If you’ve gotten the idea we spent some time in the Black Hills, you’re right! With access to Rapid City, we were able to take advantage of their farmer’s market, health food stores, and department stores for groceries and supplies.
And the bike trail along Rapid Creek, stretching 13 miles or so, gave us a great workout and a chance to see more of the city.
One stop we made along the bike trail was at the Cleghorn Springs Aquatic Interpretice Center, where fish swam and ducks lurked.
Travelling full-time, we’ve sometimes hit town just before or after various festivals and events, and sometimes we happen to be there in time to enjoy a special occasion. Rapid City’s Fourth of July celebration included an arts and crafts festival, where we walked the aisles of booths, admiring the work of the artists.
And as you can see, the weather threatened. While in the area, we stayed at two different RV parks just outside of Rapid City and experienced the famous South Dakota winds and some fierce storms! Maybe they just seem louder and wetter and windier in an RV than in a house, but they brought dramatic clouds and I was sure I even spotted a tornadic rotation in one of the clouds! Luckily, we got a good drenching but nothing more.
Pretty soon we saw a pattern — sunny mornings and early afternoons, followed by late afternoon showers or storms. We planned our activities around the weather, which meant blue skies for our visit to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum.
The dramatic entrance to the indoor displays is a popular place for ceremonies, including this retirement ceremony for Air Force officers from the adjacent Ellsworth base.
The museum is free, and includes lots of military aircraft indoors and outside, many restored through the generosity of volunteers and donors.
And Ellen got the closest she’ll ever get to flying like a Blue Angel!
For a small additional fee, we toured a missile launch training site where our very informed guide answered all of our questions and gave us her undivided attention (it helped that we were the only ones on the tour!) …
… and she drove us through the Ellsworth Air Force Base. Bob spent plenty of time on bases during his Air Force years, but I was glad to see a bit of what living on a military base must be like. My favorite part? The flyovers from pilots getting in their flight hours!
After exploring the aero-side of Rapid City, we visited the Journey Museum to travel through time.
This massive wall tracks geological time and matches the various rock formations to their locations in the Black Hills. This made it much easier to understand when — for example — Harney Peak was formed and its geological composition.
Hear the dinosaurs roar (over and over again, if there are kids nearby!), and listen to the stories being told by the holographic Native American woman in the center of the museum. Walk through recreations of frontier shops and experience the full Journey through time!
And, outside of all the formal activities and sites around the area, we found some great side attractions as well, including this off-beat flea market where antlers, pelts, and other decidedly Western items were for sale.
We sure aren’t in the Midwest anymore!