over the country , we’ve found KOA to be relatively dependable for our needs over the years.

(The horse sculpture in the photo is in the Four Aces Campground in Kinsley, Kansas.)

Now, though, I am fully retired and we need to watch our expenses a bit closer.  KOAs prices start at somewhere around $35, depending on location and can go quite a bit higher in popular areas.  That can add up, particularly on an extended trip.

Before we left on this trip, we joined Passport America.  The annual fee is $44.  The main draw, for us, is that campground fees at Passport America member campgrounds are 50% of their normal fee.  For instance, the fee for the campground in Kinsley, Kansas, our stop after visiting Fort Larned, is normally $38.  We paid $19.  That one stop recouped almost half of the annual fee.

Another way that we’ll be saving money camping is through The National Parks and Federal  Recreational Lands Pass.  Priced at $10, this pass is good for lifetime entrance to national parks and recreation areas and reduced prices for many amenities, including camping.  If we’d had the card at Kaw Lake, the camping fee would have been $9 instead of the $18 we paid.  With this kind of price federal campgrounds will be our preferred stops.

Some people will suggest stopping overnight at a Walmart or other big box store, a truck stop, or a highway rest area.

In all the time we’ve been camping, we’ve done that exactly once – at an I40 rest area in western Oklahoma.

We prefer to get a good night sleep.  Camping in a parking lot, whether it’s a Walmart, truck stop, or rest area won’t be restful for me.  That’s the only thing I have against that kind of overnighting on the way to somewhere.

Some images from Kinsley, Kansas:

Kinsley, Kansas - August 4, 2014

Kinsley, Kansas - August 4, 2014

2014-08-04 135 -1ed fine lines with coloation

We stayed at Four Aces Campground in Kinsley, Kansas on August 4th, 2014.

activities, camping, economy, Kansas, photography, road trip, travel
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Western Nebraska Images

From Kinsley, Kansas, on August 5th, we drove to North Platte, Nebraska, where we stayed at another Passport America campground.  The savings have almost paid for the cost of the annual fee.  While I lived in North Platte until I was 15, it’s been 47 years since I left and I have no connections there any longer that I know of.

On the 6th, we headed towards the northwestern Nebraska on our way to the black hills country of South Dakota.  The images below are from stops along the way, mostly in the sandhills, and a lunch stop at a park in Alliance, Nebraska.

 

Nebraska Sandhills, August 2014

Nebraska Sandhills, August 2014

Nebraska Sandhills, August 2014

Nebraska Sandhills, August 2014

Alliance, Nebraska - city park, August 2014

Alliance, Nebraska - city park, August 2014

Alliance, Nebraska - city park, August 2014

Alliance, Nebraska - city park, August 2014

Alliance, Nebraska - city park, August 2014

Lunch in Alliance, Nebraska - city park, August 2014

Nebraska, parks, photography, places, plains, road trip, travel
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Fort Larned, Kansas

We visited Fort Larned on August 4th.

Fort Larned, Kansas is typical of an 1860s Great Plains Army post.  It doesn’t have the stereotypical wall of sharpened upright logs so often seen in the movies. fort Most forts established on the Great Plains never had a wall of any sort. Direct attacks by plains Indians were rare, surprise attacks on smaller groups of soldiers being the preferred tactic.  In the 1860s, this part of Kansas was vast treeless plains, making construction of any sort of log wall very difficult.  Trees in this region were so rare that, for many years, fence posts were cut from limestone.

Fort Larned,  Kansas

Situated about 50 miles northeast of modern day Dodge City, Kansas, Fart Larned was 20 days travel along the Santa Fe Trail from the Missouri River steamboat landings at Independence, Missouri. For 60 years, the Santa Fe Trail was one of the most important trade routes in the world. Freight wagons could make the 781 trip – one way – in eight weeks, with luck, facing semi-arid prairies storms, flooded rivers, wildfires, dust, plagues of gnats and mosquitoes, mud, Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Apache.

Fort Larned,  Kansas

Most of the Army posts of the Great Plains are long gone, building materials often scavenged or sold after the post were closed.  Fort Larned was purchased for a local ranch, it’s buildings put to varied uses over the years.  The ranch family lived in the commanding officer’s home, shown below.

Fort Larned,  Kansas

According to the park ranger that we talked to, the family that owned the property welcomed visits by the local public.  Families would picnic on the parade ground.  Kids would even ride their bikes out from the nearest town. Many left inscriptions in the sandstone walls of the fort’s buildings.  While most were names or initials, many with dates, a few others had historical significance.

Fort Larned,  Kansas

How many today would understand who “Kaiser Bill” was?

destinations, history, Kansas, landscape, parks, photography, places, plains, recreation areas, tourism, travel
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