Keystone, SD - Custer, SD
Our drive to Wind Cave took us through the Black Hills National Forest and over these beautiful wooden bridges. Around the curves and through the tunnels catching glimpses of Mount Rushmore. Bison and antelope were shy this morning, but not the prairie dogs.
Unless you arrive at 7:45, you will wait for your cave tour. Bring a picnic lunch, a book to read, or other occupancy of time. The box work formations are unlike anything I've ever seen (except waffles). Wind Cave has 147 miles mapped which is only about 10% of the cave. Its thought to be one of the largest in the world. Our guide told us the Lakota emergence story and how the cave is a sacred place to the Lakota.
After our cave tour, we headed into Custer to check in at the Rocket Motel. Don was great and even helped with dinner recommendations. The rooms have been updated from the 1950s, but done so in a tasteful way - preserving a since of nostalgia. We met our motel neighbors for the evening, Tony and Craig, from British Columbia on a motorcycle trip.
After finally having decent wifi, the mass upload of pictures to the website began. Also why blog posts have been delayed for a few days, but I'll post them as technology infrastructure allows. I've begun writing offline, to help speed up the process that requires internet. After an hour or so of my blog chores, we headed off to dinner at Skogen.
Fabulous. You wouldn't know they've only been open 10 weeks, as everything was seamless. There were no startup hiccups (that we saw). The friendly staff even chatting with mom endlessly and answered some of our questions about the local culture. (Photo of Curtis, our waiter, and mom below) We were curious about the large amount of foreign teenagers working in many of the restaurants. They seemed out of place in these small towns where in the winter the population is 2,000 to 3,000. The teens are part of the J1 program that provides seasonal work to students in small areas whose local population cannot support the seasonal tourism.
Back to the important part... the food. I've eaten in some amazing restaurants and this is definitely in the top 10. Strike that. Top 5. For an appetizer, we shared a caprese salad that had the most intriguing balsamic pearls on top. For dinner, I had the roast chicken with watermelon and heirloom tomatoes. (My mouth is watering writing about this.) Mom had the walleye with black sesame tahini which she equally gushed over. As stuffed as we were, mom decided to get desert. (This NEVER - I MEAN NEVER EVER - happens.) Mom ordered the salted caramel pudding with toffee crumble. I had a small taste and I agree it was delicious - not too salty, not too sweet - just perfect. The caprese salad was so good, that I ordered it again for desert and I ate the entire thing myself. (I seriously ate two plates of this without pausing to take a picture.) It was fantastic, so fantastic we went for breakfast the next morning.
After dinner, we shared a beer with Craig and Tony (until Mom started godbothering). Then, I spent some more needed time catching up on blog posts and editing photos. Need to order more "business" cards, too.
- Day 6 stats: 43 miles, 0 (new) states, 0 (new) NPS.
- Running totals: 1,514 miles, 6 states, 7 NPS.