Yesterday was a great day in South Dakota! We left the park at about 8:30 am and headed north toward Mt. Rushmore. We crossed into Wind Cave National Park just north of Hot Springs and along the way, observed numerous buffalo, several antelope, and a host of small wildlife. At Custer City we left US385 to follow SD244 east to the park. It was a very secnic drive and we stopped several times for pictures. We paused at a small lake along the road to walk a bit and to let Muffie stretch and get some air.  As we came over a rise nearing Mt. Rushmore we were greeted by a view of George Washington, through the little window in the rock wall. It was breathtaking and caused us to pause for several minutes before continuing on to the monument. There is a parking area located just right to view this sight and it was quite busy with cars and two tour busses.

We soon arrived at the memorial and to our great pleasure, we found that the discount card given us by the SD Parks gained us free access into the park, where the Golden Age Pass for national parks does not.  The fee is only $11 per car so not expensive, but such things are really nice to receive for volunteer workers.

Once inside we found multilevel parking structures and even so early in June there werre many visitors there. We used the elevator to access the visitor level and were soon on the marble walkway to the base of the monument. The visitor center does a good job of telling the story of this wonderous work of art that so shows the American heiratige.

There is a walk of flags of the states and territories as you approach the base, a museum & theator, a gift shop, and a resteraunt. At the base of the sculptures there is a large ampitheator where evening programs are given as well as a lighting program done each evening at 9 pm. Having arrived in the morning, we chose to continue on to visit the town of Keystone and get lunch before continuing to Custer State Park in the afternoon. We will plan to return toward evening at a later time to stay for the lighting program, since we have all summer to explore.

After lunch we headed to Custer State Park, via US16a through some very scenic country. This road is a "don't miss" if you are traveling by car but not recommended if in a large RV. The road is very steep and extremely crooked with three corkscrew turns where you pass under a bridge and then loop around to cross over that same bridge and also three tunnels that are only 12' high and 10' wide,  being one lane with no traffic control but a loud horn honked before entering. What is particularly neat is that each of those tunnels is aligned perfectly to frame the busts of the four presidents as you look through them to the north! Speed linits on this road are never above 45 mph with most of it at 35 or less. We noticed that even the motorcycles take this one very slowly.

Once you cross the top of this pass you enter into Custer State Park by way of one of the roads that are called the Wildlife Loop. It doesn't take long before you begin to see the reason as there are many buffalo along this road and we also saw several antelope, deer and one elk. Part way along the route we came to a traffic jam, where the buffalo were licking minerals from the road banks and lazing about on and next to the road. At times they completely blocked the road.

After nearly half an hour we were able to work our way through the heard and continue on to the visitor center an from there back toward home at Angostura. We arrived in Hot Springs to a major thunderstorm with heavy rain and wind. By the time that we reached the park it was pretty well over but did make our gravel road into the park into a real mess for our car.  Even so, it was a wonderful day and we had a great time!

Today was spent by washing the care and helping with chores around the park. The intern and I were invited out to watch forest fire fighing training with water drops by hellicopter. I'll post some pictures from that tomorrow.

We spent yesterday afternoon in a staff gathering at park HQ on the other side of the lake for orientation and to meet all of the other staff. There are eight host couples on that side as well as about a dozen permanent and seasonal park staff. It was interesting to meet everyone. We rode over in the park truck along with our summer intern and the part-time seasonal worker from here. As we all drove back to this side we all agreed that we like it much better over here. Jobs are less defined with the four of us here simply sharing what needs to be done and mostly dividing the chores in whatever way we happen to like. Since we are all rather independent types we get along well and like having our own system.

Pam & I were also given an annual parks pass for all SD parks for our volunteer service. We are off to see Mt. Rushmore today!

Today is our day to meet the rest of the park volunteers. We are in a campground that is across the lake from all of the others, so have thus far only met the few who have come over here. We share duties with a summer intern who graduates from college in Dec. and with a part-time seasonal employee who lives just 1/4 mile away. The summer intern is officially in charge but we just work as a team and do our own thing. The seasonal worker does the toilet and shower cleaning on weekends as well as filling in on the two days a week when both the intern and us are off duty. Officially the intern works 40 hours a week but when he has help there are times he really has to make an effort to stay busy all of those hours. The seasonal worker does the cleaning duties except the intern does when she isn't here, and she also takes care of the lodge that belongs to the park between rentals. The lodge is up on a hill above the lake and about a mile from us. That is where we go to do our laundry as well.

We will be leaveing here about noon and have an orientation in the main park 26 miles by land away. We don't have a boat as it would only be a bit more than a mile across the lake. After the meeting is a socail hour and dinner. None of us here have met more than the two bosses and a couple of maintenance workers so it should be a good day.

The main park has a beach, two marinas, four campgrounds comprising nearly 200 sites, camping cabins, a visitor center, park headquarters, and six host sites. Over here we have 20 RV sites and about 3 miles down the park road a horse camp with 11 sites. Things are much more peaceful over here.

After some stops in Kansas to visit friends and family, we arrived at the 54th Escapade of the Escapee's RV Club in Goshen, IN. There were more than 500 RVs there and in spite of some rainy and cold weather, everyone seemed to have a great time. For us things really started off with a bang, as Pam was drawn as one of two winners of $500 in cash door prizes at the opening ceremony!  As a result she was able to get a number of things which were on our wish list but we had not yet made up our minds as to the budget! And it must be pointed out that she was generous to me as well since most was spent on things for our RV which we probably would have done eventually, anyway. Our RV now has all interior lights as LED's, we have very nice new rug on the floor, Pam has several new items of clothing and she had a custom sign made and with it a new really neat hanger for it that we both had seen the day before but were not sure we should spend as much as it cost. We really love it and are now happy that she won and we spent the money and had it done. We really had a memorable time and one that Pam especially will long remember.

If you have never been to an Escapade it is an event that all RV folks should attend at least once or twice and the next one will be held in Mach of 2015 in Tucson!

By popular request, I am going to attempt to get the old travel blog going once more. We are now stopped for the summer at Angostura State Park, near Hot Springs, SD. We host across the lake from the main park in Shep's Canyon Recreation Area. We arrived here on April 23, after having spent time visiting family & friends in Kansas and then attending the Escapade RV rally in Goshen, IN. In route from Goshen we also stopped in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to visit our RVing friends, the Williams.

We had a very busy three weeks on the road and saw some new country for us. We traveled north from Cedar Rapids to I-90 and then west across MN and SD to Rapid City where we turned south to Hot Springs and the park. In route we took a day out at Wall, SD to visit the famous drug store and also the Bad Lands NP. I'll make the discussion of that another entry.

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