Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Journey Museum in Rapid City, SD

Written from Hermosa, SD   (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

Our last "touristy" thing to do in the Rapid City area was to visit The Journey Museum. A few of our friends Bill and Kris Osborne and  Roger and Mary Baird had recently gone and gave it "thumbs up".  We visited on a Sunday and the museum is very under used.

The museum is divided into four main areas to include the South Dakota School of Mining and Technology, the South Dakota Archaeological Research Center, the Sioux Indian Museum, and the Minnilusa Pioneer Museum.  All of these are combined to tell the story of the geological formation of the area up until the present day cultures and peoples of the area.  I will admit that I didn't pay a lot of attention to "rocks" in school and a bit of this was over my head, but the presentations were still nicely done.

I especially enjoyed the exhibits dedicated to the Lakota Indians in this area.  There were many areas dedicated to their beautiful craftsmanship involving clothing and everyday household goods.

Some of the bead work is just amazing to see.

A large part of the museum involves "hands on" exhibits for the younger folks and there are a good number of oral programs given throughout the day to help visitors better under the Lakota culture. Here is an area where a program on the tipi is given.

Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures of the pioneer days and the westward immigration of the settlers to this area, but I was able to catch Karen sitting "side saddle" on a demonstration model.

During the visit we attended four of the audio-visual presentations presented by the museum.  These were presented in the Wells Fargo Theater. Rather than take up space here, go to the above link and see for yourself.  We especially enjoyed The Journey and Lakota Star Knowledge films.

If you like local museums, this one should be put on your list for a visit.  The cost was reasonable at $10 for adults ($8 for seniors) and allows visits to return for a second day of admission.

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Historic Lantern Tour of Jewel Cave

Posted from Hermosa, SD   (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

On Saturday we drove to Jewel Cave National Monument to take a Lantern Tour led by the NPS interpreter. We visited this same cave on our visit to the area last year, but took the Scenic Tour during that visit.  While that tour was certainly very interesting, this one was certainly more adventurous.

The tour begins near the Jewel NM original visitor center.  (A short distance away from today's visitor's center).  The original cabin was home to the first ranger and served as a visitor's center at the same time in the late 1930's.

This Lantern Tour is designed to give visitors a feel for what it was like in earlier times when tours were given by lanterns prior to the installation of electric lights which are used today in the other tours. The brochure states The tour route is approximately 1/2 mile long, and includes ~600 steep wooden steps (ladder-like stairs), and requires bending and stooping.  I must say that it certainly lends a different feeling to the tour.  Our ranger was dressed in the uniform of the period, with the exception of the hat.  (The original hats were felt, but the NPS couldn't find one in his size today).  He indicated that he had been caving for 35 years and was quite knowledgeable about this cave, and caving in general.

Every other person in the group needed to carry a kerosene lantern for illumination.  The younger folks in the group were given identical lanterns, but they used battery-powered lights instead of real flames.  (A very good idea, by the way, with all of the vertical climbs and narrow stairs.)

The cave maintains a constant temperature of approximately 49 degrees. A jacket is a good idea here. Once everyone was inside the first "room" of the cave, our guide gave us the basic safety rules and asked if anyone was claustrophobic or wished to leave at this point.   We had about 10 younger folks on the tour, but no one wanted to leave.

There are many "tight areas" encountered during the tour and certainly many low ceilings.  I always manage to find these low ceilings with the top of my head.  Did it again today!

We really enjoyed this cave tour.  It was certainly different from the prior tours we had taken both here and in Wind Cave.  This one really gives you a truer feeling of what it must be like to "explore" a cave rather than just be a "tourist" in a cave.  I would highly recommend this one if you get the chance. The cost this year was $12 per person, or $6 per person with a senior pass.

This was the last day that we had a pass to visit Custer State Park, so on the way back to the campground we drove the Wildlife Loop Road for the final time. We saw many of the frequently viewed animals, but no bison today.  Prairie dogs, pronghorn antelopes, and burros are common sights every time we took this route.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Prairie Trail" in Custer State Park

Written from Hermosa, SD   (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

Yesterday we decided to take another hike in Custer State Park.  We wanted this one to be different from the previous hike and focus on more of the prairie and grasslands of the park.

Naturally, a trail named "The Prairie Trail" seemed to fit the bill.  This trail is only a bit over 2 miles in length and the elevation change was only about 400 feet.

The trail winds its way over a creek and up and down a couple of small peaks.  The real draw of this hike, however, is the views of where the prairie meets the woodlands.

This time of the year there are many different plants in bloom.  Even a prickly pear catcus was found along one of the ridges.

      Here's a view looking east along the trail.

The streams were very small, but still flowing, although it's now mid-summer in South Dakota.

The main emphasis of the trail was to show hikers where the prairies and woodlands converge. There was a nice mixture of both here.

.....and a final picture of forests leading down to the grasses.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!