<< Day 53: Custer, South Dakota | Day 55: Devil’s Tower to Cody, Wyoming >>
Rapid City, South Dakota
Sebastian woke up early this morning—today was his birthday, and he was eager to start the celebration!
Before breakfast, he opened his small pile of gifts and cards, smiling with joy as he read each loving birthday wish.
Then he and Genevieve ran off to the playground while Ben and I prepared the RV for departure.
Our campground host, Larry, stopped by to see how we had enjoyed our stay at the Broken Arrow Campground.
Larry and his wife, Geri, have created a warm and welcoming RV park near Custer.
In planning Sebastian’s birthday activities for the day, I had considered a multitude of fun options in the nearby Rapid City area. After consulting with the birthday boy, we had whittled the list down to three activities: a giant maze in the morning, a movie in the early afternoon, and a chuckwagon dinner show with a “western gunfight” in the evening.
As we left the Custer area, we had one last, distant view of the Crazy Horse Memorial.
We chose a meandering route through the Black Hills, passing through the Hill City, which promotes itself as “the Heart of the Hills.”
The downtown area looked like a nice place to relax a bit, but we didn’t have time to stop this morning.
We passed an almost never-ending stream of bikers who had arrived early for the annual Sturgis Rally.
The Little White Church in Hill City announced that it was “Getting Ready for the End.”
The “end.” Hmmm. The end of racial hatred? The end of fear based upon ignorance? The end of suffering based upon economic disparity? The end of war based on greed? The end of misery created by those who clamber for money or power? Let’s all “get ready”!
North of Hill City, we passed a lumber mill.
Some people were fishing on the calm waters of Sheridan Lake.
The twisty roads took up through groves of trees and farmland.
We liked Biker’s Bob’s message:
As we got closer to the outskirts of Rapid City, we passed by some new housing developments.
There was also a new, large church.
In Rapid City, we did a double-take at the huge sculptural pile of lawnmowers outside of Chainsaw Willy’s repair shop.
Finally, we reached our first stop—the giant maze.
After buying our tickets, we were given cards depicting Mt. Rushmore with four blank faces. The goal was to navigate through the humongous maze to reach four separate towers. Each tower had a stamp for one of the Mt. Rushmore faces. When all four faces had been stamped, you had to find your way to the exit and present your completed card.
Genevieve and Sebastian wanted to work together as a team, without Ben or I. Off they went:
Ben and I then scurried through the maze together, laughing as we encountered deadends and backtracked around, finally finding our way to the first tower.
Posted along the maze walls were various tidbits of factual information, along with some humor.
Occasionally, we could hear the children giggling and calling to each other excitedly, and sometimes we even caught a flash of them as they ran by under or above us:
Here, the children showed us that they only needed one more stamp to finish:
Ahhhh, yes—this has always been a favorite saying of mine:
After about an hour of fun, Ben and I successfully found all four towers and made our way to the Exit.
The children were fast on our heels!
Our next stop was the movie theater. Sebastian had seen an advertisement announcing that the Disney 3-D movie “G-Force” was opening on his birthday, so he had put in a special viewing request.
Here are some photos of Rapid City along the way:
Arrival at the theater:
For those (fortunate) people who have never heard of this movie, the plot summary is described as: “A specially trained squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire, who plans to taking over the world with household appliances.” On a positive note, Sebastian and Genevieve both seemed to enjoy the movie very much, so that was good.
The day’s highlight for Sebastian was the entertainment at the Circle B Chuckwagon dinner this evening. We arrived early and participated in the pre-dinner activities for kids.
First, Ben pushed Genevieve and Sebastian on the merry-go-round.
We wandered over to the pen of small goats.
Sebastian and Genevieve both wanted the chance to see what it was like to fire a "real" gun. The gun had wax bullets, and the goal was to hit some hanging metal buckets.
Sebastian was first to have a turn. I think that he was a little nervous, but Dale (who runs the Circle-B, with his wife Kathy) was a patient and gentle instructor.
Genevieve was next, and approached the task with her usual determined spirit.
The children each went for a pony ride.
We all marveled at how this grey grasshopper blended in perfectly with the rocks on the ground.
We discovered the small jail cell and took turns being "captured."
Fifteen minutes before dinner, we found some good seats for the “gunfight” show.
Sheriff Dale came out and explained to the crowd that a “biscuit bandit” had raided the kitchen and stolen some biscuits.
The in a bold move, the biscuit bandit ran right past Sheriff Dale, down the middle of the walkway, and disappeared around the buildings at the other end, firing his gun as he departed.
Sheriff Dale called for all of the children to come and help find the biscuit bandit.
First, the children had to raise their hands and be sworn in as deputy sheriffs.
Sheriff Dale instructed the children to go down around the corner where the bandit had disappeared; when they saw the biscuit bandit, they were supposed to come and tell Sheriff Dale. The kids took off running down the street . . .
. . . and around the corner.
All was quiet for a moment, and then we heard loud shots, “BANG, BANG, BANG.” Then a wave of children came running back around the corner and up the street. (This was sooo funny to watch.)
Next came the bandit from around the corner. He stopped near us, facing the sheriff.
The cook was on the roof in case the sheriff needed some assistance.
Sheriff Dale asked the bandit three separate times if he wanted to give back the biscuits.
Immediately after the third question, the bandit whipped around and fired at the cook on the roof.
Which prompted Sheriff Dale to fire at the bandit, knocking him to the ground.
Sheriff Dale then told the children that they had to go and make sure that the bandit was okay, as the bandit had another show to do tomorrow night.
Sheriff Dale announced that the bandit was only shot “a little bit”; he then proceeded to help the bandit up, and the bandit hobbled off holding onto the sheriff.
Sebastian was enthralled.
All in all, I thought that the show was very well done, with a blend of the historical gunfight with some lessons to the children in using violence as a last resort, and only then to protect yourself or someone else who is in imminent danger.
We then filed into the dinner area and were welcomed by Dale’s wife, Kathy.
After a hearty dinner of cowboy fixings (beef/chicken, beans, potatoes, and cornbread), we had the pleasure of listening to Dale and his sons, Todd and Zach, perform cowboy/western music and slip in some funny jokes.
During the show, the whole crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Sebastian.
After the show, we sang our own “Happy Birthday” song to Sebastian in the RV. I stuck a candle in his bowl of ice cream, and he got to make a wish and blow out the flame. Sebastian said that this was one of the best birthdays ever!
As the sun set, we continued driving westward.
Our destination tonight was the base of Devil’s Tower Monument in Wyoming.
(It was dark when we entered the state of Wyoming, so I didn’t get a photo of the state’s “welcome” sign.)
As we neared the Devil’s Tower, I could see the dark shape in the distance against the grey night sky. Because of the night light, the shape would dissolve into the surrounding darkness if I looked at it directly; however, it was fascinating to see it get bigger and bigger in my peripheral vision. Our campground tonight was near the base of the tower, and I couldn’t wait to see the tower’s full glory in the morning sunlight.
<< Day 53: Custer, South Dakota | Day 55: Devil’s Tower to Cody, Wyoming >>
Back to Index Page
Back to Home Page