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Posts Tagged ‘What to do in South Dakota’

Custer

And the Indian

 

An inch of time is an inch of gold, but you can’t buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.” — Chinese Proverb

Travels With Maggie

When it comes to portraying history accurately or making a living, Custer businessmen lean toward the latter, beginning with fudging on the actual site where gold was first discovered in the Black Hills to recreations of Bedrock, home of television’s Flintstones, at the city’s Bedrock theme park and campground.

The small city reminded me a bit of Hannibal, Missouri, which takes full advantage of its native, Samuel Clements, alias Mark Twain, to attract the gold of tourists. Custer, has a lot to exploit, beginning with its namesake, the ill-fated Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer to its beautiful location in the heart of the Black Hills.

Mr. Bear Jangles -- Photos by Pat Bean

You can read all about the Indian fighter and Black Hills history in the town’s Courthouse Museum. And just so you don’t forget to leave some gold behind, the museum has a convenient gift store where you can buy regional books and Custer Historical playing cards.

Outside, located on what the city call’s the country’s widest Main Street, are several large, funky sculptures, which I thought were one of the city’s most endearing attractions.

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Come journey with me through South Dakota for awhile as I relive my explorations of the state during the fall of 2008.

Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota, where research of these Ice Age animals is an ongoing activity attracting paleontologists from all over the world. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world.” — Thomas Huxley

Travels With Maggie

 Around 26,000 years ago a limestone cavern collapsed in what is now Hot Springs, South Dakota. The resulting sink hole filled with spring water and trapped over 50 Columbian mammoths and at least three wooly mammoths that couldn’t climb back up the steep banks of the pond. You can see the bony remains at the Mammoth Site.

Boneyard overview -- Photo by Pat Bean

Research and excavation work of these fossils, which were not discovered until 1974, continues today inside a permanent museum. A multi-level walkway encircling the still-partially buried bones makes viewing an easy task for visitors like me. And signs and a tour guide made the experience educational as well. .

My guide noted that all of the bones belonged to male mammoths, and mostly younger specimens. She speculated that they were probably young ones off on their own for the first time and didn’t understand the danger. It reminded me of the drowning deaths I covered yearly as a newspaper reporter. Almost everyone was a young male and an expert swimmer who had over-estimated his strength.

I found the correlation between then and now, and animal and human gender traits enlightening.

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While the beaver adorned the campground's welcome sign, rabbits were the main attraction at this quaint South Dakota campground. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Come journey with me through South Dakota for awhile as I relive my explorations of the state during the fall of 2008. 

 “The world has different owners at Sunrise … Rabbits and blackbirds have the lawns; a tortoise-shell cat who never appears in daytime patrols the brick walls, and a golden-tailed pheasant glints his way through the iris spears.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 Travels With Maggie

Maggie and I settled in for a week at the Beaver Lake Campground so as to have time to explore the nearby sights. Located three miles west of Custer in the eye of the Black Hills and just 25 miles from Mount Rushmore, this delightfully rustic campground couldn’t have been more perfect for my needs.

There were brown rabbits

And there were white rabbits

 There was also a waterslide, but since I was visiting after Labor Day, summer’s last hurrah, it was closed for the season. The friendly campground owners’ other family enticement, however, was still available for viewing. A colony of rabbits freely roamed the campground. The park owner said he wanted to provide something kids could enjoy watching and released a few. Of course you know what rabbits do.

 I guess I’m still a kid because I did enjoy the bunnies ‘ visits outside my RV, especially in the mornings when I sat drinking my cream-laced coffee while my sleep-in canine companion, Maggie, snored the morning away.

 Travel is all about knowing when to hit the road and when to stay put. Thankfully, I usually get this right.

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