June 2018 – Exploring the Midwest

After a month of working a lot of RV shows, we were ready for a break in June.  Although we live full-time in our RV, and travel all over the US, we do actually work.  Most days we work from the RV for a few hours before exploring the area, but when we are at RV shows, it’s an all day thing and we have no time to do anything but work, eat, hang out for a couple of hours, and sleep.  Basically the same thing we used to do when we had “regular” jobs, but now it seems ridiculously excessive.

So we started June finishing up a show in Missouri, and then we headed west to catch a couple states we haven’t visited before.  In Oklahoma, we stayed at a beautiful state park called Natural Falls.  It was the setting for a book I love, Where the Red Fern Grows, and the park was beautiful.  Waterfalls, lush greenery, and large private lots made for a great week.  Next stop was in Kansas where we stayed at another great state park – Crawford State Park.  Our site was right by a lake and the park grounds were beautiful as well.  Eric got in a little fishing, and walked away eaten alive by chiggers.  He was not a happy camper, but we still had a good time overall.  After Kansas, we headed to Omaha, Nebraska for a business meeting.  We added a bookkeeper this month, and as the former “bookkeeper,” I can’t be more happy.  It is such a time-consuming task, and I’m not that great at it, so we are excited to pass off all financial matters to the Jaguar Group now.


After leaving Nebraska, we headed north to South Dakota to meet some friends.  We met Dianne and Gayle a few years ago at a rally and we hit it off immediately.  We’ve taken many trips with them and stayed at their house in Dahlonega a couple of times too.  We always have a blast with them and their 4 golden retrievers, and our time in South Dakota was no exception.

Our first stop was Wall, South Dakota where we visited Badlands National Park.  It was a pretty place with a lot of wildlife and plenty of heat.  While in Wall, we visited the iconic Wall Drug Store, which is now just a huge tourist trap.  Still, it was interesting to read the location’s history and see all the hundreds of signs lining the roads leading to Wall.  Basically, the entire town is centered around this location which began by offering free ice water to travelers in the area back in the 1930s.  You can read more about it here if interested.  

After spending some time in the Badlands, we traveled a little west to Rapid City, South Dakota to visit Wind Cave National Park, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, and more.  Our week began by visiting the Wind Cave National Park and we were able to take a tour of the cave.  We’d toured a cave before at Mammoth National Park, but this one was far better.  Eric especially enjoyed it since he was appointed the “caboose” of the tour and made sure nobody fell behind.  He felt so official.  It didn’t help that he had worn his “park ranger” hat that day and fit right into the position.  The cave was beautiful, but pictures never do a cave justice…unless you carry a fancy camera, which we don’t.  It’s the camera in our phones or nothing.


After Wind Cave, we took a day trip to Custer State Park.  We had read that we would see tons of bison and burros, but we only saw a couple.  After visiting Yellowstone and seeing TONS of bison and elk, we were a little disappointed.  It was a wet, muggy day so that maybe had something to do with it, but it was still a fun day overall.  We went a little off-road and got the Jeep muddy as hell, so that was fun.    You can read more about Custer State Park here.

After our day in Custer, we decided to visit the Mammoth Dig Site which was about 45 minutes away in Hot Springs, SD.  The story of Mammoth Dig Site is that in 1974, a man named Phil Anderson bought a piece of property to build a housing development on and while excavating for the build, he discovered some mammoth bones.  He quit the build, and turned the site into a non-profit where the bones are preserved and the dig site is as it was found over 40 years ago.  It was bizarre because they were not fossils within rock, but actually full bones the group was able to preserve in their original state found.  I believe they said there were over 60 mammoths found in the area, and they suspect there are more under level they stopped digging.  There were people actually there still digging on the site while we were observing.  It was very cool to see, and I recommend it if you are in the area.  To read more about the site, click here.


The weather in South Dakota while we were there was pretty overcast/rainy, so we saved the best weather day to visit Mount Rushmore.  A good weather day finally came, so we set off to see both Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore.  Crazy Horse is a huge carving in the side of a mountain that they have been working on for decades.  As of now, they only have the face done, but you can see evidence of future plans to finish.  Unfortunately, they work so slowly on the thing, I’m guessing we won’t see it completed in our lifetime.  There were several models of the completed carving on the grounds, and the amount of work left to complete it is enormous!  It was interesting to see, but nothing as awesome as Mount Rushmore was to us.


We waited until the afternoon to see Mount Rushmore because we wanted to stay for the lighting ceremony everyone told us about, which proved to be a good idea because there really weren’t many people there, and we had heard it was packed earlier that day.  We prefer late afternoon visits to tourists spots since most people are worn out by then and they begin to clear out.  The walkway to the monument was beautiful with all the state flags on display.  The monument itself isn’t huge, but still it was beautiful.  We made the walk up closer to the mountain, and headed to the amphitheater for the ceremony a little before dark.  The ceremony was informative and we were able to learn more about why the monument was built.  They had all veterans come to the stage and a few lowered the flag while they lit up the monument.  It was simple and not overdone, and was very respectful of our country.  I loved it!


We ended our month in Gillette, Wyoming at the Newmar Rally, which was very uneventful considering the weeks we had beforehand.  The Newmar Rally was our last one for a bit while we explore the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan coastlines before ending up in Indiana in August.

To see our pictures from June, click here: Eric and Tami’s June Google Photo Album.


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