Friday, September 17th

After last night’s shenanigans, we ended up getting up a bit later then we had expected, so we got on the road a bit late, headed off towards Mount Rushmore.

We had been discussing taking more scenic routes and feeling free to detour whenever we felt like it to find great places like Canistota, so while I was driving, I saw signs for 1880 Town. In need of gas and a bathroom, I got us there. We ended up taking a tour of this Western ghost town, where parts of Dances with Wolves was filmed, and which now houses many of the props from the film.
Right next to the town is a 50’s Train Diner, where we decided to pop into and grab a quick bite. It was not what we were expecting, but not bad.

We got back on the road and headed towards the Badlands and Rushmore. We were able to get our Disability Access passes at the Badlands to allow us free access to the National Parks. The Badlands were absolutely amazing. Truly beautiful and frightening. I could imagine getting lost in them, at night, and plummeting to my death from some quick drop off. I definitely want to go back there and spend a week camping out and exploring this wonderful area. With a sighted person, so that I don’t die. Who’s in?!

As we left the Badlands and headed towards Rushmore, we noticed it started to get darker really quickly. We didn’t think much of it because the monument is lit up at night until 8, but as we got closer and closer, a fog rolled in on the area. We decided that we would get to our campsite and then catch Rushmore in the morning as we head off towards Cody, WY.

I had reserved a Kozy Kabin at the KOA near Mt. Rushmore several weeks ago, so we headed off to find it. We spent about an hour trying to actually find the campgrounds. Our newly acquired GPS has a tendency to tell us to take roads that don’t exist. We got a bit lost and were driving along this mountain road, passing groups of deer grazing near the road. And the fog was getting thicker. We were concerned that this road was not leading to any kind of campsite or completely away from civilization. We were beginning to get really worried that we were in a very bad situation after about 20 minutes of driving on this less than safe road, when we saw a lighted sign. It was like coming out of a very dark tunnel, and as we neared it I could make out what it said, “Holiday Inn Express.” We had taken the long way around to get to the town of Hill City, where our KOA was.

It still took us a bit to get through Hill City to the KOA, but when we did, we fund it wasn’t your normal KOA; it was a resort KOA. There was like a little town that was just KOA. Restaurant, convenience store, coffee shop, pizza place. It was super cool. And our Kabin! We got there to find a dorm room sized cabin with just enough room to fit the five of us in it and five beds to sleep in.

We grabbed dinner at the Ponderosa right on the property, owned by a guy named Justin!, and then we hit the hay for Rushmore in the morning.