05 June, 2009

Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota, Some Buffalo, and Custer State Park

Road Trip, Day Six and Home

"Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam, and I'll show you a dirty house..."

I haven't thought of that in years, but a memory of my mom singing that to me when I was little just popped into my head as I was looking at the photos of our trip.

Our last night of camping--and the only night it didn't rain--was in Hot Spring, South Dakota. Our only reason for picking this town was so we could go to The Mammoth Site in the morning. The site is the world's largest mammoth research facility, and over 55 mammoths have been identified in the dig, along with the remains of giant short-faced bears, camels, and llamas. Yeah, camels and llamas in South Dakota; who knew?

We spent far more time at the exhibit than we planned; it was a very well put together museum, and the staff was great. You could even go down to the research labs, where people were working, and watch them through the glass. It was set up so you could ask questions through the window. Very cool

Because we were there for so long, we got a much later start back to Chicago than planned. Still, we decided to take the longer route through Custer State Park, which has a large herd of buffalo and other assorted critters...

...and some very twisty roads.

We stopped briefly in Rapid City to take a walk down the historic stretch, gawk at the architecture (including the Hotel Alex Johnson, on the National Register), and grab some lunch.
From there, it was 14 or so hours straight across on Interstate 90 to Chicago, non-stop. Fourteen very, very long hours through South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. The first leg of the trip was through a coffee-shop-free zone, or at least it seemed that way, so before leaving Rapid City we packed some iced coffees into the cooler for our later enjoyment. I know, it was a little pathetic. But a Venti Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice is so loaded with caffeine, it really does help you stay alert on the highway. Well, jittery at any rate.

And yes, those are Wisconsin cheese curds packed beside the coffee. Yummy! We were set for the road.


Tonia said...

Whoa! You took that photo of the buffalo? Too cool. I'm so city that I never thought of them just, ya know, hanging out and grazing like actual animals. The rest of your photos of the trip are fun, but the Real! Live! Buffalo! is my favorite.

Joanne said...

I was about ten feet away from the buffalo, but in the safety of the car, window only partially rolled down. It was grazing right alongside the road.