Saturday, June 21, 2008


Driving towards the Black Hills on Thursday, we left the arid sage lands behind and entered a lush, green world of tall prairie grass and trees. What a change! Creeks burble, songbirds warble, and bugs smash on the windshield.

We crammed a lot of excitement into two days at Game Lodge Campground (read our review here) in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We arrived in early afternoon on Thursday, set up Scoopy and fit in a short (very short) walk before an afternoon thunderstorm left loose.

The rest of the day was a washout - lightening and thunder, with rain alternating between heavy, very heavy, and soaking showers. No leaks in Scoopy this summer to be found and patched - sweet!

On Friday, we had a plan: get up early and be out walking before the afternoon clouds arrived, then drive the Wildlife Loop to see what fauna we could spot. We’d leave a visit to the nearby town of Custer until last, since it could be accomplished if rain returned in the afternoon.

What a beautiful morning! Not a cloud in the clear blue sky, with a slight breeze. We ate breakfast and took off along a paved hiking/biking trail that runs from Game Lodge Campground past the historic Game Lodge (top photo) and the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center, past the little Coolidge General Store, alongside a creek and on to Grace Coolidge Campground - a couple miles of stunning scenery, comfortable wood and stone historical buildings, and BISON!

Yes, two VW sized bison were the first major wildlife we spotted in the park, on what turned out to be a busy day for wildlife sightings. We were back from our walk and out on the 18 mile Wildlife Loop drive before noon, but the clear skies had become congested with puffy white clouds. We spotted, at close range, a large herd of grazing bison, pronghorn antelope, and “wild” donkeys (living in the wild, but so accustomed to visitors handouts that they practically demand them) - while the sky darkened and the wind picked up.

The last half of the loop was a bust for wildlife as our car windows streamed water. As we headed to Custer for lunch and groceries, we encountered this crazy scene left by the storm as it moved east through the town and the park - no, not snow, hail and icy water.

On the way home, a group of Bighorn Sheep caused a small traffic jam as they crossed the road. The afternoon was so dark that the camera flash went off, reflecting in their eyes… kinda’ scary looking!

Back at home, the weather radio showed a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for the rest of the afternoon. and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning blared around 5 pm, as the rain picked up and the lightening and thunder returned. For us, it was a display of nature’s wildness admired from the cozy interior of Scoopy - but we sure felt sorry for the many families camped around us in tents and tent trailers!

Saturday morning we packed up for the short drive to Rush-No-More Campground and a week spent relaxing with our Boomer RV group. As I write this, the setting sun is casting long shadows across the grass and trees while the crickets chirp. Today is the longest day of the year and here, in the Black Hills, it feels like summer vacation.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't that building in the background the Game Lodge where Calvin Coolidge stayed? A bit of trivia, Ron's mom
    used to have lunch with Calvin Coolidge when they both lived in Boston, MA. She had a millinery shop across the street from the Boston Commons back in the late 20's, early 30's and made hats for Rose Kennedy and other socialites of the period.
    Will be looking forward to updates on the Boomerang...

    Hugs, Sharon & Ron