South Dakota – 2017

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We went to South Dakota to get our driver’s license expecting that both of us would be able to renew them at the same time.  Joe needed his by the end of March and mine was due at the end of September.  The rule of being a resident of South Dakota and getting a SD license is that you must stay overnight at least one night and you must prove you receive your mail in the state.  We decided to stay three nights at the campground of our mail service

(worse campground we have ever stayed at).

We gather all the paperwork we needed from our mail service and off to the DMV we went on the 28th.  Joe successfully renewed his license but not so fast for me.  I could not renew my license if it was more than 180 days before my birthday.  I missed it by 4 days.  It really was not much of a problem but the 4th day fell on Saturday and they weren’t open on Mondays so we had an extra 5 days we were stuck in Box Elder.  It turned out it wasn’t an issue at all.  We decided to move to Custer State Park, about 20 miles out of Rapid City.  Things happen for a reason and this 180 day rule put us in one of the prettiest state parks we have stayed at.  We also know what we will do in 5 years from now when our licenses are due again.

Custer State Park is very close to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and many other tourist attractions.  We have been to these several times before so we decided to skip the tourist things and just stay put in the park for the next 5 days.   The buffalo roam freely in the park but for some reason the campground we stayed in (the only one opened at this time of the year) is fence off from the buffalo.  We did have a large bull buffalo grazing on the other side of the fence one day which was fun to watch.  In the park there is an 18 mile wildlife loop which we drove one day.  There we saw many buffalo roaming freely, crossing the road in front of the truck and grazing alongside the road.  We saw many white-tail deer and herds of pronghorns on our drive.  But the best were the wild burros.  They are great beggars!  Two stood in the middle of the road stopping cars and begging for food.  We had dog treats in the truck which was fun to feed them out the window.   When you closed the window they just moved on to the next vehicle.  We know in 5 years we will be staying in Custer for our needed overnight stay in South Dakota.  We would love to stay for a week or two.

We had a few weeks before Dakotah Meadows in Prior Lake turns on their water mid-April so we stopped at a couple more South Dakota state parks.  We bought their yearly park pass at a bargain of $30.  Farm Island State Park in Pierre and Lake Vermillion in Calistoga were both very nice parks and in each of them we had a site right on a lake.  Both of them are open year round but the restroom facilities were closed for the winter.  That didn’t bother us and in both parks we found ourselves to be the only ones in the park on the first night.  People ask us if that makes us nervous being in a park alone especially when there isn’t even a ranger.  I think Joe and I were more nervous at our mail service campground where we were packed in like sardines amongst very rough looking campers.  If the surrounding area looks good we usually feel pretty safe.  I guess we use our “gut” instincts and it hasn’t been wrong yet.

Another first for us happened at Farm Island State Park.  When we checked in we asked the ranger about hiking trails and if dogs were allowed on the trails.  Many state parks don’t allow dogs on their trails.  He told us that dogs were allowed all over the park and until April 1st they didn’t require dogs to be on a leash.  But we were there after April 1st so we just assumed all dogs would be leashed.  Every evening dog owners would come out to the park; open their car door to let their one, two, three or four large dogs out of the car and drive around the park as their dogs ran alongside, in front of, or behind the car.  No one stopped to pick up their dogs “job”.  Some people came out and let their dogs just run around while they played on the playground with their kids.  And when the weekenders came out camping they didn’t leash their dogs either.  Needless to say there was much dog poop all over and it was very difficult walking Lily (on a leash).  We again had a large dog shoot across the campground and try to attack her.  Joe’s quick reaction enabled him to pick her up out of the dog’s reaches.  But one of these times Lily or one of us is going to get really hurt by these reckless dog owners.  This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves in traveling.  People just don’t think about the consequences of letting a dog run loose in a public place.  Not sure we would go back to this park just for that reason and that is too bad because it was a very nice park.So in a few days we will be back to our summer home in Minnesota and will be able to hug our Minnesota grandkids.  But it will be just a short stay because we will head off to Ohio at the end of May to see our little Vivian and celebrate her 1st birthday.  It looks like a busy summer with short trips up north and back to Ohio in September.  We can’t wait!

Stay safe!  Love to Cate, Alex, Vivian and Adalyn and our family and friends!

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