Thursday, May 19, 2016

South Dakota

We reached South Dakota:

7873 miles / 12670 km driven so far.

We visited the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, a museum built to enclose the remains of more than 60 mammoths. This was the site of an ancient sinkhole where many animals fell in and were unable to climb out. The exploration of this area is still in progress: a recent borehole revealed that plenty of bone fragments remain to be dug up and are currently under dozens of feet of clay. So the staff suggested we come back in 5 years to see the progress archaeologists will have made :)

All the mammoths in the sinkhole were identified as male.

The mammoth skeleton in the middle is almost complete except his head is missing...

This one was called "Beauty," since it is so well preserved.

While in Hot Springs we went to Evans Plunge, a pebble bottom pool filled with natural warm water springs (87⁰F / 31⁰C). The flow of the springs is such that there is a complete change of water 16 times daily, so the water is very clean:

Trying my hand at the rings. 

Nearly a wipeout!

Lauren did not like the vertical slide at all.

One of our favorite attractions in South Dakota was Custer State Park, which is home to a herd of 1300 bison, and has many elk, white tailed deer, etc:

They let us get close, but always kept a wary eye on us.

Either way of reading this sign is probably accurate.

I think we were practically the only people camped in the park. 

The most fun part was a "buffalo safari" tour Lauren and I took in a Jeep:

Off roading.

These guys were big.

Prairie dogs.

Prairie dogs live in a "town" and store their food in their "pantry."

It was early springs, the season where baby bison are born, and we saw a few.
The bison are born with a rust red color and eventually become all brown.

Close to Custer State Park is Mount Rushmore, which we went to see:

You can see the monument over my shoulder.

The RV barely squeezed through these small tunnels.

Behind every sign there is a story. And I would like to know the story why drones are prohibited at Mount Rushmore :)

Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.

The sculptor created a 1/12 size model to scale the monument.

Washington's profile.

I had to do this silly presidential montage :)

Our last stop in South Dakota was the Badlands National Park—a very strange place. I was telling Lauren the landscape there looks like an exotic planet that was terraformed by humans:

A small rabbit.

More prairie dog towns.

Red and yellow hills.

Next stop: Wyoming.

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