As much as I hate to badmouth a KOA, this one’s location left something to be desired. We spent the night of our 3-moth-iversary listening to cars on the highway, airplanes going over and taking off from the airport, and being battered by a ridiculous windstorm that filled our tent with a fine, black dust. Ewwwww.
After breakfast, we hit the road. We drove for most of the morning, which we didn’t mind at all. Until we got distracted by the book we’re listening to (Life of Pi, which had been unutterably boring up until this point and then suddenly got really interesting) and we missed the turn onto Wyoming state road 24, and then we had to drive like 8 miles until there was even another exit to turn around, whereupon we missed that exit as well and had to drive 6 more miles to the next exit. It was probably not a really great moment for either of us.
We stopped for lunch at the Outpost Café in Lusk, Wyoming. Lusk. Can you think of a weirder town name than that? We said it out loud to ourselves all afternoon, because it was so weird. I think it sounds like Musk at Dusk. Colby thinks it sounds like Lust. I’m not sure the citizens of Lusk would appreciate either of our associations, but then, they shouldn’t have named their town Lusk.
The Outpost Café was full of these little paperback books, all by the same author, and all full of random jokes and quotes and one-liners. They were named things like “How to Confuse the Idiots in Your Life” and “Geezerhood: What to Expect When You’re as Old as Dirt.” The dozens of old people who were also eating lunch in the Outpost Café seemed to be enjoying these books immensely, so we picked them up, and we enjoyed them too. The restaurant was hopping. It’s either the best place to eat in Lusk, Wyoming, or the ONLY place. Actually, it’s not the only place: there was also a Subway.
We got to Wind Cave national park at about 3pm, in time for a cave tour at 3:30. The first thing we noticed, when we got out of the car to take a picture with the national park sign, was the BUGS. There are infinity grasshoppers here. Also bees.
As we pulled into the visitors’ center parking lot, Colby said, “I think I’ve been here before.” And I said, “Again?” This has happened multiple times during our short married life so far, several of which have occurred on this trip. I think I just got lapped. While I am still winding my way around the world for the first time, Colby is actually finishing up his second trip. He recognized the parking lot. I can’t wait for the St. Louis Arch, because I know for a fact that I have been there and he has not.
The cave tour was good. Wind Cave is the fourth longest cave in the world, beaten only by Carlsbad Caverns, Jewel Cave (also in SD) and some random one in Ukraine. HOWEVER, they’re still exploring Wind Cave, and according to wind and air pressure studies in the cave, estimate that they’ve only explored 5-10% of it so far. Colby thinks with a little dynamite they could make it the longest right now. There were some interesting cave formations, but we were generally underwhelmed. We wished they could have taken us through all 134 known miles of it, that might have been cooler. Colby wants to be a spelunker. We think all spelunkers must be hungry people, or else cave formations are named by people stuck in caves and starving to death, because they have names like “cave popcorn” and “cave bacon.” To help out, we named “cave wedding cakes” and “cave tortillas” and “cave tamales.”
We found a Budget Host Inn in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Two other couples from our cave tour apparently also found it. We tried to plan a cave tour reunion in the hot tub, but they didn’t seem interested.
We were walking out to the car to get makings for a picnic supper when I convinced Colby to let me eat a Dairy Queen blizzard for dinner. I love him.
We drove to downtown Hot Springs with our ice cream dinner, where we found a beautiful greenbelt-park through town. There’s a little canal running parallel to main street, which they’ve improved into a ribbon-y park that winds around, with picnic tables and trees and grass. There’s even a waterfall! It’s a sweet little spot, and only made us love Hot Springs even more. The downtown is full of old sandstone architecture, left over from the town’s glory days as a hot springs resort. There are over 50 springs in the area, with temperatures from 87-98 degrees. We found one of them in the park with a little gazebo built over it. Overall, we feel like we have found a treasure in South Dakota. Who wouldn’t want to live here? It’s beautiful, quiet, and generally really nice.
HOWEVER. The locust plague of Egypt has apparently descended upon the black hills. I’m not sure what these poor people did to deserve this. We haven’t noticed that the water’s turned to blood yet, so this might still be an isolated event, but be aware. Not only was Wind Cave National Park full of grasshoppers, the rest of South Dakota is too. Tonight we found 4 dead ones on our doormat ALONE.
Also, the sky was green and it was starting to rain as we headed for home after our dinner. We’re glad to be in a hotel tonight.