I had such a wonderful time in the hills this past weekend (per usual!)! My mom and I left early Friday morning and stopped for breakfast with my dad who was in Sioux City. Following a bit of a fubar situation at the first place we tried (sitting for 30+ minutes because they lost our order and then tried to say it was ready but because we said we wanted our money refunded they claimed they threw the food away), we ended up having a little bit of a later start than was planned, but we still got there early enough to enjoy the days festivities!
After a quick bite to eat, my mom and I joined my brother and his girlfriend and we went up to Belle Fourche to watch the rodeo and fireworks. I haven’t been to a rodeo in years so it was a great night. They had these fantastic intermission shows: the first was a clown who came out in an old, falling-apart VW Bug and inside the car was a miniature horse that could do tricks. The second show was a a group of trained border collies who were ridden by little monkeys (who were wearing chaps!) and they rounded up a small herd of bighorn sheep. It was so adorable and amazing that the little monkeys could stay on.
I was also hoping that I’d see the name “Willert” flash on the big screen and I was not disappointed. My mom had gone for a walk because the bleachers were so uncomfortable and she called just as the saddle-bronc event was about to begin. I literally screamed, “Willert! Willert! There’s a Willert riding!” And she hurried back to watch. She tried to get behind the chutes later to introduce ourselves but they wouldn’t let her.
The fireworks show began after the rodeo ended and it was beautiful. It was ranked as the best in the Black Hills and it was breathtaking. The fireworks were huge and they were right above us and you could feel the ground shake with each boom.
Saturday we got up and went downtown for smoothies and a walk around to see the president statues. Rapid City has life size statues of all the presidents in the historic downtown area. I got photos with both of my distant cousins, John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams.
Saturday was also the only really hot day of our trip so that afternoon, so we went to this gold mine called Thunderhead Falls. It’s an old mine that goes about 600 feet into the mountain. But when the miners, following a vein of gold drilled up, they unleashed an underground river that flooded the mine. It’s still flowing today and has created a waterfall.
We entered the cave and instantly the temperature dropped. I was expecting the cave to continue on and on so I was glad when it ended because I hadn’t brought my sweater. And the water rushing at the end was so powerful and loud. Outside the mine, a waterfall flows into the rapid creek below.
It was raining when we came out of the cave and it was the sweet kind of rain where the sun is shining yet water falls from the sky. I wandered around just enjoying the cooling rain and the beautiful sights of the hills.
That night we had a BBQ at my brother’s and his girlfriend’s parents came over before we went to watch fireworks from a parking lot.
Sunday, my mom and I drove down to Custer so that we could go to the park and visit family. When we were leaving the park, we ended up, inadvertently, bringing up the rear of a cattle drive. Watching the dogs work and drive the cattle was so interesting. It’s amazing how smart the dogs are, and it really made me miss my border collie I had when I was growing up.
After a visit with my grandpa’s cousins, (and apologies for forgetting the manuscript I had printed) we headed back to Rapid. We met my brother and his girlfriend for dinner at a restaurant in Rockerville. What had started as a drizzle of rain in Custer picked up and by the time we finished dinner, I was cold, damp, and tired so I put on pjs as soon as we got back to my brother’s.
Monday morning we said our goodbyes and drove to Keystone so we could visit the historical museum where they have a collection of Ingalls family artifacts. We arrived before the museum opened, so we did a walking tour of historic Keystone and ate lunch at a nice little cafe and had an enjoyable morning in the quiet part of town.
And, as always, the drive home took so much longer than it seems like it should. But arrive we did. I’m planning a return trip later this fall with my boyfriend, and I can’t wait to show him some of my favorite places!