Ep. 9 Adventure in the Dakota's
Hey everyone mike here from we. Rv the millers. If you haven't heard about anchor it's the easiest way to make a podcast. Let me explain. It's free the creation tools that allow you to record at your podcast right for your phone. Your computer will distribute your podcast for. You can be heard on spotify podcasts. In many more you can make money from your podcast with no minimum listenership and everything you need to make. A podcast is in one convenient place. Download the free anchor app or go to anchor dot. Fm to get started. mike. I'm ashley we are chilly. They keep telling us. We're gonna have snow. But i'll believe it when i see it. You wanna see snow with move back up to the great lakes now. I've never lived there. I don't wanna move there where they do have snow. Where north dakota today. We wanna talk to you about two states that you might not think about visiting but we visited and fell in love with the sites that we took in there. That was some amazing country to drive through. It really was. And i was not expecting to love south dakota and north dakota as much as we did visiting there and the wind. They're not kidding when they say gets windy on the plains there's some wind thankfully not much of our stay was on the planes but yeah that definitely was an issue. We took our first big trip out west two years ago now. Three years three summers ago. Now man that long ago and we are first. Big stop was in south dakota. Did you ever watch little house on the prairie growing up. No i'm not into that kind of stuff. I definitely watched it with my mom occasionally and read some of the books. But it's not something. That's huge in our household. Now but during the research of south dakota and trying to get out there from delaware hall we stumbled onto a museum called the homestead in dismissed south dakota. This is not something that i'd expected to enjoy not really. I knew the story of little house on the prairie but actually going to the homestead that was actually a very cool experience and they don't really have a ton of spots for you to experience it overnight but i was surprised that they even had spots overnight. So this ingles homestead is a living history museum and they also allow camping there. They have four. Rv sites that have water and electric and it was for us really inexpensive at about thirty dollars a night and the site was up on the hill. So you could see out over the homestead in for at least two three months. If you don't have a camper they also had other ways that you could stay overnight in the homestead how cool those covered wagons. Look it was so cool. It was like a tent site that was built into a covered wagon that you could rent for like sixty to seventy dollars a night when i checked their website and that i mean that would really give you that. True traveling out west experience minus the indoor plumbing. Let's not push it that far. I mean you're not walking the miles a day in that but it was still cool. The also had a bunk house like a cabin that you could run for eighty dollars a night or you could just set up your own tent for about ten dollars a night on the homestead. They did have bathroom and shower facilities for you if you didn't have your own camper but what was even cooler was the actual them when you were there and being able to access everything overnight. Once everybody left. That was a really neat experience for me. I'm sure for you. But definitely for the kids to have basically the run of the place once they close to the general public so on the homestead they have a covered wagon ryan to be able to get you to the schoolhouse. That is not the exact schoolhouse that laura ingalls wilder taught in that unfortunately burned down but they rebuilt it and moved it to the homestead. So you could take a covered wagon ride to that. They pony in pony cart rides for the kids. They also showed you how they did. Rope twisting and my goodness. Our kids played with those ropes. The entire trip for the rest out west and then when we got home and they also meet some corncob dole's so you could see what kids would play with out west during that time period which was neat in an itself. Because you don't really think of well. What are the kids. Do for fun when you're travelling in a wagon out west. It's a lot different than what we're traveling out west. You can't just throw a movie in the players. They had all these cool little games that they could do. The one that the big wheel ring the kids had with the stick try was kind of cool to. I'm on the homestead. They have a recreation of the house. That the ingalls family lived in the bar nets there and they actually had animals a like. I said the schoolhouse. There's also a church that is still in use. That is part of the museum and of course they have a gift shop with everything in anything. You could buy related to little house on the prairie but it was just really fun to stop and See part of history and be able to stay there and have the run of the police. Like mike said overnight. Now one tip about this place is make sure you have everything you need for one night or two nights day. If that's how you're gonna be there because it legitimately is in the middle of nowhere. The town that is nearby has one restaurant a post office and a grocery store. That really isn't that great of a grocery store. Yeah but there's things there and then there's some other Ingles related stops that you could go to. We didn't take anything there because we stayed on the homestead. We were there for two nights just because we got there really late. The first night than spent the day at the museum the next And spent overnight before we would leave but it was just a fun experience. Especially if you're interested in the ingalls family at all and then leaving. There was an adventure because the road that you're not getting right back on the highway. You're getting on one of those. Let's state highway. I guess is what they're called. It's not really a gravel dirt road for a while that were we were driving with the With the camper. That was not too fun. The madonna's bad as the one that we experienced up in northern pennsylvania when that was my fault on that rude so we left. This met and our next stop was hill. City south dakota and if you have never been there before we spent five nights there and it was not enough for us. It absolutely wasn't there is. That is a great location to serve as a base camp to explore the western part of south dakota and let me tell you about beauty of the outdoors. The amount of national parks that we were able to get to at hill city. South dakota was amazing. And we're going to quickly talk about the camps resort that we stayed at to be able to use our base camp. Now there are hotels there that you could stay at but this campground that we stayed at. I have not been to a better one. I don't think this may be the nicest campground we've been to. In the course of four and spacious. I mean the amount of space from being out west that the land was cheaper at the time not very developed. The amount of space at this campground was astounding. And i enjoyed the campground. Because when you first pulling you're pulling in right off the main road and hill city and i pulled in And we're gonna hear all these trucks in the construction. No because the entrance to the camp ground is a salad half mile. Three quarters of a mile before you actually enter the actual campground itself. It's like the long ranch driveway. That you see on the tv shows like if you're watching dallas or yellowstone or something. They have the mile long driveway. Before you actually get to where you're going so. The place that we stayed is called rafter. J ranch in hill city south dakota we stayed at a full hookup or site which meant that. We had water and electricity and the sewer hookup but they lots of different levels of rv sites. I see since we went. They actually have premium sites with concrete pads and tables and chairs at now that you can rent but looking at their new information depending on the style of rv site that you're looking for it's gonna cost you between sixty four and ninety nine dollars a night which is not bad considering the location. You're at everything you're around and the amenities at rafter. J are pretty phenomenal. The pool was also and it was heated which was really nice not counting even the hot tub that they had. But if you don't have an rv and you're interested in checking out the rafter j ranch. They do have tent camping Or they have cabins that you can rent. And there was quite the spread of cabins where you could choose extremely rustic cabins from about eighty three dollars a night. All the way up to it was called like a ranch house style cabin which looked super fancy for about two hundred forty dollars a night and these are offered the peak seasons so this is in the middle of summer from june to august that everybody wants to go out there because the weather was beautiful. You forget that they get feet of snow in the wintertime and Just wanna stay there forever now. We unfortunately were out there peak-time because we were out there over the fourth of july holiday which was an amazing experience in and of itself. But you can definitely see that they do get feet of snow because some of the roads actually had signs road closed october first to march first or snowmobile traffic. Only during this time and that's a lot of snow for talking. That's how you get so at rafter. J bar ranch. They have some of those amenities that mike was talking about. They have a playground for the kids. That was really nice. Nicely setup. they have back houses. They have a snack bar by the pool. That you could also get some food at For dinner if you didn't want to cook they have wi fi throughout the campground. They have camped security. They do have a dump station. If you didn't get one on your site if you need to fill up some propane gas they have that available a really nice ranch store there and then over the weekend they even host pancake breakfasts. That people went to that was just a few dollars. It was totally affordable. And worth it to go there. It wasn't we unfortunately. Were there during the week so we only heard other people talking about it but not many campgrounds offer that amenity which is nice especially giving where you are. It's not like you can just walk across the street to the diner. Whatever because it's kind of on a busy highway that goes through hill city. But you do have to go a mile or so before you find anything like a gas station which i had to had venture out and when mike says busy highway. It's not like in the east here for us of busy highway when we turned into rafter j bar and it was a four four lane highway two lanes going each direction and we had to make a left to leave it with the camper and i was like. Oh my gosh. There is no way working to be able to get through these four lanes to be able to turn left onto this highway. Let me tell you if we saw a car every five minutes it was a big day so busy highways they are not like busy highways out out out west now we charles rafter j bar because it was a beautiful park it had been recommended through a facebook campaign group that were a part of and it was also a fantastic base camp for all of the parks national parks in store sites that we wanted to visit. Would we visit like six or seven national parks and the state parkway we were there. It was five national parks and one state park and the state park in itself. You could spend days at just exploring everything and we have talked about. If we go back to that area we want to spend a lot of time in the state park. And i even wanna try to stay in the state park they actually had in state park custer state park which will talk about the second even lodges that you could say there that looked beautiful but the closest state park to rafter. J bar in south dakota was thirty minutes away and it is jewel cave. Joel can is the third largest cave in the world or the longest cave in the world right now. It is closed because their doing work on the elevator. Their website says that they're going to be open. Probably the summer of twenty twenty one. But if you're out in that area you definitely want to check out. Jewel cave the drive out. There was nice too because you could. You could look up into the mountains to try to see wildlife as you're driving along the road and then you sudden nerve the staring at national park that you didn't see coming the next one in it's very similar with it was forty minutes away. Kind of in the other direction was wind cave. Which is the first national park for caves the first cave national park. They offer not only cave tours but they have so hiking available above the cave where you can see so much wildlife like bison that they have roaming there if you're gonna go to jewel cave in wind cave. We highly recommend that you wake up early and you get there when they are opening so that you can get your ticket to get into the cave because tickets do sell out fast for these cave tours and a little tip to its chilly in the cave. It may be ninety degrees outside. But you're in the cave and it's easily in the fifties. You're gonna wanna have a long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt with you and probably a hat. Keep the water off your head. Because it's wet down there you don't realize it but you're underground and the chances of you getting wetter. There next park that we went to was closer. It was only twenty minutes away. And that was mount rushmore. Okay that should be on everybody's bucket list to at least see it in person. One time the pictures that you see in your history books or when you're watching tv shows don't do the mountain justice. It is amazing now. We only took a half day to go see mount rushmore and that was more than enough for us to look at the museum aspect of and to be able to walk outside now. One of the parts of mount rushmore. When we went out was closed the there was an artist trail the sculptor studio. That was closed at the time. But there were still plenty to see if you're going to take a half day to see mount rushmore. We highly recommend that you do the second half of the day so that you're there at night the nighttime ceremony that they do every night is amazing. It truly is a here in this huge outdoor theatre. The mountain is in the background behind the stage. There was what maybe a twenty minute video program and then they had the veterans that were in the audience assists with the flags at the end of the night and it was just something to behold keep. We were there for the fourth of july. And i never realized how much i wouldn't care that i didn't see fireworks at year until we saw that like that replaced it and nothing else will ever come close to that it's periods so my rushmore is cool. You definitely want to go see it but half day is really all you need now. If you're adventurous and up for a little longer of a drive about ninety minutes away you can hit. The badlands and there is a lot to see in the badlands. The babylonians is about two hundred and forty four thousand acres. And most of what you're seeing there are rock formations and Fossils and wildlife. That are all through the badlands. The name badlands. Even though it looks beautiful there is from the lakota tribes word for that area that the word translated to badlands. Just something funny from its own website from the badlands national park website. That went in one thousand nine hundred twenty two. It was first proposed as a national park. The suggested name was wonderland national park. Why gives a little different connotation for it. Now when you go to the badlands you must bring lots and lots of water sunscreen and sunscreen. It is so hot there you remember. What the rangers said to us when we asked yes because it was what like ninety six ninety eight degrees and she said it was actually. Yeah this is really cool. A cool temperature like god. We are sweating the other thing to explore the balancer some trails and stuff. You can walk on but pay attention. Because we were walking around and delaney. Our youngest just happened to go. Oh look there's a deer and there was a baby. Deer tucked up underneath one of the rocks in the shade that everybody was just walking by except she saw it and there was. Yeah so you get to see. Lots of wildlife at the badlands. The colors of the rack formations are amazing. They have great ranger programs. They are to learn about the fossil and the animals that used to live a long time ago. that are extinct there now. but it it is definitely really cool to see you know. What else was cool when we were out at. The badlands was right outside the entrance to the badlands. Minute man missile site. I know and we didn't even know that that national historic site was there. We just as we were turning right to go to the badlands. We happen to see a sign pointing to the left saying minuteman missile national historic site and we said Okay i guess we'll check that out of the way out now. I knew that was a chance. Because that's where a lot of those. Missile sites are there in the middle of the country. But i didn't realize that one would be right outside the entrance of a national park now. The thing that was to remember about this place is a. The museum is one location. But they have an offsite actual silo tour. That's a little bit away. But you need tickets in advance for and we just happened to get there too late in the day and they didn't have any tickets available to be able to go to the actual silo site but the museum itself was really a walk back in the time it was crazy and it was interesting for our kids to see the history because they had never really learned about the cold war. They're also still young But it was just really interesting to see now and mike says. Get your tickets in advance. We're not talking about the morning going and getting tickets. They open up tickets ninety days in advance to get into the silo tour. It's like going to disney. You gotta give six months in advance so right now. They're not doing the silo tours. Where you go down into the Into the actual silo you can just go to it But if you're planning for future trips and you know that you're going to be going there and you wanna to see the mission control area in. The silo definitely remembered ninety days in advance to go get those tickets. So we've discussed a lot of south dakota already and quite a bit of that is in our memory. Banks being some of the coolest stuff that we have seen. I don't think i'll remember driving up the entrance to the parking lot of walter. Kazak place was ridiculously. Hugh now wall drug as we were driving in south dakota four hundreds of miles before we got there as we are driving across the state we would see billboards advertising this and free ice water which i guess when you're traveling out west back in the day that's something you're gonna wanna stop and get and it's definitely nostalgia. Four wall drug it originally opened in nineteen thirty one and during the great depression which this is peak. Time that they're opening up people didn't have much and they definitely didn't have ice or a way to get any Any of that so to get people to come visit the their big thing was free ice water. When you go to wal drug now you can still get free ice water. I think it's still like nickel coffee or tencent coffee. They have dining. They have different activities for the kids. Like we took pictures of our kids on jack. Lopes out there that were giant dinosaur. That scared the bejesus at every metron dinosaur. That looked like it was coming out of jurassic park and so many gifts and souvenirs that are there. If you can think of an item you can find it at wall drug. Well maybe not a kitchen sink but they did have pretty much everything else now to give you an idea of how big wall drug is for wall. South dakota wall. South dakota has eight hundred year year. Long residence wall drug pulls about two million visitors every year. That's ridiculous that's crazy. That's the kind of draw that it has so definitely. If you have. I would say thirty minutes. You need to make sure you do that. Thirty minutes it might take thirty minutes. They have tons of free parking though but there are so many people that are there. It's definitely You're gonna it's gonna take some time to walk through all of it. It was not a national park that we went to but the last part that we wanna talk about that was about forty minutes away from rafter j more that we stayed was custer state park custody. Part was amazing. We hadn't really even looked at all into it because we're focusing on national parks and just said okay. Let's let's go check the south now. It's a state park. So you have to pay an admission fee but you're emission fee. You can do it for multiple days at a time which was nice because we actually ended up dropping in and out of there a couple of times why we were there just to explore different sections other state park because it's not a tiny state park it's massive immune it's got a herd of bison that live in there they had a lot of different visitors centers throughout custer state park and the visitor centers would focus on different parts lake hiking areas. They had a lot of different water activities like fishing and boating and then the wildlife like mike said the bison and the prairie dogs that are there it was just beautiful and the blue skies out. There we really lucky with the weather. We as we've said before. Focus on the junior ranger badges and the programs for the kids when we traveled to these national parks custer state park even had one for the state park so the kids were able to focus on some hikes and some ranger program so they could earn it a a patch instead of a badge. But that's still on their pin boards and had a lot of fun learning about that area and the program. They did which was weather related. I enjoy like normally i kind of zone out when the kids are doing their their programs but i was actually engaged in what the ranger was talking about the weather because when you're in that part of the country the weather is a lot different than what we see here on the east coast because it is more open. It doesn't get. The weather can become very violent very fast when we got to the end of our five days at rafter j bar. We really didn't wanna leave because we felt like we didn't have enough time at custer state park and wanted to stay a bit longer but you know me. We had a scheduled keep and we had to leave there. So we could go north into north dakota and what was in north dakota but teddy roosevelt national park. Teddy roosevelt national park is broken. Up into two separate units which are very different. They have a north unit and they have a south unit. And don't be confused because their area of north dakota also has the badlands so it's not part of the national park. That's in south dakota. The balance refers to the type of ground. That is there and it's not great for anything else. Other than exploring we stayed right outside. The south unit in madurai north dakota. We didn't end up going to the northern unit. Just because we we only stayed like two or three nights and again with the travelling time we got there late in the afternoon we spent the one day travelling into the southern unit and then we had a fun activity the next night but the madore campground that we stayed at outside. It was right outside the national park entrance. The rv sites start at they run from like thirty to forty nine dollars a site. But there's a reason for that because you are right up on your neighbor like. I don't even think we could extend our honor. That's how close we were to the camper next to us. The this is the smallest site campground. We have ever stayed at for the couple next to us. We're pretty cool yes. They were very nice but like mike said we extend our awning now. If you don't know Rv awning there was a picnic table in between the in our site that we could not turn it with wise. That was how close the the campers were so that was disappointing. How close the the campsites were they have about one hundred and fifty campsites at this methodmore campground. They do have a dump station. If you don't have the sewer hookup on your site. They do have a playground so that was nice was for the kids to be able to go to. It wasn't a great playground but it was there. They did have cabins available but the reason that we chose. This place was because we weren't going to be there very long and it was next to the entrance of the national park. Literally i could have thrown a softball from art site. Thrown it into the national park. That's how close we were and the drive through the national park at night when we saw the horses and the star search come out. That was amazing. So in the national park they have A teddy roosevelt national park. There's lots of hiking opportunities Teddy roosevelt went through a lot of different phases in his life. He was a cattle rancher for awhile and so you can see one of the ranch houses that he lived in in one of his Business ventures there so there was a there was a great program outside their to learn a little bit more about teddy roosevelt. If you've ever heard teddy roosevelt with the bull moose party where he was trying to run for president again with the progressives he gets shot in his speech and continues his speech said no one can put me down on a strong as a bull moose. They have that under shirt with the bullet hole in the museum that you can see history nerd me took a picture of it and i share with my students. We learn about the progressive era. Not only learning about teddy roosevelt but the wildlife the horses the bison that he loved they have a great view. As you're driving through the park to see these animals that that road that perimeter road that goes around the park at least on the south end that it's a big loop but when you hit up the crests to the i'm gonna call it a hill it's not. It's probably more than ill. But man you can see for days and then the wild horses were just right up on. The road and delaney is our horse fanatic. She wanted to take them all home. She wanted to ride one just wanted to know. Gotta stay in the car. And then the cool thing that i remember about that delaney had fallen asleep. Mackenzie was kind of asleep. Remember the porcupine that fronted us in the in the railroad that we try to take a nighttime drive through the park and it was really late because the sun doesn't go down until late at night the further west and north you go so we tried to go see stars in the middle of the park because it would be really dark there and saw so much wildlife including like mike said this porcupine that as we were driving he had to slow down and stop because the porcupine to the middle of the room and it thought we were attacking it so it was doing handstands in the middle of the road to put. Its quills up thinking it could quail the car if it got too close. I don't think i've ever that that was so cool. That was so cool but we had a lot of fun. The next night with an activity that we went to that we had found online booked. So i'm a state guy. I love barbecues. I tried to find local barbecue joints wherever we're going this one. I had to experience for myself. It was the pitchfork steak fondue. And i say pitchfork steak fondue they literally put your stake on a pitchfork and dunk it into this huge cast iron out of oil to cook it and man was that cool to see it was good it was not only the stakes but there was a buffet with all the fixings. They say there were potatoes and vegetables and rolls and all that Lots of dessert options as well. And you got to watch them cooking the stakes as you were getting in line to go through the buffet and then it was all open air seating outside so make sure again. You have sunscreen or a hat. Because the sun's going down it gets quite hot and bright out there and there is a i guess a hollywoodish kind of sign that they have often a in the distance. It says madora on it. There is an entertainment shows theater. That's attached to the outdoor dining experience. We didn't do the show. We didn't want to an early morning the next day because we were driving across montana. We want to stay up too late and but there are separate tickets at a lot of people that were going there. They went to the stake fondue dinner and then went to see the musical show afterwards and that again is all open. Air sees seating so You had to make sure that the weather was holding out for you but it was just a lot of fun to go out there and sit at family style tables and talk to people and meet people. There were some different areas interesting people. We met that night and i'm sure they say the same thing about us. Honey oh we are the yankees that were out in north dakota that when we tell them. We're from delaware. They wanna know where that is or Yeah it was interesting. Yeah we'll leave it at that so that that pretty much wraps are north dakota south dakota adventure. So we're gonna get the kids and see what they have to share about their remembrances of that. And what makes it cool for a kid to go to. South dakota north dakota so that and i just finished talking about our adventures and south dakota and the north dakota and we wanted to get your opinion about why kids should be excited to travel to south dakota north dakota in what we saw in the ingalls. Homestead there They had kittens. You could play with god. You guys wanted to steal those and then sense. We were camping there. We still like after like. Was it a park like after museum. After the museum closed we could still go there And then that's when the kittens would come out and it was really fun so they had the cat and the kittens that would deal with the rodents and the barn. And oh my gosh. That's where the kids spent most of their evening time with those kittens. And then wasn't it in north dakota that it was like four. National parks buyer campground. South dakota l. Those still south dakota. We did to jewel cave. Wind cave the badlands. Mount rushmore the minute man missile silo and then we did custer state park yeah Because we were at mount rushmore for fourth of july. but they didn't do Fireworks this time but the lighting ceremony was really cool. Yeah we talked about that. That was cool. Wasn't it yeah The caves were really cool to. I know and they were really different. Formations jewel cave definitely had lots of different colors and lots of different types of formations wind cave had one type of formation but it was a lot different of a hike then underneath the jewel cave was but they both really cool. I definitely say like remember jackets because it got pretty cold. That's a daddy said to. I know dad had to put his hat backwards when he was under there so we could actually see and not bump head on everything. Yeah 'cause they got like low at some points you might not fit and some of those sections of the cave now. Because you've gotten so tall. If i pay you could be. I mean that many and then where did you guys get your The prairie dogs stuffy. She's we saw the prairie dogs in both state both in custer in a customer anna teddy roosevelt but so many prairie dogs custer mccaw stor. Yeah because i remember that we saw them and then we like we ll online. Yeah they were really cute. So much. wildlife to see lately there weren't as many bison est hoping because you're like oh we kept missing the heard they have. This giant heard there that we saw an amazing part of the one of the intro visitor videos missing the heard you know what else we didn't see when we were out there and i was disappointed. I don't see a big horn once the bighorn sheep. Oh yeah and then we into like is big. So would you recommend for kids to go and travel. South dakota north dakota that it keeps your interest yet definitely. Thanks thank you welcome. We want to end today with our quick tip as we always do. Especially if you have a kid who is ending fourth grade and heading into fifth grade. This is a great opportunity for you to explore all of our national parks so there is a federal government program that is called every kid outdoors and it's four kids that are ending fourth grade and heading into fifth grade. That's available through august of twenty twenty one now every kid outdoors. It used to be called every kid park. You fill out a very short application that you just write your name. The kid's name and what school they go to and you get a card in the mail that when you go to a national park that has an entrance fee. Not a parking field. Talion second has an entrance fee. You get into that national park for free and let me tell you that helped us quite a bit on our trip out west. Those leaves summers ago. Especially because some of the national arts infancy for twenty out and now we might not pay for the entrance fee but we spent plenty of money in the parks on souvenirs and stuff like that for the kids. But if you wanted to look into this it's really easy to get. We were not able to use it at mount rushmore. Because that's a parking fee. They say which separate but are able to use it a jewel cave when cave all the other places to get into that had fee and that is something. if you have a fourth grader. Right now. who's going into fifth grade next year. You wanna look into that or at any time in a couple of years of you're looking into that we're just the national park past that if you're heading out west a lot of those places have entrance fees and it's a lot more affordable to buy that yearly forecast than to spend all the separate money on the entrance fees and if you happen to a senior who's listening to the podcast that you have lifetime memberships with your sixty five and older you can get into the national one one time for the rest of your mind So as you can tell from our south dakota north dakota trips. National parks are or gm in our family and we want to support them any way that we can getting out to see the park if you have. Kids is an amazing to see the united states. So look into those different park passes if you have an thanks for listening. We hope you enjoyed hearing about our dakota adventures. We highly recommend you. Check it out. Especially in the black hills and south dakota i will drop links to the places we stayed and some of the things that we explored the podcast description for this episode. So check them out if you wanna head out that way also. Please follow us on instagram. at camping. Miller's give us a review for the podcast. We appreciate it. Thanks for listening see guys on the road.