Posted June 9, 2013
It's a Picture Taking Excursion Day!
Not many days are perfect - I soon realized this one was - the sun was shining, the grass in the meadows was as green as I've ever seen it, and the wind wasn't blowing for a change. It must be summer! Sadly, my husband had to work today. I could have moped around the house wishing he were here so we could hop in the car and head for the Hills, but I heard the calling, the words pulling me toward my camera, "It's a picture taking excursion day if there ever was one!"
I reached for a jug of water for our dog, Sandy, out of the fridge, hooked her up to her leash, looped the camera around my neck, grabbed my soda and purse and jumped in the car. I hit the button to open the sun roof and rolled down the passenger window for my traveling companion. I didn't have a plan, a time table or a map. I crossed over Sheridan Lake Road and followed Moon Meadows over to Hwy 16 (Mount Rushmore Road). I felt a calling to hit Iron Mountain Road today, for some reason.
It was a great day! I didn't know it yet, but I was about to get some of the best photos I've ever taken. We took the winding, curving scenic byway off of Hwy 16 (Iron Mountain) knowing that I'd end up in Custer State Park. I hoped to see some buffalo and, of course, it's always fun to run into the "wild" burros.
I climbed up on a rock off to the side of the road where I knew I could view Mount Rushmore from the top. I had been a few years since I climbed that rock - the trees had almost blocked the view of the Presidents, but I was able to see the faces of Washington and Jefferson. I snapped the photo, but with shakey knees - I felt like I was loosing my balance. Getting down off the rock was trickier than getting up, but I finally got down without scrapping any skin off my knees - a miracle considering how clumsy I was.
We drove through several tunnels that outline the view of Mount Rushmore and I got some photos. As I was driving through one tunnel, an excited lady keep pointing back toward Mount Rushmore and yelling at me, "Turn around, you gotta see it! Turn around." I just smiled at her and pulled my car over. When I got out, she came running up to me, "Look at that!" That's what I love to see, our visitors so enthusiastic. I hope she goes back home and spreads the word.
Sandy and I took a small little hike near a picnic area and shot some more photos. I could tell that Sandy was enjoying the day as much as I was.
I stopped at a campground and bought some snacks for the road, just in case we did see the burros. Of course, Sandy and I ate half the bag...but that's part of the fun of a road trip-snacking and enjoying the scenery.
Traffic slowed way down, and then stopped. The the burros came into view. I worried that Sandy would have barking fit (and there is nothing worse than her high pitched yelp), but she just sat calmly on the front seat while the burros stuck their heads in the car window begging for food. Of course, I obliged even though it's posted not to. The burros know better - they love the visitors.
Then we came upon the buffalo and I was able to get the best buffalo pictures I've ever taken. These alone were worth the trip. I can't think of an animal more amazing to view and capture.
We continued out of Custer State Park and ended up in the Wind Cave National Park area near Hot Springs. We got to view more buffalo. Then, around a bend, I slowed to a crawl to drive along side of two antelope who were just meandering alongside the road minding their own business. I've never been that close to an antelope! I thanked God for the wonderful photo op!
We ended up driving through the town of Hot Springs - I had forgotten what a quaint little town it was, with a creek of "hot" water running through the city. I wanted to explore main street, but it was too warm to leave Sandy alone in the car. I made a note to self - come back here soon with hubbie and explore.
We found our way to Highway 79 which is rolling hills and prairie on the right side as you travel north and follows the base of the mountains of the Black Hills to the left side. In fact, some of the mountains looked like the outlines of buffalo. I cruised along feeling thankful to God that he has blessed us with a home near the Black Hills of South Dakota, where we are able to spend an afternoon enjoying His spectacular creations. Every time I looked to the left, it took my breath away - the green grass, with the seemingly black hills in the distance - it was both stunning and spiritual. That's the feeling I get every time I see the outline of the Black Hills. What a day!