South Dakota Trip Diary – Day 3

Written by Justin posted on Aug 4, 2015 in Family, Photos, Summer, Vacation, Video
IMG_6789Day 3 turned out to be the pinnacle and most exhausting day of the trip all rolled up into one. The weather continued to cooperate. Forecast: Low 80s and clear skies, we decided to head to Mt. Rushmore. Since we began discussing the trip with the boys months ago, Kayce had played up Mt.Rushmore more than any other spot. Seeing and experiencing this was to be his crowning achievement. I was just as excited to see this blend of sculpture, history, politics, and achievement. 


Maybe it was the weather. Or the kids in awe. Or the mountain goats that greeted us on the way out. Or all the facts explained about how this was created. For me, this was a proud moment. Seeing what people are capable of coming together and accomplishing and showing it to my boys. Seeing is believing. This. was. awesome.


Next, we found a neat little spot tucked into the woods just up the road to have a picnic. We made friends with a couple of chipmunks. Those things must know to zero in on the tables with kids. Ours did not let them down.


Then we headed for somewhat nearby, Custer State Park. This was the spot I had pegged since day one of planning. Herds of wild buffalo, roaming pronghorns, mountain lions, antelope, elk. As a wildlife lover, I was really looking forward to this.


I have been to my fair share of zoos and been up close and personal with plenty of different animals. But witnessing a herd of buffalo mere feet from my face was pure bliss. We caught them at just the right time too. Many of them had calves who were playful and bounding about. Seeing them interact with their parents and siblings. Then to look back and see the boys with their jaws on the floor (just like mine), this sealed the deal on the trip.

Did you know: Bison and Buffalo are the same thing.


The drive from Lead to Keystone from Mt. Rushmore was probably about 75 minutes. Then about another 30-45 to Custer. Then the wildlife loop within Custer. Coupled with all the other driving the past couple of days. We were starting to feel exhausted.

We headed into the nearby town of Custer to checkout the local establishments. Ending up at a place called Bitter Esters. Hospitality and brews were a big plus here. I think they let me sample about 5-6 of the beers on tap before making a decision. Quite the vegan selection here too. Just plan on waiting it out. I am by no means a Cicerone. They had a beer on tap called, Cocoa Mole. It’s a Porter by New Belgium that was truly one of a kind. Seek this one out beer friends.

We rounded out the night by making a stop over to see the Crazy Horse memorial. Which I must admit. Before our trip, I thought was nothing more than Neil Young’s backing band. It was interesting to see both this structure and Mt.Rushmore in the same day and comparing/contrasting the two. Also fun to speculate with the kids if they came back in 30 years how much more would be completed.

The drive home was dark, hilly, rainy, and scattered with deer. A bit white-knuckle at times. All in a good days fun.

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