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MONDAY - We were in no hurry to pack up and leave camp today. As mentioned before we only have 16 miles to move today to the other side of the Black Hills National Forest.

We didn't even change zip codes! We did drive through the town of Custer, SD during today's move, but while towing THE POD there was no where we could park. We'll have to come back tomorrow for lunch.

This campsite is very similiar to the one we just left, valut toilets, trash removal and water spigots spread throughout the campsites. The two noticeable differences between campgrounds is our last site was paved and fairly level, while the one we have here is gravel and no where near level. The other difference, the last one was $12 a night and this one is only $9.50, those are both half price quotes thanks to our Lifetime Senior Pass discount.

After having lunch in THE POD we drove 6-miles up the road to Jewel Cave National Monument. They have a cave tour ticket booth set up in the parking lot and just on a whim I inquired if there were any FCFS tickets left for today, it was only 2:00PM and they don't close until 5:00, with the last tour starting at 3:40PM.

I could have sworn I heard a small chuckle escape the Rangers mouth before he told me there were none available. He then told me to come back before 8:00AM tomorrow and inquire again. I explained I already had reserved tickets for the 8:40AM tour tomorrow and he quickly asked if I would be giving them up. That answer would be a Big Fat NO!

We toured the Visitor Center and watched a very well produced 22-minute film about the discovery and ongoing exploration of the cave. We then got my Passport Book stamped and returned to the campsite.

TUESDAY - We set an alarm for 7:00AM, but awoke before it went off. We don't want to be late for our tour time because we may not be able to catch another tour today.

When we arrived at 7:45AM, a full hour before our tour, there were already a dozen or more people standing in the FCFS same day ticket line. The ticket booth doesn't open until 8:00AM and we were the only people standing in the reserved ticket line.

By the time 8:00AM rolled around there was one person who had joined us in the reserved ticket line and another 4-5 had lined up hoping to get tickets for this morning's tours.

There was a small sign stating the first available FCFS tickets today were for the 9:40AM Scenic Tour and 10:30AM for the Discovery Tour. The Discovery Tour is a wheelchair accessible tour where basically you ride the 3-story elevator down to the first room just outside the doors and listen to a 20-minute Ranger Talk about the geology of the cave before returning topside to complete the tour. It's only $6 and gives everyone a chance to experience what a cave looks like first hand.

Our Scenic Tour is a little different! We take the same elevator down to the same room, but then we begin a ½-mile loop trail that traverses some 734 stairs (thankfully most of them down) before riding the elevator back to the top. This tour takes nearly 1½-hours to complete, as there are a lot of opportunities to stop and rest and listen to the Ranger speak about the cave.



This is the very beginning of the tour DOWN into the cave.

Jewel Cave got it's name from the calcite crystals that can be found literally everywhere.

The first discovers thought these were quartz crystals, which usually means gold is nearby.

Most of these crystals are 4-5 inches thick.

Like I said, they are everywhere in the cave.


Here we found some stalactites and drapery formations among the calcite crystals.

This was probably the most beautiful and diverse section of the cave.

How about this 20' long piece of cave bacon!

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SATURDAY - You may be wondering, why are we visiting the Oreville Campground in the Black Hills National Forest?

The campground is just a stones throw away from the busy 4-lane US Highway 385/16 which makes it very noisy during the day and late into the evening. It also has no electric, no water or dump station utilities to fill and empty our tanks, or awesome views like our previous site.

What it does have is the fact that it's only a 4½-mile drive down US Highway 385 from the entrance to the Crazy Horse Memorial and that's why we're here.

Normally we would wait until tomorrow to get out and sightsee, but the weather forecast is not looking favorable to any outdoor activities tomorrow.

So around 5:00PM we loaded into ROVER and drove down to check out the memorial site. The first order of business was to grab some dinner and then check out the entire complex they have built around the memorial.

There are three separate museums here, a gift shop, a learning center, a theater and most importantly a restaurant.

A view of the Crazy Horse Memorial from just inside the entrance gate.

A zoomed in view from the same location.

Once you have found a parking space, walked into the Welcome Center, passed through the first museum, then the gift shop, you finally end up in this beautiful courtyard where you'll find the restaurant, a stage where they perform Indian dance and storytelling demonstrations, and several viewing scopes for checking out the progress on the mountain carving.

The carving of the mountain began 75-years ago in 1948. Progress is slow, currently a crew of only 10 carvers and 8 engineers are working at any given time. They only work 4½ days a week, Monday through Friday at noon, and when lightening is detected within a 15-mile radius of the mountain all work must stop and the mountain vacated for a minimum of 30-minutes. If another lightening strike occurs, the timer is reset for another 30-minutes.

That means more work is accomplished in the freezing winter season than the summer thunderstorm season, which we will be experiencing tommorow.

The central courtyard with the restaurant on the right, gift shop and stage on the left.

We each chose one of the two "specials" for dinner.
My Tatanka (buffalo) Stew on the left and Tricia's Native American Taco on the right.
We also sampled the Raspberry Kuchen [not pictured] for desert (the official state desert).

This 1/34 scale model of the finished carving can also be found on the courtyard.

This courtyard is as close as you're going to get to the mountain unless you purchase a $5 bus ride that will take you right up to the base. There is also a $125 option that is offered that will bring you up to the upper terrace, basically on top of Crazy Horse's outstretched arm. We chose the $5 bus ride!

Even standing at the base of the mountain you are still a great distance away from the carving.

Lucky for us, Tricia has her new 10X zoom Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra cell phone with her.

With all the facial detail carved into the solid rock no wonder it's taking so long.

Check out the wrinkle details in the thumb joint and nail cuticle.
This is the area they are currently actively carving.

During the summer season they display a laser light show that is projected onto the side of the mountain. We were told by the bus driver this will be the last year this is offered. The equipment for the light show is 40+ years old and in need of replacement.

The light show itself is very dated (1980s), but at the time stretched the capabilities of the equipment. Starting next season these funds will be redirected towards something more current, but as yet haven't been announced.

The mountain, illuminated at night, just before the 8:30PM light show and soundtrack began.
(as seen from the upper parking lot through our windshield) [just like at the drive-in theater].

SUNDAY - The weather forecast today seems to be spot on. Just as predicted at 10:30AM this morning the clouds started building, the thunder started clapping and then the rain started falling from the skies.

I'm so glad we went to see the Crazy Horse Memorial yesterday while under such clear skies.

We will be moving on tomorrow, just 16 miles down the highway to another Black Hills National Forest campground, this time to see something underground, so the weather won't be a factor.

There is more to the story than I can tell here, but what I truly found inspiring about the whole Crazy Horse Memorial is the dedication of the man that Chief Henry Standing Bear, and the other Lakota tribal leaders, hired to actually carve the memorial.

Little did they know when the offered the job to Korczak Ziolkowski that they would be hiring an entire family for generations to come. The tribal leaders took it as a sign, that since Korczak was born 31-years to the day after Crazy Horse was murdered, he was the correct choice.

Korczak, his wife Ruth, and their 10 children (5 boys and 5 girls) all worked in one way or another to help carve the mountain. When Korczak passed away in 1982 his wife continued to administer the foundation funding the carving effort. The children, who had all been working on the mountain for some 30+ years at this point, continue the work on the mountain to this day.

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THURSDAY - Badlands National Park is pretty much surrounded by the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands property that is managed by the United States Forest Service. There is only one developed campground in this National Grassland and the location where we are camped in is not it.

Just ¾-mile outside of the Pinnacles Entrance of Badlands National Park is one of the premiere FREE camping locations in the entire country. It has been rated a 5-STAR destination on Campendium by most of it's 233 reviewers and a Campers Choice Winner for each of the last 2-years. It has been unofficially named "Nomad View" by the RVing community.

Why "Nomad View"?
I believe these next six campsite photos will help clear that up!

We've got no plans to go anywhere for the next two days. The only reason we unhooked ROVER from THE POD was to raise the front end of the trailer high enough to get level.

With just over 2-miles of gravel road along the rim of the badlands here there is no need to camp close to anyone else.

FRIDAY - Tricia made a good point yesterday when she proposed that since the truck and trailer were already disconected we should go ahead and drive the 8-miles into town and have dinner.

Who am I to argue with sound reasoning like that!

When we got back from dinner around 7:00PM the clouds behind THE POD where amazing.

7:00PM last night

6:00AM this morning

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