South Dakota: Day 8

Thinking about how far we had to drive today before we started seemed like it would be a VERY LONG day.  But, it turned out to be pretty painless and in retrospect, I’ve driven longer distances than this before (LA to San Fran and LA to Williams, AZ)!  350 miles across the state of South Dakota was easy!

Driving down the mountain from Hill City to Rapid City was the first leg of our trip.  We stopped at Mt. Rushmore Black Hills Gold with plans to go on a tour of the facility and see how they made Black Hills Gold.  We were pretty bummed to discover they don’t do tours on the weekends and we would have to settle for a short 7-minute video about it instead.  After seeing the video, I really want to go back and see it in person – looks pretty amazing as a lot of it is done by hand.  Several people made purchases and I knew I really wanted to get something – my FIRST Black Hills gold piece!  It took a little convincing to John to get it, and he was able to bargain the price a little (he’s good at that kind of stuff), but I am now the proud new owner of a small Black Hills Gold pendant necklace.

Now, some of you who may be familiar with Black Hills Gold are probably thinking…there’s no gold in there!  Actually, some of you who AREN’T familiar with it are probably thinking the same thing!  Black Hills gold is identifiable by its three colors of gold (yellow, pink and green – the latter achieved by mixing it with copper (pink) and silver (green)) and the design using the grapes, grape leaves and grape stems.  In order for it to be called Black Hills Gold jewelry, it has to be manufactured in the Black Hills!

So, back to the lack of actual “gold.”  Because yellow gold is not quite as popular as it used to be, a lot of the designs are now incorporating silver or white gold with the green and pink gold.  Since I’m not a huge fan of yellow gold, I knew I wanted to get a piece with the silver and I absolutely LOVE my necklace.  The nice thing…prices are cheaper for the silver jewelry!  Next time I’m back in that area, I’d love to get a ring!

Once everyone had made their purchase, we climbed back in the cars and got on the I-90…the only highway we would see most of the day.  Google Maps claimed a 5-hour drive.  Fortunately, South Dakota is open.  There’s no traffic.  The speed limit is 75.  You can easily get away with going 80.  You do the math!  We had one quick stop at a rest stop before we took a break from our drive to eat lunch in Oacoma (just past our halfway point) at Al’s Oasis.  The food there was okay, they did have a good selection at least!

After lunch it was back in the cars for the last leg of our trip to Sioux Falls.  We made really good time and made it to our hotel just after 4:00 p.m. (We even lost an hour because of the time change).  We checked in to our hotel and had some time to relax and start packing for the trip home (had to rearrange luggage so everything made it through security in our carry-ons).  We had dinner at a restaurant called TC’s Referee Sports Bar and Grill, and almost everyone had the walleye – it was a huge plate – and most of us had the rice since that seemed to be something missing from most restaurants we’d been to during the week.  It was really good (minus the approximately 10 pin bones I found at one end of my fish)!

We stopped at the gas station to fill up the cars on the way back to the hotel so we didn’t have to do it at 4:00 a.m.  Gotta love that E-85 stuff!  The boys then headed back to the hotel while the girls went to Walmart again for snacks for the trip home.

It was then an early night since we had SUCH an early morning…planning to leave for the airport at 4:45 a.m. (that’s 2:45 Cali time!!!).

If you’re wondering where all the photos are for today…here you go.  It’s a nice view of South Dakota via I-90.  There’s not much, but what there is, John and I tried to capture on “film.”

There were lots of cows…

…and lots of open fields – mostly corn and hay…

…and lots of hay bales…

…quite a number of farms…

…lots of open green land…

…some beautiful cloud formations…

…and not a whole lot of these.

So, there it is!  South Dakota!


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