Tuesday, October 2, 2012

South Dakota - We Love You

We arrived very late Friday night in Rapid City.  After a good night's sleep, we were ready to tackle the City.  We had a delicious breakfast at Tally's followed by the Great Pumpkin Festival, featuring The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown playing at the local cinema. Rapid City is also referred to as the "City of Presidents" as we saw from bronze presidential statues on every corner in the downtown area. Very neat and unique. This was a fun picture of Greg posing with Ronald Reagan!

The afternoon was spent at Mt. Rushmore.  I love this picture of the Bridget and the four presidents. 

Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch at Buglin Bulls in Custer City, which did not disappoint.  Greg had the Elk Poop Stout and we laughed several times during the day over the name! After an exhausting day of travel and sightseeing, we checked out the casual  Ale House - awesome place with one of the best craft beer lists.  Bridget fell asleep in my lap while Greg and I ate her pizza. Bad parents!

Sunday was Race morning. The Race started at the Crazy Horse Monument. Just simply  awe inspiring. Greg and B drove me to the course and got to see me at the start and then at mile 3. I always love the chance to stop and kiss my girls (even tho my oldest couldn't make this trip). The race start included Native American chanting as well as beating drums.  So special. The first 3 miles were run around Crazy Horse, which was horribly hilly! We had to tackle this hill twice!

We looped around to the Mickleson Trail, a rails-to-trails route spanning 152 miles from Deadwood to Edgemont. The trail course traversed from Crazy Horse and finished in Hill City. I was treated to amazing scenery including breathtaking yellow aspen trees, a family of horses that came to the edge of the trail to say hello, and a cow wading in the creek that had to endure me asking him how he was doing ("how are you doing, buddy? you having a good day?") 

I finished  my 21st half marathon in a very slow 2:38, which accurately accounted for my lack of training as well as my multiple stops to take pictures, talk to a cow, and a 2-3 minute stop to pet a random cat that had the best purr.  I loved this race.  Post finish, Bridget and I enjoyed some watermelon and orange slices before heading off for our Jewel Cave tour. 

Jewel Cave is the second longest cave in the world; Mammoth Cave is the longest. The tour was incredible and our guide, Dorothy, had been working at the cave since 1981. We are a lucky nation that values our National Parks.

We then made a spontaneous stop at Prairie Berry Winery to sample their famous Red Ass Rhubarb Wine (I'm a sucker for billboards and who could resist a wine called "Red Ass Rubarb"?!) And let me tell you it was delish!  So we shipped a bottle of their Rhubarb wine and 3 additional bottles back home. Can't wait!

We capped off our last night with a Chuckwagon Dinner where Dances with Wolves was filmed. So cool to knock around the site, watching the tin smith make dinner plates and Bridget got a lesson in rope making. 

Dinner was "authentic" cowboy fare served on a tin plate with lemonade in a tin cup. We had BBQ beef, baked beans, chunky applesauce, biscuit and spice cake. Afterwards, we enjoyed country music with bits of comedy inserted like the old Hee Haw show. Great evening!

All in all, South Dakota was a wonderful trip. We truly marveled at the amazing hospitality. Seriously, the moment we landed at the airport, EVERY SINGLE PERSON was friendly.  The Avis rep was super, and our vehicle was parked less than 100 feet outside the door. The Hilton Garden Inn desk clerk was another incredible example of good customer service.  Everywhere we went, even a convenience store, asked how we were doing and commented on what a great day it was. We were blown away. The race expo was small and orderly (which I prefer) with good schwag (I never get tired of free Chapstick). The race management and execution was without complaint.  

Another  memorable family trip! And 5 more states to go!!

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