2012.07.17 Wind Cave


We have been aching to have some hot temperatures on this vacation.  South Dakota was supposed to answer the call for us.  After all, it has been extremely hot here and they are in the middle of a drought.  So not only did we bring them some much needed rain, but the temperature was in the mid-60s when we got up today.  Mr. Sun, where are you?

This morning was full of leisure time.  We did not have much on our agenda so we did not get in a hurry.

Stephanie makes breakfast while all three kids stuck their nose in electronics.



Stephanie made biscuits in our cardboard box oven!


Miles and I enjoyed some time on the tetherball pole.  He was pretty insistent about playing me and I eventually relented.  I think I held my own pretty well, but in the interest of full disclosure, he did beat me.

Steve demonstrating his tetherball skills.


Finally, at 1:30, we pulled out of camp.  The first stop of the day was Wind Cave National Park.  It was originally known as “Wonderful Wind Cave” when it was a private enterprise.  I like the old name better.


Our remote campsite.


It has been said on our trip that the vacation doesn’t start until you go on a cave tour.  We were about to fix that problem.

Wind Cave is conveniently located on the outskirts of the Black Hills, about 20 minutes from where we are staying.  It is the most complex cave system in the world.  It has more than 95 miles of passageways located within one square mile.

Wind Cave was the country’s 7th national park, and the first one that was a cave.  Besides its complexity, it is most known for its unique formation called “boxwork”.  These are calcite deposits left behind when the limestone eroded.  They were called boxwork because the early explorers thought they looked like post office boxes.

Wind Cave is home to 95% of the world’s known boxwork.  The other 5% are found in another Black Hills cave and in the Czech Republic.

I was asked to be the caboose on this tour.  I attribute this to my trustworthy look or the fact I was last in line.  No problem, I have had experience on this vacation performing this role.

The tour lasted about one hour.  Stephanie did not care for our tour guide.  More specifically, she did not feel that she needed to hear about how the tour guide finds solace and peace when she comes down into the cave by herself.  Nor did she care for her reciting lines from the book “A River Runs Through It”.  Stephanie likes more jokes than book readings during her cave tours.


The Boxwork Formation.


Marissa kept me company at the end of the line.  At one point we passed some holes in the cave floor and I asked her how she thought they were made.  The correct answer was “water”.  Marissa’s answer was “The Hole Fairy” said with dramatic flair.

I did manage to bang my head on one of the low ceilings.  I was chatting with Marissa and never saw it. I just hope there is never a crime scene in Wind Cave because they will find my DNA.

We went back to our campsite for dinner prior to our evening visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  For once, we had fresh charcoal and it is amazing what a difference that makes.  We are still rookies at charcoal and we found that didn’t burn nearly enough.  Dinner was set back quite some time as we started up the last half of the charcoal bag.

While eating dinner, it started to rain.  A soft sprinkle at first, and then a steady rain.  This makes 10 days out of 11 that we have experienced rain on this camping trip across America.  Stephanie and I both agree that the kids have been great sports with everything we have been through.


Dinner in the rain. Now that’s camping!


We were hedging whether or not to still go to Crazy Horse, but the kids really wanted to see the Laser Light Show Spectacular they have nightly.  Why not.  We arrived about an hour before the light show so we did not have much time to look around the museum/memorial.  Fortunately, our admission includes one return trip so we’ll probably take advantage of that.

After our quick tour of the exhibit, we went back to the car and watched the laser show from the parking lot.  It lasted about 20 minutes and was okay.  There was a song about Crazy Horse, Proud to be an American by Lee Greenwood, and Native American music.

We got home at 10:30 and ate the dump cake Stephanie had made in the box oven.  The oven was soaked but the dump cake was delicious.  Goodnight to Day 11!


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