July 24, 2011

The Shortarmguy Family Trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota

The Shortarmguy Family Trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota
Shortarmguy Diary Update for July 24, 2011

We started our vacation this week by going to a Minnesota Twins game on Monday at Target Field.  The heat index put us at about 110 degrees.  Needless to say, we only lasted 5 innings before the boys demanded we leave or they'd melt.  We sure do love Outdoor Baseball in Minnesota!

On Tuesday we drove to the Black Hills of South Dakota!  We were told that we had to stop in Mitchell to see the Corn Palace!!  We did it, but weren't that impressed.  We were expecting a building where everything was made of corn including the walls, floor, and ceiling.  We were a bit disappointed when we discovered the corn palace basically just had some murals on the wall made of corn cobs.  They should call the place Corn Pictures instead of Corn Palace.

We also stopped by Wall Drug because that's the thing you do when driving through South Dakota.  The place has been around forever and built their reputation by giving away free ice water.  But Miss Sheri wasn't having anything to do with that crap.  She said she was bringing her own water so she didn't owe them Drug People anything!  

Avery loved riding on this bucking bronco until we told him that it wasn't real.  

We went to Deadwood and met up with Grandma Joyce, Martha, and Ryan for dinner.  We ate at Saloon 10.  We like hanging out at Saloons together!

After our meal, we went downstairs to watch a re-enactment of Wild Bill Hickcock getting shot.  I kept feeling I should try to save the guy since we knew what was about to happen to him, but I guess the management think that spoils the show for the other patrons.

Later we went over to Kevin Costner's Casino and Grill.  They love him in South Dakota because of all he did for them with the movie Dances With Wolves.  Apparently he owns this casino with his brother.  He keeps a bunch of his old movie props and costumes from his past great films like "No Way Out", "Bull Durham", and "Robin Hood."  Based on the size of his costumes, I was amazed to discover what a little guy Kevin Costner must be.  I'm pretty sure I could take him.

On Wednesday we drove past Crazy Horse on our way to see Mount Rushmore.  It's still very cool, but doesn't look like it's changed much since the last time we saw it about 15 years ago.  I feel bad for the people working on this sculpture.  It must suck to spend so much time on a project that seems to be going nowhere!  Guess they know what it feels like to be congress-people. 

Mount Rushmore is still amazing!  We kept looking for Nicolas Cage to be running around up there, but none of us could find him.  He must be very sneaky!

We took a train ride to Keystone on the 1880 Train.  Nice ride, but for two hours it slowly rocked us all to sleep.  Those people in the olden days sure knew how to make travel comfortable!

On Wednesday night, we celebrated my 41st birthday at the Alpine Inn in Hill City.  I love places that give you sparklers on your table!!  Fire makes food good!

We woke up bright and early on Thursday to go harass the animals at Custer State Park.  There's signs everywhere that tell you that the buffalo are dangerous, but all we wanted to do was pet one!  We came close when we stumbled across this herd of them crossing the road in front of us.  The voice you hear telling us to back-off is that of the Park Ranger.  If you listen closely, you'll hear him tell a story about the day before when one of the buffalo rammed some guy's car!

After Custer State Park, we drove over Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road where we made our children pose for pictures near cliffs that had drop-offs about 150 feet down.  It was worth it, though, because do you see how clear Mount Rushmore is in that background?

Afterwards, we drove through Bear Country USA where we had even closer access to even more dangerous animals.  The boys loved watching these huge mammals as they nearly bit into our family van.  You're not supposed to open your windows while driving through the park, but we couldn't resist.  Lucky for us, we're still missing the same amount of fingers that we were missing when we left.

Because the day still didn't feel full enough, we decided to make a stop at Reptile Gardens.  It was cool because they let you sit on the bleachers in the shade while they harassed the animals for our enjoyment.  This guy was pretty new on the job for doing the shows, but he really seemed like he knew what he was doing.  As long as the animals cooperate for him, I think he'll have a long career in front of him.  Here's a short video of his act:

This was Luke's favorite place.  He loves snakes and frogs and turtles and things like that.  Although I think he was a little ticked off when this tortoise stepped on his foot!

Unlike Luke, I'm not as fond of the Reptiles.

But he calmed me done and taught me how to rub snakes the right way so they don't want to bite your face.

On Friday, we decided to relax a bit at the Hotel's water park.  We also went to Jewel Cave which is supposedly the second largest cave in the world.  It was very cool, but if you've seen one stalactite, you've seen them all.  We want cave monsters!

Our best accomplishment of the trip was helping Luke to get over his fear of big water park slides.  We did this by pushing him down this "Toilet Bowl" slide numerous times.  Once he survived a couple flushes, he kept begging for more!

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