July 2, 2012 – Fishing Wrap up

I bought a three-day fishing license, so was able to get out a bit – either in the morning before everyone got up, or after dinner when the day’s trips were over.

brook trout

Here’s a nice brook trout.

brown trout

I mostly caught Brown Trout, the biggest about 16 inches, which was plenty big for the creek.

castle creek

One view of Castle Creek below Deerfield Lake.

castle creek, black hills trout stream

A great hiding place for some trout.

The last day’s catch, not including an equal number which were released.  It was a great creek to fish.  There was little traffic – I didn’t see anyone on the creek, the fishing pressure is pretty light, based on the lightly used footpaths along the creek, and best of all, there was an old gravel road near, but not too near the creek, so I could fish until dark and not have to walk back along the stream.  There’s not much more satisfying feelings than walking with the coolness of the mountain air enveloping you, moonlight at your back, and gurgling stream in the distance and a fishing trip where the catching was as good as the fishing.

When I said I didn’t see anybody on the creek, it was technically incorrect.  When I drove up, there was a party parked on the bridge where the stream crossed the road.  They looked as though they had all the greatest gear – shiny new creels, fishing vests and fly rods – as though they had just stopped in Cabela’s in Rapid City.  However, the fact that they were fishing off the bridge in a shallow, fast-running part of the creek told me they had more disposable income than fishing sense!

July 1, 2012 – Badlands

The final stop on the trip was the badlands.

Emma in the magnitude that is the Badlands.

This is for Claire.  We have an old black and white photo from the same place, but I can’t locate it at the moment.

On the ladder on the Notch trail.

Emma taking the ladder.

Emma taking the ladder in years gone by.

A bit of the terrain of the trail.

It is a rather ethereal landscape, much like what walking on the moon might be like (sans the spacesuits).

At the end of the trail.

Yes, it was hot!

 

June 30, 2012 – Jewel Cave and Harney Peak

Since Wind Cave was such a hit, we decided to go see Jewel Cave as well.  Jewel is the 2nd longest cave in the world.

jewel cave

Since the caves are so close together, people often wonder about the differences between Jewel Cave and Wind Cave.  Wind Cave has the cool blow hole and seems more intimate – the passages are narrower and you seem more like you are in a cave.  In Jewel Cave, the passageways are much larger, most of the hike is on aluminum walkways, so you feel more distant and it’s a bit noisier, but the formation are much more varied and interesting than in Wind Cave.

jewel cave

This is from of one of the “wet” rooms in Jewel Cave.

jewel cave

More funky formations.

Then it was off for lunch and a hike starting at Sylvan Lake.  Let’s just say there was a great difference in attendance between visiting in March and the weekend before the 4th.  So, off to the trails to leave all the people behind.

Here’s our designated vacationers – we are now on 17 straight years of summer vacation!

Linda on the “trail” up the mountain.

More “trail” up to the peak.

A look down the trail, from near the top.

cathedral spires

Finally, nearing the top, the Cathedral Spires come into view.

In the distance is Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota, at 7242 feet.  This photo also shows the extreme fire danger, her it looks like about more than half of the trees are dead.  It won’t take much of a spark to light the place up.  It’s easy to see why the fire danger is “explosive” now and even outdoor smoking and BBQ grills are prohibited.

I happened on one of the most intriguing creatures I’ve ever seen on this giant thistle blossom.  It’s a Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth. It was as though some genetic engineers mixed up moth, bee, and hummingbird DNA and this was the result. It was only a bit smaller than a hummingbird, it flew like a hummingbird, but looked like a giant bee or a moth. It also had a very long proboscis.

June 28, 2012 – Mt Rushmore and Wind Cave

We made the All-American visit to Mount Rushmore – almost like a constitutional requirement when visiting the Black Hills. But I sure wish someone would tell me if the cost of entering in a car is a tax or a penalty for not walking in by foot.

It is a nice public space, much like a monument in Washington DC.

mount rushmore, mount rushmore flags

You travel through stone pillars with flags from each of the states.  There are usually four flags per pillar – if I had to be picky, I would have had each flag on its own pillar and make the walk longer.

The obligatory Rushmore replacement photo featuring Emma.

The same place as a toddler.

The obligatory photo featuring Martin!

Finally, the obligatory Rushmore ice cream.

The next visit was to Wind Cave, the 5th longest cave inthe world, named for the wind that blows through it. On the natural entrance – a hole only about as big as your head, the air is either blowing out or sucking in. This photo shows off the cave’s most prominent feature – boxwork.

More boxwork – this cave contains about 95% of the world’s known cave boxwork formation. It was nice to go underground for a bit to escape the heat.

Some more delicate cave features.

June 27, 2012 – A Cabin in the Valley

Here’s our home for the week – a cabin in a mountain valley tucked up in the Black Hills somewhere between Deadwood and Hill City.

The meadow in front of the cabin was appreciated as a buffer for possible fires that are in the area.

A view of the cabin from further away, showing the setting.  We have used the web site VRBO (vacation rental by owner) many times now and have never been disappointed in the accommodations.  There is enough room for two families to stay here and it is cheaper than two motel rooms – plus you get a full kitchen and all this space!

In the evening after the day’s activities are over, sitting on the front porch is a great way to pass the time.  Even though it was toasty during the day, because the cabin was over 5,000 feet in elevation, it was in the 50’s at night – a welcome relief.

Here’s the great room in the cabin.

June 26, 2012 – Road Trip!

Family vacation is here!  Family vacation is here!  We’re on our way to experience the West.  Our first stop is in Chamberlain South Dakota.

On the banks of the Missouri River, we stretch our legs after a long afternoon and early evening drive.

When heading west on I-90, I consider crossing the Missouri river to signify the beginning of the West.  After crossing the river, farm fields are rare and open range becomes predominant.