Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Belle Fourche and Rapid City, South Dakota

August 22 - 28, 2016:

We are back in South Dakota again for the first time since 2012 after a 200 mile ride from Medora, North Dakota to Belle Fourche, South Dakota.  It was mostly on route 85 south through miles and miles of wheat farms, cattle ranches, open prairie and grassland.  There are only a couple of small towns along this route, it’s a lonely open road.  At Belle Fourche, we turn onto route 212 for a few miles to the Rocky Point Recreation Area.  It's a campground on the Belle Fourche Reservoir which is a popular boating and fishing area.  It's only a one night stop for us as we have been here before.
We head off for a short tour of downtown Belle Fourche with the temperature near 100 degrees.  It immediately brings back memories, some good, some bad, but always interesting.  We find a great fabric / quilt store, The Bakery Fabrics, in an old bakery building. It was most interesting as they left many of the original bakery fixtures in place. There was the original wall baking oven, a 1950 calendar, the original bread racks being used to display fabric, the original dough mixer and several cabinets.  We then stopped in a antique shop filled with really good stuff at decent prices, we ended up buying a couple of classic old Chuck McMalloy books.

Real family fun ?

Downtown Belle Fource is the geographic center of the
Continental  US

A great old building on the main street that needs to be saved,
I liked the painted scenes in the windows

The Bakery and Fabrics shop gets my award for best
repurpose of an old building, note the old Tri-State Bakery
sign on the wall

The Bake Oven with rolls of fabric stacked in front

Good finds !!!

Tuesday morning amidst high winds we are off to Rapid City, South Dakota, sort of our official home base, where we plan to spend at least 5 days.  We find Rapid City looking more vibrant than we remembered from the past.  We were here for a brief visit in early September 2012 as reported in a blog post for Box Elder, South Dakota.  We return to the Prairie Edge Trading Company, one of the best ever shops for for quality American Indian art objects.

A beautiful building and fantastic shop

We are sort of regrouping here, getting our mail, doing laundry, banking, oil changes, car wash and shopping.  We have a full hookup campsite at the Three Flags RV Park, a few miles from downtown, very convenient to everything.  It does’t look like much, but they accept Passport America with no limits, have full hookup sites, laundry and a good shower room.  The road noise wasn’t bad and overall we would stay there again.

Rapid City is really a nice city with a vibrant downtown, nice shops and restaurants and with the huge Mall and associated chain and big box stores on the outskirts.

The Main Street Square area is a great spot

One of our first stops is the Firehouse Brewing Company

They have one of the greatest Hobby Shops anywhere 

Wonderful Indian Sculpture in front of Prairie Edge Store

Rapid City has statues of all 50 US Presidents
on street corners around town.  That's Jefferson
in front of a great old building

Great neon sign on the South Dakota
Stock growers Association

Lots of wheat farms remain

There is an Art Alley that is about covered with
street art of all kinds

They try and usually succeed in adding character
to the Presidential statues such as this one of
President Taft who in younger days was a good
baseball pitcher

On Thursday evening we went to downtown Rapid City for their Summer Concert series with several food and drink vendors, two stages with live music, and kiddie activities.  It was well attended, the music was good and was one of the better town events we have attended this year.

Concert at the Main Street Square

On our previous stay in Rapid City, we missed the Journey Museum, but not this time.  Happy to say it was a great one, not to be missed, one of the best all year !  They had a special exhibit on Mt. Rushmore that was full of information on the design, planning, construction, funding and politics of the project.  

South Dakota is a leading state for Dinosaur fossils

A painting of Mandan Indian Earth Lodges

Fool Bull was a legendary warrior

Dr. Valentine T. McGillycuddy was an amazing man.
Army surgeon, banker, educator, public health physician
and agent of the Red Cloud Reservation.  He also was 
President of the School of Mines and Mayor of 
Rapid City.

Captain Jack Crawford was known as the Poet Scout of the
Black Hills

Battiste Good was the winter count keeper for the  Brule Sioux
tribe.  His family recored in this journal for generations using
using one picture each year 

Depiction of Wild Bill Hickock's death, shot during a poker
game holding pairs of ace's and eights, which has since been
known as the "Dead Mans Hand".

I take a ride to Deadwood, South Dakota on Saturday afternoon to find that there is a huge weekend classic car show event going on, the Kool Deadwood Nights, with portions of the downtown closed off for a concert headliner by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.   There are hundreds of show cars, thousands of people and people have set up their chairs on the closed off street for about a four block area although the concert is several hours away.  They have a huge stage set up with lighting and a large viewing screen set so people in the rear can see the stage.  Obviously, they do this often, as it all looks very professional.  Deadwood with its historical buildings, casinos, restaurants and saloons is fairly overwhelming by itself, when you throw in hundreds of classic cars, a music concert and the resulting crowds it becomes almost too much.  Most people have interest mainly in the cars they had or wanted to have in their youth, hence the interest in 1960’s muscle cars and custom hot rods.  I’m a bit strange in that I am mostly interested in the 1930 - 1950’s cars and don’t care much for the muscle cars or hot rods.  I don’t know what the youth of today will find interesting in years to come.  I suppose the car show thing will just slowly die out, as todays cars basically are all the same and have no charisma at all. 

A small sample of the cars on display

This I feel might be the most interesting car at the show.  It's a
1920 something Ford with an original four cylinder engine
highly modified with many parts that had to be modified to fit.

Something about the simplicity of this appealed to me

Deadwood is full of beautiful buildings like this

I think some of these people camped out here overnight
to get a good seat

I kept going back and forth from the cars to the architecture

A classic South Dakota license plate

Stopped for a beer at Wild Bill's Place

The concert is started

$2 beersand cheap Sturgis tee shirts

The sidewalks are getting crowded

We can’t get over all the South Dakota license plates here, as we have traveled all over the western states the only South Dakota people we run into are full time RV people.  “Real” South Dakota residents don’t seem to leave the state ?  People are always ogling our license in other states like they have never seen South Dakota plates before.

Dinosaur Park in Rapid City is a National Historic Site, built in the 1930 by the
 WPA and quite a remarkable park.  It's mostly a children's park, but the statues are pretty cool.  They have this incredible store filled with inexpensive stuff that kids love, cheap drinks and ice cream, super family friendly.

Twinkles posing in front of a Traceratops

Up close view

Rapid City also has an impressive Convention Center and Memorial Park.  In 1972, the Rapid City area suffered a 500 year rain storm that turned small Rapid
Creek into a monster River overnight.  It washed away hundreds of houses, cars and businesses in it's flood plane with 238 people being killed.  In the aftermath it was decided to turn this entire area into park land.

The entrance to Memorial Park

The tame Rapid Creek

Rapid City Convention Center

The next stop is Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota,
Twinkles and Slick

No comments:

Post a Comment