At the Purcari Winery in the village of Purcari, Moldova. Photo taken December 7, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Boondocking night #4...near Mt. Rushmore!

We know now why we usually take a full month to go from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. There is simply too much to see, and we feel a bit rushed doing it in two weeks.

For those of you new here, there are two reasons we're doing it quickly this time around. One, the current strength of the U.S. dollar means that anything we buy in the United States costs 35% more than it should. It will be much cheaper for us in Mexico.

And two, we have tickets to fly from Mexico City to Medellin, Colombia the night of October 29th. So we need to be settled in at Valle de Bravo by the 26th or so...that means we need to cross the border into Mexico around the 19th...two weeks from when we left Canada.

Not great planning on our part, however originally we hadn't planned on flying to Ottawa to visit family and friends, and so that cut 5 days out of our driving time south.

Oh well. So we'll just have to see some of these things that we're bypassing on another trip.

Yesterday morning was a drizzly drive.

A little slow going, with some construction along the way.

Deadwood, South Dakota is a prime example of a place we'd have liked to wander around for a little while. Maybe next time.

Deadwood, SD.

This yard was littered with bicycles. I'm sure there's a story here somewhere.

Deadwood.

This Black Hills of South Dakota area must be a real zoo in the summertime. Glad we're not here then! It's a real touristy area, and campgrounds are fairly expensive, even the Forest Service ones that only have pit toilets. Some of them are listed as being closed by October 8th, and we thought that maybe that meant they are simply not maintained. But it seems that when they're closed, they actually shut the gate...because we saw a couple of them with the gate closed. No idea why they wouldn't leave them open for the few stragglers like us.

Just about all the services are closed up for the winter. The Visitors Center was closed after Labor Day weekend, and many of the hotels in the touristy town of Keystone are also closed up.

A pretty lake.

It's easy to see why it's popular.

So...we wanted to see Mt. Rushmore. It's always been on our list of things to see some day, so yesterday was the day! No idea what to expect, other than a few faces carved out of the rock. So when we got up to the area, there is very little opportunity to take a photo. Here's our first view out the side window...

What's that concrete structure with the red signs on it?

That's the parking garage! As you're pulling in towards the parking area you see this monstrous parking garage like something you'd see at a shopping center. Then, you pull up to the gate that tells you it's $11 USD ($15 CAD) to park...cars trucks and RV's all pay the same.

No thanks.

Now, I can understand that they have to pay for this multi million dollar complex, but we're not going to help pay for it. The guy at the booth told us how to exit without paying, and I think a few people have done exactly the same thing.

We drove 1/4 mile further on to a roadside parking area and walked back!

Free.

Sherman, parked for free at Mount Rushmore. You can see the profile of George Washington from this angle.

We walked back to the monument and took the "Presidential Trail" to see some different views.





It's a really neat thing to see though. Mind boggling how they did it, and how they would even have had a vision to do it in the first place.

It was almost 5:00pm by the time we pulled in to the Willow Creek Horse Camp. It was open, and the campground itself was gated with a sign saying it was a USFS fee area. Camping was listed at $10.00 USD. ($13.50 CAD).

But outside the "fee" area was the parking for the trailhead and nowhere did it say that we couldn't park over night. 

So we did.

There was a horse trailer parked there as well at the time, and a couple of ladies came back with their horses. Ruth got out and spoke to them and they thought because it was the off season that we would be fine and that nobody would tell us to move. Worse case scenario, we'd have to go pay the $10 and move into the campground. Worth the risk.

Turns out that one of these ladies has spent some time in both Mexico and Colombia so Ruth spoke to her a fair bit.

Danny, Liz, and Paige.

Sherman. Photo taken this morning, while he's warming up to go.

Not a bad spot for a quick overnight. Wouldn't try to get away with it for free during busy season, but it worked well for us this time around. GPS 43.89798, -103.53628.

Can't get a map to draw up this morning. I liked the old google maps better!! Anyhow, we did 182 miles (291 kms) yesterday, so not a bad day. Today, we'll be into another new state for us...Nebraska!

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29 comments:

  1. Came "close" to Mount Rushmore when my sister and I did our cross country trek back in the spring. She had gone to Deadwood on the bike at some point in her stay out west. Said it was nuts during high season. Not my cup of tea. We might get to Rushmore one of these days. Looks like the fall would be a good time though.

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    1. Yep, I don't think we would enjoy it at that time of year either. Seems October would be a good time though. We weren't impressed with Keystone at all!

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  2. Spent a summer in Custer patrolling the bike trail. The place IS a zoo during summer---especially during Sturgis week. Hope you see some big bison today!

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    1. I believe you, I think we will stick to the shoulder seasons, not into the busy crowds anymore. Yep, we did see some big bison during our drive yesterday.

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  3. BTW with the exchange rate now above 77¢, you're now only paying 30% more.

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    1. Actually 33% once you add in the bank fees.

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  4. Reading you from Prince Edward County, Ontario. Thanks.

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    1. We know that area, very pretty there. Glad you are enjoying the posts.

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  5. Thanks so much for posting these pics. I will probably never get to see this in person so I totally appreciate the stories and info.

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    1. So glad that we can take you to these places via the internet.

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  6. I visited Mount Rushmore when there were no parking structures or Presidential walk way with flags. It was much better then. It's ugly now.

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    1. I think we would have enjoyed it more back then too. The Presidential Trail is actually a trail that takes you on a hike around the base of the mountain just below the carvings, it is actually a nice stroll and a bit more in the nature than the walk way you see about that leads you to the viewing area and amphitheatre. The parking garage definitely takes away from the actual feature itself.

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    2. Yes I don't remember a parking garage, but I do remember we arrived during bike week with our teenaged boys...they sure got an eyefull!

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    3. I agree, it looks ugly now.

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    4. I can just image what those boys must have seen. ;-)

      It doesn't look so nice but I guess they had to figured out a way to park all the vehicles when they came to visit the monument.

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  7. Thanks for taking us to Mount Rushmore excellent pictures and would wonderful to see in person.
    Maybe someday!

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    1. I hope that you can make it there one day soon, George.

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  8. Thanks for sharing the Mt Rushmore pictures. We drove by there, but didn't want to pay for parking so we skipped it. We couldn't find anyplace to park on the road when we were there.

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    1. If you drive on a little further south from the monument itself there is a parking lot where you can get a great profile view of Washington, that is where we parked and then we walked the 1/4 mile back to the monument. I don't believe we are the first to do this either.

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  9. Yes, they should have carved Ruth in the rock, too!

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    1. I don't think I am quite in the same standing as these fine men.

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  10. Love reading this daily. We are heading out west next fall and visiting some of some places, so we re taking note of some of your stops. Thanks.

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    1. Nice to hear that you will be out this way next fall, it really is a nice area and so many great boondocking sites.

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  11. Replies
    1. Looks like a nice place to get married in! :-)

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  12. The newer Google Maps is certainly a significant step backward compared to their earlier versions.... Dumbed down. Glad to see someone else feeling the same way about it. Still searching for better alternatives on the web.

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    1. Totally agree. We don't like the new version at all it is slower loading if you don't have the best connection and it uses up so much more bandwidth. Kevin is also looking for a good alternative, if you find one let us know please and we will certainly do the same.

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  13. Brilliant work, free parking and a free campsite! Totally agree about Google Maps. Why do they always make programs worse than they were? They must know how much people hate this new one. I guess if you are as big as google you can force whatever you want down the users' throats. Sure hope someone can come up with a better alternative. I'd jump ship in a heartbeat. Safe travels

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    1. We would jump ship as well Sherry! We find the new version slow to load especially on a connection that isn't the best to begin with and it also uses up so much more bandwidth than the older version. At one point they let you revert back to the old one but now they have taken that option away.

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