A Travellerspoint blog

September 2009

Skipping Little Big Horn Battlefield

and gaining the Bighorn National Forest Canyon

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Joe:
I feel good waking up in my own little cabin in the tiny loft. It’s nice and warm and I’m thinking that I can’t believe that we could tell the owner that we’re trying to save money and he gave us this for $36 when rooms were $100. He said we could get the deal if we use our sleeping bag as a sheet because he hadn’t setup this cabin. Everyone wants to help if you need it and you’re willing to ask. Oh, yeah. You have to be really nice too. It reminds me of a person Dan Millman (author of Peaceful Warrior) once met. This women decided that she would keep walking until given a ride or shelter for free, and she would not eat or drink anything until it was given. To some, this may sound irresponsible and selfish, but it teaches a lot about interdependence, compassion, and love. I hope that soon we will have things in order and we’ll have more opportunities to help others the way we’ve been helped (you wouldn’t believe how many times).
It’s only a little cool in the morning air on the mountain. Totally refreshing. When I look back at the pictures they never come close to comparing to being here. I guess that’s why people actually travel even though they can see it all on the internet. When you look at the pictures try to feel the effortless speed of flying through it: Floating and being totally in the scene and passing though it at the same time. When you pass through it there is a brief moment where you cut through to the heart of the scene and it’s so sharp and so sudden. You should watch the Kiwi Bird youtube video to give you an idea about how great it is to fly.
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The trees are spread in sparse lines and distant forests that turn into crashing waves as we speed past them. The land at the top of the mountain is open and reveals distant peaks. We come down from the lazy curves around the top of the mountain and it’s time for some crazy twists and crazy sights.
At one point I see a canyon almost out of the corner of my eye and I cut through and feel it. I knew this was the spot. I had to stop. We turn around and slowly climb back up to a little pull-off.
Oh…my…god. It was perfect. We climb over the guard rail and into the thick golden brown underbrush to a rock that overlooks the jagged canyon.
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Over top of the canyon are rolling hills of grass that lead up to trees and peaks of rocky cliffs. The variety of the scene was awesome. As we get closer we see a rushing river that has slowly cut this canyon out of the hillside.
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The thing that first attracted me to the spot was the beautiful way the parallel canyon was joined by a really jagged canyon straight ahead. I see a rock farther down our side that truly juts out on a cliff’s edge overlooking the scene. I scramble down the rocks and weeds and trees to the spot that sits right against a clump of brilliant colored evergreens.
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I notice that the two intersecting canyons are caused by intersecting rivers. Vanessa and I both meditate for a while. She is up by the first rock and I was on the cliff. We both separately decided to do the bliss chi gong. It was so calm and peaceful. I could just here the rushing rapids. We tape the dragon animal exercise from my spot and say our good-byes to my (still) favorite spot of the trip.

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I point out to V the way the layers of rock aren’t just horizontal, but crisscross and curve all over the place.
On the bike we feel refreshed, but we need to move to get to Yellowstone and then V’s doctor’s appointment in Denver. The bike carves beautifully around the mountain as we see more amazing sights over the guardrail and cliffs. We drop down into the canyon and drive along the river that we adored so much earlier.
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We leave bighorn and hit some flat farmland with the occasional awesome rock formation.
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How would you like to have that rock in your backyard.

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Then we stopped at a cool general store and restaurant. Friendly older people were sitting on rocking chairs on the front porch. We go inside and shop. V buys Brittany a great B-day present and we were only going to get some little snacks and keep moving. But...they had a good salad bar and one plate was only $3.95. I spent about 15 minutes stacking and balancing a ton of stuff on it and we ate healthy.

We rode off into the sunset on our steel horse, a stallion named Perp(short for purple). DSCN2557.jpgDSCN2549.jpgDSCN2551.jpgDSCN2556.jpgDSCN2558.jpg

So close to yellowstone we drive into the night a bit planning on sneaking into one of their campgrounds and passing out. We're still in a hurry because of the doc appointment. I start to have an ominous feeling. This is a bad idea. We are passing between high cliffs and there is a heavy cloud cover so it's very dark. The wind is cold and hard. I ask V if we should go back to the last town. She agrees. I slow to a stop on the empty dark roadway. I pull a U-turn and I hit it a little hard. A sudden gust of wind blows me right over. We both manage to gently set the bike down on its side, but now we're stuck in the middle of the road at night. V gets on the far side and steps on the peg with all her weight while pulling the handlebar with her good hand. I get underneath and lift as the bike lurches up unsteadily. It dumps gas on my hand and we get off the road and cool down while cleaning off my hand.

NO U-TURNS AT NIGHT.

We pass out in an RV park.

Posted by - Rain 22:04 Comments (6)

Off-Roading on a '82 Silverwing

Not a good thing...

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Perkins for breakfast! I used the awesome X-celerator hand dryer (all day... loved it) while Joe worked some more on our faulty radiator. You know the ones I'm talking about? The dryers that you can see your skin being moved by the air pressure. Well, dunno if I mentioned this... but the night before after getting out of the hot tub when I took a shower, well, I was so upset that I forgot I had a broken wrist. So, yeah, I totally submerged my arm under the shower for only a few seconds before I realized what I was doing. But for the rest of the rather chilly in my arm night, the padding felt like cold silly-puddy (Ick!), and every bar we went to had either paper towles or nothing to dry your hands off at all. Yay Perkins and your industrial hand blowdryers! They are good for the environment, and for my soggy arm.

We had our usual egg and toast while we blogged. Then our waitress came over to us and asked if we wouldn’t be offended, but the table in the corner wanted to know if they could buy us something to eat! We told her the same thing we told the woman at the gas station, but still, how incredibly cute! Then our waitress came back latter on and told us that she isn’t from around here, but when she moved to Wyoming she noticed that people just do that. She said that they are just so nice and caring around here that it wasn’t out of the ordinary for someone to offer to pay for a stranger. And for the 3 cities we stopped at in Wyoming (I’m not including national parks) it was true. We had free food offered, and the woman at the first bar we went too accidentally pored us too much of a Washington Apple we ordered, so she just gave us two drinks for the price of one. Damn awesome people!

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Joe:

Ride up and down one mountain and you've seen 'em all. It's just the same ol' amazingly awesome views and feelings (deep happiness). I never stop smiling on these roads. I'm just a regular person, so distracting thoughts bubble up, but I can't help imediately letting them go and enjoying the moment.

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Vanessa:
Roads… not so awesome. The view was great as we headed into Bighorn National Park, but they seemed to be taking some of the bends out of the roads, and making a straighter path through the mountains, but before they even started paving the new roads, they took the paving off the old ones! So on the bike (like we promised we would never do to Perp again (Perp is the name Joe gave to our bike. The full name I won’t mention b/c I refuse to acknowledge it, but you are free to guess) we drove on rough ass roads up sharp hills and ridiculous numbers of turns. Joe eventually asked me (whose hand was quite upset at this point) if I wanted to walk while he drove to the lodge ahead, filled up gas (running low again), and got a room (b/c it was cold in the mountains), and then he would come back for me. I said sure, but after walking only a min. I saw Joe waiting for me on paved roads. We gave up just before the rough roads were done. There was still construction, but only cones and single lanes, still paving.

Then we thought we found the lodge, but it was a skiing place with no lodge, and then we stopped at a Christian youth camp where the adults seemed to not be very Christian to a couple who were just looking for a place to sleep since it was getting dark in the mountains with cows and other livestock walking on the roads. Joe was thinking about asking the actual owners of the place to see if we could sleep in the room filled with bunk beds, but I talked him out of b/c I was sure the 3 school buses had children who would be filling those bunks, and they wouldn’t want some free loading adults sleeping with them… and the adults there weren’t offering.

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Good thing though, b/c we finally found the lodge and we got our own personal cabin (w/ public shower) for $36! We even got 3 beds! 2 on the ground floor and 1 in the hideaway (guess which one the girl with the broken arm slept in… yeah, climbing was a bitch). After plugging everything in Joe made dinner and tea in our fire pit, and then we went on a night hike. When we got back we headed for the bar and split a pitcher of beer before heading back to the cabin for a bedtime story (Laws of Spirit).

Posted by - Rain 16:28 Comments (12)

Drinking Away Sorrows

So we woke up with one of the coolest views ever!
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Then we went up to the tower and met some people who were about to climb up it! How cool were they? Well, cool to do it, but not so cool to get the chance to do it. All you have to do to climb the tower is leave your name with registration and tell them what rout you plan to take up the tower. Anyone can do it… yeah… stupid broken wrist. Joe said that we wouldn’t make it to the top since I’ve never climbed before, but I don’t need that victory, I just wanted to say “I climbed Devil’s Tower,” I don’t care if I can’t tack on “and I made it to the top.”
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We took a video of Joe doing the Crain from the 5 Animal Exercises.

And then we took a video of another group on the other side of the tower climbing. It’s crazy, because the acoustics were so good that we could actually hear the guy leading his group (by a good bit) talking to them at the bottom of the tower!

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Then we took off for Yellowstone. At a pit stop Joe and I were apparently wandering around the gas station’s eatery looking sad and pathetic. Joe had asked earlier how much coffee was, and if there were free refills (49 cents, and no). I told him that it’s not worth it, and we should keep driving so he doesn’t have to have the afternoon sun in his eyes. Well, short story short, a woman came up to us and asked if she could buy us some food! We told her that it wasn’t necessary, and we were just pinching pennies, and that if we really needed something to eat, we could afford it. (So sweet!)

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Then radiator troubles. We have been having to use the stop leak for the radiator, but now we needed more water b/c it was spraying out. So Joe pulled off the next exit and we stopped at the first house we got to. When I knocked on the door all I had was an empty orange juice bottle and a pathetic smile. The woman wasn't even weirded out when I asked if she could fill my water bottle since my bike was having radiator troubles. She immediately said "Is that going to be enough? I have jugs of water in the basement, why don't I get you one of those?" But what she brought out was a really nice 2.2 L bottle with a sippy lid and a handle! I thanked her and told her that I felt bad taking her nice water, and she said that it was just water. Then she offered to bring me up a second one, and I told her that I don't even think I can use the entire first one since its only a motorcycle. She told me that I could bring both with me, and I said that I wasn't even planning on keeping the one she gave me, and that I wanted to bring her bottle back to her. She almost laughed at me as she mimicked her water statement with more enthusiasm: "Its only a bottle!" She was great, and today is September 27th, and we are still using her bottle that we have strapped to our rear speaker with Joe's belt (yeah, his pants fall down all the time).

We ended up driving to the next exit where there was a "otel" (the M was out) in a little fishing lake where we got a peanut butter and cinnamon milkshake and campers were allowed to use the motel’s sauna and hot tub! The woman at the café told us about a music/ flee market thing goes on in the next town over every Thursday night, and we thought about going. But, we wanted to cook some dinner on their fireplace, and do come laundry, and hot tub, so we weren’t sure. But, Joe and I got in a pretty good fight, so after the hot tub and showers, neither of us were feeling like sleep, so we went to the town to see if anything was still going on at midnight. Yeah, construction was, and nobody seemed to know what we were talking about when we asked them about the “festival” main street has on Thursdays. We stopped at a bar and had a drink, and were redirected to a blues bar where they have Thursday night live music, but they were closed. So we ended up at the bar next to that one where they had Karaoke and a bunch of people just coming of a wedding, so things were rambunctious and fun. Joe and I both were hit on too. Joe’s man was older than mine though.

Posted by - Rain 15:53 Comments (4)

Riding a Silver Horse into the Sunset

The Longest Day

Joe: (this is what I wanted this whole day to say, but V wrote a ton. We are so far behind in blogs!)
Today was so awesome that it was indescribable. So, look at the pics. Later bitches!

Vanessa: (please comment at the bottom of this blog, give a J for if you liked Joes post better, or give a V if you liked mine. Thank you, and god bless.)

Long day! We woke up pretty early to skip out on the bill (sorry national park system! I’ll pay you back somehow when I have a job). Then we started out on the trip the park ranger from Mt. Rushmore planned for us. I loved every second of it!

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We went to Custer National Park, and drove through winding roads that went up the Blackhills. There were forests of pine trees scattered with all sorts of unreal rock sculptures that made me feel like I was on another planet. George Lucas missed out by not adding this scenery to one of his planets, because it was fantastic! Then at the bottom of the hills as we were desperately heading for a gas station… yeah, you see where I’m going with this… we ran out of gas.
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So AAA sent out a truck and gave us some gas to get us to Custer to fill up some more and get some food!

Awesome part of Custer other than it’s a cute small town… they love Buffo like Cleveland loves guitars.
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Then we were onto Iron Mt. Road where the guy who built the road framed Mt. Rushmore with 2 tunnels!
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Then after that it was onto the pig tails.
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I should have taken videos, I was just overwhelmed. “What are the pig tails?” Joe asked the park ranger. “You know what pig tails look like right?” Joe mimicked little spirals with his hand. “Exactly that. That’s a trick they use to gain altitude.” He answered as if he had to explain… oh simple tourists. So we hit the pigtails (2 of them) where we spiraled down the mountain side.

After that… Deadwood!
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This one’s for you Paul and Laura (they Love/Like the show, kinda like Coldstone… Love it, Like it, Gotta Have it! Yeah, I’m tired, give me a break). For Paul’s wedding gift I bought the only Deadwood (HBO TV show) memorabilia the town had!
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There was one store with posters and stand ups of the characters from the show, and all they had inside was a tiny magnet! It was of one of the girls though, and it said something about desire is a dangerous thing… so it’s kinda wedding themed right? Yeah, I went to the tourist center and got him some pamphlets to make up for the lame gift. Then I took pics of the town, so here’s part 2 of your wedding gift Paul!

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BTW, that says that Wild Bill Hickok (dunno if he is on the show or not, but I bet he has to be… why did I always refuse to watch the show with them!) was buried 300 ft. above this spot.

Then, more driving… more driving… into the sun… not as cool as the Bonjovi song makes motorcycles sound. Riding a steal horse into the sunset hurts the eyes; I guess that’s why he left that part of being a cowboy out. But, coolest thing, we made it all the way to Devils Tower!
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We stayed at the tower late to get into the park’s campground late… b/c… yeah, we don’t want to pay for that one either. We ended up being the only vehicle at the tower other than a white car. When we got to the campsite we started to set up when Joe noticed that the numbered post had a receipt for last night and tonight on it still. “Are they coming back?” he asked me. “For $10 a night, they better be back.” I told him, so we had to move the tent. The next morning, I saw the white car parked at the spot we started at. What were the odds that we picked the only empty site that was paid for? Well, I guess the answer to that is 100%.

Posted by - Rain 15:07 Comments (6)

Rushing More

Cram it in!

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Joe:

Good morning. I wake up in my comfy RV cot and I notice that Ross and Judy left us a nice note and some breakfast. It was a banana, an orange, milk, and two pieces of banana bread with icing.
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People are so nice. We happily eat our best continental breakfast on the trip and we say goodbye to Ross and thanked him for everything.

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We head back up the mountain to Rushmore after a stop at Starbuck's to blog and finally straighten out my card account so we can get internet(damn Starbucks!).
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The rock formations are beautiful here and they pop right out of intensely green pine forests.
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We pass under this awesome tunnel and pass through the little tourist town of Keystone.
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I slow down at the end of the town and decide, "Let's stop and see this place." We go in the museum and find out that it is 8 bucks. Hell no! The nice lady responds, "Well feel free to explore the lobby."
We see some neat sculptures by Borgum the man who made Rushmore. One I liked was an original rough draft of a sculpture of Grant on a horse. It was entered into a competition but they contested that he wasn't ready and that he must have had help considering he was so young. Borgum said, "Screw it! I'm never doing a contest again. If you want me you've got to pay in advance."
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We talked to the tour guide again and she loved my awesome camera (everyone does.) It is an 8 year old nikon with an awesome swivel lens that's sturdy and simple and makes life easy. She was so excited that she could see herself on the screen as we took the pic.
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We go outside and walk a bit.
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We stopped in a shop and petted the real furs: cuyote, racoon, fox. The fox was the softest.
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I get riding and climb to the top of a mountain to and there it is.
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Back up the hill we went. The great thing about the ticket we got last night is that while we got in for free last night after missing the laser show and only having a ½ hour to see it, we have a free pass for the rest of 2009. So we showed our pass, and got in to see the much better looking version of Rushmore.
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Quest #2 (Quest #1 is still ongoing to eat at a Medieval Times)
Last night I looked around Rushmore and thought, humph, this looks nothing like the clips from the movie North by Northwest. Maybe I’ll be able to find the café Carey Grant ate at in the morning. Well, it was morning, and I still got nothing. So after taking the usual pics in front of the monument (the couple taking shots of the monument from the flags were the ones who took the pic of us), I approached an older looking park ranger who might know what I was talking about.

“Excuse me, have you seen the movie North by Northwest?” His look is already telling me he knows what I’m talking about, and I’m not going to like his answer.
“Yes I have.”
“Is the restaurant Carey Grant eats at around here?”

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Basically, in an attempt to modernize the place they moved the restaurant to the front and the visitors center closer to the monument and replaced all the 70’s forest-y architecture with “modern” rocky architecture. How could they do this? (I thought). We pass all these little towns bragging about having movie props from Dances with Wolves or whatever, and Mt. Rushmore friggin tears down their history for this blocky bla crap buildings with no heart or bragging rights about Carey Grant. No, all I saw was a sign (one) for “Location of Disney’s National Treasure 2” on the way to Keystone. Screw that! Just because it’s more recent doesn’t make it better. I was pissed. But the park ranger made up for it by giving me my favorite part of the trip thus far. He took out a map and gave us our entire itinerary for tomorrow (to be continued).

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So after we left talking with him, we finished up walking around Mt. Rushmore, and packed up to head for Crazy Horse down some crazy steep roads with great views.
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Everything we disliked about Mt. Rushmore... Crazy Horse did right.
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Short history: the Lakota tribe wanted the “white” man to know that the “red” man had heroes too, so they sent a letter to this guy named Korczak and asked him to make them a monument. Korczak had worked with Borglum on Mt. Rushmore, so he had experience with explosive sculpting. He accepted the job because he felt that it was the least he could do after what the “white” man had done. He also loved the quote from Crazy Horse who said when asked: “Where are your lands?” “My lands are where my dead are buried.” This is quote that goes along with Crazy Horse pointing as he rides. He is pointing to where his dead are buried. Well, Korczak worked on it for 5 years alone with a generator called Buda that would go “Ka-put, Ka-put, Ka-put” after he climbed several flights of stairs he had made up the Mt. side, and then he would have to climb back down and crank it up again. He eventually married and had 10 kids (if I remember right), and now he had help. He died before it was finished (obviously since its still in the making), but to this day his family still runs the operation, and they refuse government money (hence why it is still not done). Korczak didn’t want another Rushmore, where the government didn’t finish the vision (they were supposed to have bodies), and he believed that taxpayers shouldn’t pay for this. He believed that if it is to be built, that people should willingly give money to the project. So here is my plea, anyone who can, search online for information, I know you’ll love this place like I did, and send some money to Crazy Horse. It’s not just a monument, it is also going to be a center for education and cultural awareness for Native Americans. I’m not saying it all right of course, but look into it and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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The place was great. On top of how cool the monument is looking while its not even done (the 4 busts at Mt. Rushmore would fit inside his hair), but the buildings were all log cabin style and gorgeous. Joe found a motorcycle made in honor of the monument, and we watched a video where we got to see plenty of explosives, and then Joe had to bribe me out of the shops (which were in the midst of Native American museum artifacts) by saying we could go to the restaurant and eat. There we ran into one of the daughters of Korczak!

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I recognized her from the video as one of the 7 kids who stayed around to finish the job their father started. She was awesome! I don’t think she was used to people treating her like a celebrity though, and I feel a little funky now for how excited I was to see her. After we sat to eat she came back over to us and talked to us about our trip, and we started showing her pics and videos from the Badlands. Also, the best part in my opinion, she saw my desktop picture of the drawing Jenna made of Reivan with short hair that I superimposed in the Sedona, and she thought it was me! I didn’t think my hair looked particularly good that night, but I did have an RV to sleep in the night before, so maybe it looked that good…

We shared the rest of the salad bar with workers on the monument who were eating with Korczak's wife and some of her family in the next room over!
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Really cool in my opinion, but I feel strange again treating them like celebrities.

Then, after blogging some (no wifi yet, but offline Word works too) we watched the laser show on Crazy Horse.

It opened with different colors morphing on the monument to Native American music,

and then the laser show started where it went through the history of the place, and the history of the Native Americans, and basically it was just great. I loved it, and it was totally worth waiting all day for. Originally we were only going to stay for a few hours, but after seeing the place and hearing about the laser show, we really couldn’t leave.
That night we found the Blackhills campground and froze the night there next to a camper who made a fence around their spot with rope lights (so cool looking at night).
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Posted by - Rain 14:23 Comments (5)

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