Day 11 – 9/10 Wind Cave National Park

It was another cold morning, temps were around 33 with the feels like at 30, but I was less concerned with pipes freezing this time.  We had the furnace at 66 and the temperature inside was great to sleep, I slept great.  Woke up around 5am on my own, feeling rested.  Today it starts warming up again and we’ll leave the 30s from overnights.  We are planning on Hotsprings and Mammoth, and also Wind Cave National Park.  May be a bit too much for one day, but we’ll see how the morning goes.  It’s pretty dark outside, and a glimpse of sun light in the horizon just started now at 5:30.

The day turned out very nice, temps were good and we only had sweatshirts on all day, and actually didn’t have to wear the sweatshirt most of the day.  It was a typical morning with the girls doing their school work.  Carol worked on videos and made some calls.  I worked on some bills, organized the posts, fixed some things on the site, and did some trailer maintenance (added some screws that were missing outside and tightened a few that were lose).  I also fixed the toneau cover on the truck, I think the weight of the snow had the track lowered so I raised it a bit so it’d close easy again.  We all had lunch, and left around 1pm. 

Our first stop was Mammoth site, in Hotsprings.  It’s a very pretty drive to get there.  The Mammoth site is kind of like a museum, it is actually the spot where a sink hole from many ages ago was, and as animals would fall in the hole, their bones would become fossil and as ages passed layers of sediment covered them.  The area was discovered and they turned it into a museum, and active research facility as they are still digging for more fossils.  It’s a very interesting site.

You can see the bones from huge pre historic elephants, the Mammoths, and also they have very tiny seashells as well.  The seashells were cool too, without the magnifying glass all you see is a spec of dirt or a small rock looking thing, but once you look with a magnifying glass you can actually see a seashell.  Bella really wanted to excavate there, but they stopped that program on August 15, so we missed it. 

There was a little kids area that they could play a bit with brushes and pretend to be excavating, it was ok. 

I had to go outside with Bella as she was not really into it.  Bia and Carol stayed and visited the entire site, the exposition and all.  Bia really likes these.  It was very interesting to learn how each thousands of years would add layers of sediment to the floor and create all the layers we were seeing, and how that would cover and preserve all those fossils. 

From there we went to check out Cascade Falls, which is just a stop in one of the Black Hills areas that has a water fall type of thing.  We got there and it is a small area, not sure how packed that gets in the summer hot days, but it’s smaller than I expected.  There were like 10 kids in the water when we got there.  The water runs down the stream and they put some rocks to form some falls and paths, they made a pool like area as well with rocks, etc. 

The girls put their hands in the water and it was cold, but they wanted to go in and check it out, so they took their shoes and socks off, raised their pants to their knees and went in.  I have to say I was a bit anxious thinking they’d fall and the rocks looked slippery, but they were fine. 

The girls looked like they were having fun, and they said they wished they have their swimming suits on. Hahahah I know exactly what would happens if they did, it’d be a 2 minute deal and Bella would want to leave as she was cold.  The way we visited was just fine.  That was a nice little hidden, maybe less known swimming spot in the area.  The people who were there before us left, and as they were leaving they told us they had just seen a rattle snake, so we were very careful as we finished our stay.  The girls had fun and were in a great mood at that point. 

We then left to our final destination of the day, and our 3rd National Park, Wind Cave National Park.  The girls love rocks and caves and were looking forward to seeing some caves.  When we arrived at the visitor center I got out to get maps and check recommendations with the ranger. Unfortunately, the ranger told me we could not see caves as the elevator that takes people to the caves has been broken for 15 months and they don’t know when it will be fixed, so we’d have to just see the rest of the park.  Kids were bummed, but the ranger had told me there were lots of Prairie Dogs and they love those guys.  We started our drive towards the hiking spot the ranger recommended, and right away saw prairie dogs and buffalo.  We also saw deer and pronghorn deer?  Can’t remember what it’s called, but it looks like a deer but has different horns and they have black tips I think.  We saw lots of animals, and surely this park had a lot of prairie dogs.  The drive to the trail spot was very pretty as we were going up.  The trail was short and uphill the first half, not difficult. 

The views from the trail were amazing, and we could see pretty far once we got all the way to the top.  We hung out there for a bit, took some pictures and started our way back down. 

The way up was on a trail on the side of the mountain, with gravel and rocks, the way down is basically a small gravel road likely used by the rangers.  The top also has a tower, but that tower was closed so we didn’t get to go up. 

For much of the hike Carol was teaching the girls some “naughty song” in Portuguese, and by time we were hiking down, the girls were singing it on their own.  It was cool and funny.  It’s a silly song about poop hahahahaha… we have some videos that may make it in one of Caro’s videos, but it’s in Portuguese, so maybe she’ll translate a bit.  Carol was very proud and happy the girls had memorized and were enjoying singing it.  I think her uncle Eric had taught her the song. Hahahahah… I can totally see that. 

After that hike we started riding towards our return, saw more animals, very up close Buffalo, and lots of deer.  I had to be careful on the ride back as there were deer everywhere.  Wind Cave National Park was pretty, we were disappointed to not see the caves, but the animals definitely made it worth it as well as the awesome views.  We made it back before the sun was down, it was still warm so we had the door open for a bit while Carol made dinner.  Everyone got ready for bed, girls watched some TV while Carol and I got caught up on emails, etc.  And we called it a day around 10pm.

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