If I never drive the wildlife loop again, I may be ok! We headed out earlyish to catch breakfast at the hill city café before a day of driving several miles at slow speeds through the scenic black hills. The hill city café has moved to a buffet only style eatery! I’m not sure if this is due to covid, due to short-staffed-ness, or due to it’s just easier. Either way, it gives the people in front of me in line the opportunity to load up their plate with the remaining bacon. Nate is right on when it comes to buffets: people suck.
We headed out on needles highway, which is always a treat. Mom and I drove separately so I could find wi-fi for a work meeting I had to attend, so of course I was wasting brain power on keeping track of the time and where I could find at least a bar of service but better yet wifi so I can call in for this meeting at 2 p.m. with my dirty hair and sweaty clothes.
But until then, we checked out a couple of the custer state park lodges, which are just great. (we wanted to camp in custer but they were booked.) the air was cooler the higher we went (of course), and it was a nice reprieve from the hot we’d been experiencing. We stopped at a couple of overlooks, and I gotta say, wildlife bingo was pretty much a bust this year! I was about to give up because all we’d seen were a couple deer and a turkey, which I can see any old day wandering across my back yard. But, vindication when we drove past the prairie dog field! At least we say some p-dawgs. Then I managed to see some burros from afar, and then the coup de grace! A bison herd! That was pretty great despite the idiot drivers who couldn’t figure out how to move off the road to get their pics. And those who got out of the car! Good grief.
(as an aside, there were also bicyclists on the road, like riding in a race or something. So you had people driving 10 mph across a straight road with nothing happening on the wildlife front, bicyclists, people driving jeeps who didn’t know that a cattle grate wouldn’t hurt their giant tires, and in the middle of it all, mom and I just kept complaining about it to each other hahahahahahha.)
So, no more wildlife loop. At the end of the loop, I had to find wifi, and luckily, we stopped at the visitors center, and down the road was the game lodge, where I set up camp for an hour, eating dessert and zooming in to this meeting using their wifi. I left a $14 tip on a $22 bill.
We finished up the drive through iron mountain road, with the pigtail bridges and the tunnels that looked out on mount rushmore. The road back to camp took us through hill city, so we stopped for a bit to check out the shopping there, which was pretty mediocre for me, but mom found a couple things she was looking for.
Then I decided, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and after seeing a bunch of junky trump paraphernalia, I broke down and bought a Sturgis hat. At least it looks pretty! And if nate had a bike, I’d probably go to Sturgis too. At least once.
Got back to camp and I decided that just 2 days in the hills is just not enough. You need at least one more day to just putz around. We smashed a lot of stuff into two days! We wrapped up the day by burning four bundles of firewood because why not. Then of course there were winds that night, and the fire we’d put out had popped back up. Luckily, my mom was up and around and saw it. (by up and around I mean we’re in a tent and if you have to use the bathroom in the night, well, it’s off to the vault toilet with you.)