Sunday, August 29, 2010

South Dakota

We enjoyed the trip north from Thedford, especially the many small wetland areas. In a few weeks when the fall migration begins, I imagine most of them will be covered with ducks, geese and maybe sandhill cranes.

We had planned to spend several days in the area around Valentine, Nebraska. That area contains Nebraska's tallest waterfall, Smith Falls; the Niobrara National Scenic River, known for its reliable water levels and good conoeing; and several wildlife refuges. Unfortunately, temperatures in the high 90s, with strong, gusty winds and blowing dust made outdoor activities unappealing. We decided to move on and return to Valentine another time.

Traveling west along Nebraska's Bridges to Buttes Byway, we saw more cattle, corn, and some amazing fields of giant sunflowers.

We stopped just outside Chadron to visit the Museum of the Fur Trade. Located on the site of a trading post operated by the American Fur Company from 1837 to 1876, the museum preserves the history of the fur trade from the Arctic to the American Southwest. Exhibits include not only trade goods and other rare artifacts, but an extensive collection of firearms used by trappers, buffalo hunters, mountain men and Indians. The restored trading post and exhibits are well worth a visit.

Turning north again at Chadron, we continued across the plains of southern South Dakota, through Hot Springs and into the Black Hills around Custer.

We are camped at Broken Arrow RV Park and Horse Camp 6 miles outside Custer. The camp has covered corrals, and backs up to the National Forest, where over 100 miles of trails are available. It is a popular destination not only for RVers, but for people who want to camp and have access to good riding trails. Here a group of riders wash down their horses after a 15-mile ride.

The Bagley Pack is learning that it's not cool to bark at horses, and that we move off the trail when we meet them. Feathers is enjoying herself, and in this cool weather is able to take a couple of good walks each day. Here, the dogs relax in front of the RV in the cool afternoon, and Feathers and Nickie share a bed in the rig.

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