A Vegan in the Black Hills (Day 2)

A Vegan in the Black Hills (Day 2)

Wall Drug is a very well-known roadside attraction with a long history of enticing drivers. It all began in 1931 when a persistent couple bought a drug store in the middle of nowhere. Determined to bring customers in they began luring the travelers with promises of free ice water by way of numerous large billboards. It worked. Wall Drug is still going strong… and the lure still works today. Traveling the westbound I-90 from Sioux Falls to Rapid City, you see non-stop billboards for Wall Drug. By that point, you’ve formed a relationship with the signs; you watch for them, look forward to them breaking up the desolate road. So you pull in and fill up the water bottle and buy bison socks. IMG_3146

Why not drop in on your Founding Fathers? (Say it in a naggy, high-pitched voice) Mount Rushmore National Monument is one of the top attractions within the Black Hills National Forest. DSC_0006

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Though their faces remain the same, the surrounding visitor area has grown so much in the last 17 years. DSC_0022

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Next, I hit two well-known scenic drives: Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway, which runs through Custer State Park. Both offer amazing views of this breathtaking area.DSC_0030

The tunnel of Iron Mountain Road all offer neat frames for the Monument. Pretty neat.PicMonkey Collage1 DSC_0040 PicMonkey Collage2 DSC_0061

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Driving through the eye of the Needle.IMG_3169

Heading south into Custer, you can also drop in on a National monument that is still being constructed. Started in 1948, the Crazy Horse National Monument attempts to honor Native Americans who fought to maintain their land during the United States’ westward expansion. {Crazy Horse was a brave Lakota warrior, not the name of a malt whose bottle held your burning incense when you were a teenager.} But the project is not without controversy, mostly because Native customs are in direct contrast to taking nature’s mountain, blowing it up with dynamite, and turning it into a showy, man-made monument. This, and the site sits on the Lakota burial grounds in the Black Hills. If this monument ever gets finished, it will be the world’s largest sculpture.DSC_0084

You can’t get very far as it’s still an active construction site. DSC_0092

I took the $4 bus ride to get closer than the visitor center.DSC_0098

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Next, I made my way to the South Dakota’s second National Park, Wind Cave National Park. The park is in Hot Springs, South Dakota and has many touts about it. It’s the 6th largest cave in the world with some distinct formations. It also was the first cave to be designated as a National Park. I checked out the Fairgrounds guided tour to get up close and personal with the cave. It was a nice 50 degree escape from the sweltering weather above land.IMG_3213

Here is the boxwork formation. This cave has 95% of the world’s boxwork.IMG_3220

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There were 40 of us wandering about underground.DSC_0119

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What’s wonderful about this national park is that there is plenty of above-ground prairie to explore with lots of beauty and wildlife about, like these little yelping Prairie Dogs that were all over the place, jumping in and out of their burrows.DSC_0139

Real live bison. Not burgers or jerky or fiberglass. Love to see them wild and free.
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It’s all about eating.
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These guys were walking toward my car, then changed their minds.IMG_3232

Ok, so there is not much vegan food in South Dakota. Your best bet is going international, like I did in Sioux Falls. In Rapid City, I had Indian at The Everest Cuisine, which hit the spot.IMG_3234

That’s all for now, South Dakota. You’re definitely in my Top 10 states! xo