As I stated in my last post I was going to go canoeing with my brother on Friday, Aug 29th, which actually was my last day of work but since I had turned in my laptop there really wasn't a good reason to go in. So my manager and section manager said take some permission morale time. So I did. Last day of work I went canoeing. I met my brother at his house and we loaded his canoe on the top of SUV, the paddles and some light gear. We drove to our take out point a few miles down from where we would put the canoe in, then we drove to the put in and unloaded.
Ready for a good paddle
Our first log jam
We made it to the take out
We got started and were making some good progress when we came upon ad huge log jam that caused us to do a portage of about 100 yards around the jam. We got going again and a couple more miles down the river we encountered another jam. This time we had a short portage but through a field of itch weed. I hadn't been in that stuff since I was a kid on the Mississippi River. Anyway we made it through and soaked our legs in the cool water until the itching was tolerable. We continued our journey and came across one additional jam, a couple of step over logs and finally made it to our take out. We calculated the mileage and figured we had done about 13 miles. About 5-6 miles more than we anticipated. We started out with some light rain and clouds but ended with a nice sunny day. I hadn't done that much paddling for a long time and was a little sore for a couple day after.
Then it was time to make our way to South Dakota to get our licenses and residency. We left our rig at Kamp Komfort on Sunday Aug 31 and made out way to our overnight stop in Sioux Falls, SD. We stayed in a nice Quality Inn and Suites. The next morning as we were eating breakfast we saw some pamphlets about Falls Park. Falls Park is actually in the downtown area of Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Dakota. It is the county seat of Minnehaha County. The history of Sioux Falls revolves around the cascades of the Big Sioux River. The falls were created about 14,000 years ago during the last ice age. The lure of the falls has been a powerful influence. Ho-Chunk, Ioway, Otoe, Missouri, Omaha (and Ponca at the time), Quapaw, Kansa, Osage, Arikira, Dakota, Nakota and Cheyenne people inhabited the region previous to European descendants. Numerous burial mounds still exist on the high bluffs near the river. The inhabitants maintained an agricultural society with fortified villages on many of the same sites that were previously settled. Lakota populate urban and reservation communities in the contemporary state and many Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, and other Indigenous Americans reside in Sioux Falls today. It was a short drive from the hotel to Falls Park. What a great side trip to start our SD adventure.
Rock formations leading to the falls
Looking up stream
One of the falls
The large lower falls
We spent about an hour just walking around on the rocks, going to different vantage points to view the falls and listening t the rushing water. What a beautiful state.
We continued our journey and stopped at a rest stop near Chamberlain, SD which had an incredible view of the Missouri River. The Missouri River is the largest and longest river in the state. South Dakota can generally be divided into three regions: eastern South Dakota, western South Dakota, and the Black Hills. The Missouri River serves as a boundary in terms of geographic, social, and political differences between eastern and western South Dakota, and the geography of the Black Hills differs from its surroundings to such an extent that it can be considered separate from the rest of western South Dakota. South Dakotans also at times combine the Black Hills with the rest of western South Dakota, and refer to the two resulting regions, divided by the Missouri, as West River and East River.
View of the Missouri River
Close up of bridge across
We made our way on across this great state and stopped for a short rest in Wall, SD. The home of the famous Wall Drug store. There were numerous signs for about 200 miles before getting to Wall Drug so we had to stop.
Interesting place to stop....typical tourist trap.
We finally made it to Box Elder, SD and our mail forwarding service location. Americas Mailbox is our mail forwarding service and they have 3 rooms that can be rented when in the area or for first timers like us so we could get a receipt to prove we stayed in South Dakota at least one night which qualified us for residency and getting our SD drivers licenses. The rooms are nice, like a hotel room, and near the licensing facility. We found a Quaker Steak and Lube and had some dinner. The next morning we took our documentation - birth certificates, marriage license and social security cards along with the receipt to the licensing facility. Within 25 minutes we were residents and had our drivers licenses.
Ok....I look like I should be on a wanted poster, I know
They said look at the blue dot, so I did. They didn't say smile, so I didn't. Oh well. It could have been worse.
We then set out to see some of the sights of the Black Hills. We drove the State Road 385 and then headed to Custer State Park. We were ready for some wildlife. We checked in at the gate and paid our 7 day fee. (We only were there for 2 days but that is the shortest they have) We got some directions and a map. Then we headed to the wildlife loop. For the first few miles all we saw was one prairie dog near the side of the road. We passed it before we could get a photo. then we happened upon a group of cars along the road so we knew there was something to see. It ended up being a few donkeys that folks were feeding. They would actually put their heads in the car windows if they were down.
That was fun but we were on a mission to see some REAL wildlife....like Buffalo so we continued on. Down the road a short way we saw some buffalo in the distance.
Pretty far off to see well...just wait
Then we saw a car take off on a side road from the main loop. There was a sign ta said "open to public" so we followed....so glad we did. We came across another heard not too far off on our right. So we stopped the car and to our surprise they were walking toward us. This is what we came to see. They kept coming closer and closer and then they were right next to our car. Glenda got a little spooked thinking they might come right over looking for food but they didn't pay any attention to us and walked right on by.
Here they come
Right by us
Right next to us
What amazing animals. So gentle looking but so powerful too. This is what I think of when I think of America and how the west was won. After they passed by we turned around and continued on the main road when we came upon a second group of buffalo that were on the road.
Our wildlife experience was complete
You would think that there wouldn't be much more to see in the Black Hills after that but we then headed to the Needles Highway.
Needles Highway is located in Custer State Park and is 14 Miles in Length on SR 87. It features Black Hills scenery including; granite spires, the Needles Eye, narrow tunnels and hairpin curves. Needles Highway passes beautiful Sylvan Lake.
Too bad we didn't have time to rent a kayak and do a short paddle. Too little time and too much to do. We will, of course, be back. That was a pretty full packed day but we weren't finished yet. We drove over to Mount Rushmore to get a quick peek at the Presidents.
Again, we didn't have time to stop and go into the park. So I snapped a couple of photos. Then we headed back to our room at the mail forwarding service. That was an eventful and long day. We had a light dinner at McDonalds and retired (I like the sound of that word) to our room for the evening. We had a big day planned the next day. Sept 3rd would be our last day of sightseeing. So I will leave that day for my next post. Wow...kind of feels like vacation. A lot going on for the next month so it will take some time to slow down. So far it's been fun. That's how we roll.