Category Archives: Travel

Sioux Falls, SD

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As our time on the road started to wind down, we decided to spend a couple of days in Sioux Falls before heading back towards Texas.  A well-known landmark was on the way to Sioux Falls and we just had to stop to see what it was all about.  The Wall Drug Store is a humongous Store with advertising for miles before you reach it.  The whole town has embraced the fame of Wall Drug Store and there are stores all around the drug store!

The Sioux Falls are beautiful, you really need to see them to appreciate them!!

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If you get to Sioux Falls, make sure that you stop by and see the SS South Dakota Memorial.  It is an unusual and unique memorial that takes pieces salvaged from the SS South Dakota and laid out on the grounds in the shape of the ship.

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We took another road trip into Minnesota since we were so close!

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South Dakota Sights

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The first thing I think of when I hear someone talking about South Dakota is Mount Rushmore.  I have seen so many pictures of Mount Rushmore, it really gets built up in your mind as a massive landmark.  I am not saying it is not awe inspiring to see our former Presidents immortalized in stone, especially after hearing the story of how it was accomplished!  But, on the other hand, you expect this massive mountain with our Presidents faces on it when you arrive at Mount Rushmore and it does disappoint a little in that respect.  Putting that initial disappointment aside, if you take the time to walk under the Presidents and visit the museum and all of the other buildings on the property, you can recapture that enthusiasm for Mount Rushmore.  It is a wonderful part of our country’s history and really is a must see location.

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A second landmark, that we really had not known too much about before planning our trip to South Dakota, is the Crazy Horse Memorial.  This Memorial has the “WOW” factor you are expecting.  To get a perspective on its size, when you see the white line that is outlining the head of the horse, that white line is 6 feet wide.  We paid extra to be driven up as close as we were allowed to get to the Memorial.  Our perspective changed from a side view to a frontal view of Crazy Horse.  It was so impressive, even the pictures do not do it justice.  The museum had so much history on how this monument came into being and also of Korczazk Ziolkowski, the sculptor, and his wife, Ruth.  Before heading to South Dakota, please look at the Crazy Horse Memorial website for special dates and activities. DSCF2823 DSCF2824 

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Another activity that we always plan for is to ride any trains that are in the area of our trips.  There is an 1880 Steam Train that runs between Hill City and Keystone.  We first drove to Hill City, but would have to wait 2 1/2 hours before being able to ride the train, so we decided to drive to Keystone and catch the afternoon train from there.  It would truly be worth the pre-planning to purchase the tickets ahead of time by visiting their website! While we waited, we went to the Big Thunder Gold Mine to pan for gold.  This was a fun experience as long as you are not expecting to hit it rich, definitely a tourist activity!  We decided to walk down the main street for tourists and checked out the souvenir shops, the candy shop, and the different options to eat lunch.  Arriving at the train depot, we bought some t-shirts and waited for the arrival of the train.  After boarding, with the option of open air or enclosed train cars (we chose the enclosed because of the cool air), we started our ride to Hill City, which took 1 hour.  We did not even get off upon arrival, just switched sides of the train and rode it back to Keystone

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South of Custer, SD where we were staying at the KOA campground, is the city of Hot Springs.  It was a little like deja vu when we drove through Hot Springs on our way to Custer, it really reminded us of Hot Springs, Arkansas.  We walked down to visit the Hot Springs waterfall and the various structures along the way.

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 Mammoth Site was our next stop, I did not even know there was a site like that in the U.S.  After all of the walking we did, we stopped at a very nice restaurant, with great food and decent prices called Dale’s Family Restaurant. 

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We found another museum, the Pioneer Museum, which was a multi-story building with so many items from the Pioneer settlers.  It was mind boggling how much they had to view.  That ended our sight-seeing in Hot Springs and we drove through Wind Cave National Park to go to Hill City to view the Railroad Museum there.  

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On another day, we took a road trip through nearby towns.  We visited Deadwood, SD and stopped by the Adams Museum and then the Visitors Center that was in the old train depot.  We managed to drive down part of Historic main street that was not blocked off for a street concert.  Continuing our road trip, we drove down Hwy 14A and stopped at the Broken Boot Gold Mine to do some more panning for gold.  Our next stop was in Lead, SD, stopping at the Black Hills Mining Museum with more gold panning, but with more specific instructions and continued supervision.  We finished our road trip that day by driving down Hwy 85 through Newcastle, Wyoming, and then east toward Custer, SD.

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Buffaloes Everywhere

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The first thing that caught our attention when we drove through Custer, was the life-sized painted buffaloes.  You could see the buffaloes on almost every street corner.  This post is my way of highlighting this unique feature:

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This red and yellow buffalo was actually at the Crazy Horse Museum.

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Northward Bound

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We always have a sense of anticipation as we plan and pack and then finally get to leave on our vacation.

Jeff is an excellent researcher on finding places to see while at our destination.  He also checks on the campgrounds to stay at along our journey, calculating the distance traveled each day.  We have found that a 6 hour day is optimum for us, though there are just times when a longer drive is necessary to complete the journey.

The distance from south Texas to South Dakota was going to be a long way for us, so we determined 3 days is all we wanted to be on the road going up.  Our first day ended in Oklahoma City. We were used to driving to north Texas in a day to visit my family, but felt we needed to put a little more distance in on this trip.  My Mom and Sister, Rose, were joining on this trip and it was still close enough for them to join us that evening.

After getting our camper set up, we drove around and found the Boom-A-Rang Diner in Choctaw, OK to eat supper.  The menu covered breakfast and supper items, it was delicious and reasonably priced with friendly service.  If you get in the area, you need to stop and have a bite to eat.

The next day was an even longer drive.  We were on the road for 11 hours before pulling into Gothenburg, Nebraska, traveling through Oklahoma, Kansas and halfway through Nebraska (going east to west).  It was very exhausting.      

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            The Gothenburg KOA had some beautiful flowers throughout the grounds.    

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 We did stop at every State Welcome Center to pick up maps and take a break.  Rose and Mom drove at their own pace, stopping to sight-see and shopping…they caught up to us an hour or two later.  They managed to stop in at the Pony Express historical building in Gothenburg before arriving at the campsite.  Jeff and I made a point to stop by there the next morning before leaving town.  If you like history the way we do, it is a great place to visit.DSCF2747   DSCF2746DSCF2748   DSCF2749

Our final day on the road took 6 hours, with us arriving in Custer, SD at the Custer KOA at 4pm.

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We were able to see some buffalo and prairie dogs as we drove through Black Hills National Forest to reach our destination. It is hard to see the prairie dogs in the pictures I took.

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Happy to reach our destination, we drove through Custer and stopped to eat at the Cattleman’s Steak House.  It cost more than we had planned to spend, but the food was great!  

Road Trip – Homeward Bound!

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Getting back on the road, we drove through Maryland, West Virginia and made it to Wytheville, Virginia.  The next day had a destination of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  After arriving at the campground and setting up, we headed back out again to ride the Chattanooga Train.  We made it in time to ride the 2:25 train.  Continue reading

Our Adventures in Pennsylvania

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We stayed in two different KOA’s while in Pennsylvania.  The first one was in Jonestown and the KOA had a overall camp store that was used by the residents of Jonestown, as much as the campers.  It is a small town that had a National Park to the west with trails to walk and a river that flows right beside the campground.  The countryside is beautiful and as seems common in Pennsylvania the country roads wind around from town to town.  The interstate is a more direct road and that is what we took to Hershey, PA.  Our first stop was Hershey’s Chocolate World. Continue reading

I {heart} New York

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My Sister, Debbie, had not seen our fifth wheel, so before we pulled out, Debbie and the girls stopped by to have a look at it.  We always like showing off our camper, in the 2 years we have had it, we have covered a lot of miles in it and it still looks nice.  After tearful goodbyes, we pulled out for the next part of our journey. Continue reading

Green and White Mountains

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If you ever have a trivia question on what Vermont means, your answer should be “Green Mountain.” The French word “Ver” means green and “mont” means mount or mountain, thus “Green Mountain.”  This tidbit of information came to us while aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen on Lake Champlain…but more on that part of our trip later. Continue reading

Oh, Canada!!

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Did I mention trauma?  The day started out well, no rain and we were able to get on the road by 10:20 am.  We even got to eat breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, my favorite restaurant!!  After entering New York, we stopped at the I-90 Travel Center – Angola for gas and a bathroom break.  On a side note, I have to say that the travel centers on the toll roads in New York are some of the nicest places to stop…they are like a tourist destination of their own, with souvenirs, nice food area, clean bathrooms, nice people to help you with destination questions, one place we stopped at even had some fresh fruit to buy. Continue reading

On the Road

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FINALLY!!!  School is out and vacation has started!  We left Saturday morning for our first stop of Texarkana.  We do not usually make our campground reservations until we get on the road, mainly because if we are delayed because we find something we would like to stop and do along the way or because of delays due to road construction, this may change where we decide to stop.  So, after we got on the road, I called the Texarkana KOA to make reservations.  I always have my KOA membership number available because it gives me a 10% discount.  If you are not familiar with the KOA membership rewards, you need to check it out…we have found that it is totally worth joining!  I also make personal preference requests known to the campground and ask if they can accommodate them. Continue reading