Saturday, July 27, 2019

Last day!

We woke up on Friday with one more full day of adventures before our late flight out of Denver. Our plan was to go to Wind Cave National Park, but the cave was closed due to a broken elevator, so we decided to skip that for now. We weren't sure what we wanted to do, but got on the road as we had a 5+ hour drive back to Denver. Along the way we decided to stop in Fort Collins and enjoy a day of fancy food and good beer/cider. Great decision! We were missing happy hour and fancy food and this was a great way to end the trip. Plus, exploring Fort Collins was super fun.

We tried to do some mini-golf (as our previous mini-golf plans were cancelled by rain), but it was SO crowded, we decided to skip that. I guess a lot of people had the 5th off work? So, we headed to the downtown area and walked around a bit until our first happy hour destination (Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market) opened. We had some meatballs and one drink each and then headed to our next destination, Scrumpy's Cider. This place was great! I got to make my own flight and could choose as many as I wanted. I picked just 4 ciders as I didn't need to try 8 and found one I loved: chocolate cherry cider! I loved it so much, I bought a 4 pack to bring home. SO crazy delicious. Then, we walked to our next happy hour/dinner spot, The Cache at Ginger and Baker.

After dinner it was time for a brewery or two. We tried to stop at Odell, but it was just too crowded. So, we went to Jessup Farm Barrel House instead. Michael LOVED it. Right up his alley. Lots of really great stuff there and we loved the vibe. We had to rush a bit as we had to get to the airport, but Michael will definitely be back there some day.

I drove us to the airport, and of course, just as we approached the airport, one more hail storm. Fun times! Note: this is after Michael drove rain free for like 5 hours that day!!! Ridiculous!

Overall, a very fun trip. We got to see a lot of the country we both hadn't been to before. We loved the National Parks! So much to see in the US and looking forward to both of us finishing out our 50 states!

July 4th Fun in the Black Hills

Happy July 4th! We have a big day planned with lots of sightseeing, so be ready!

We woke up early and were on the road by 7AM so we could get to Mount Rushmore early. We timed it just right. It was only slightly busy and we were headed out of the park just as the rain was starting. It was definitely more crowded when we left, so getting there early is critical! We enjoyed the park and the little trail that you take to get closer to the presidents. Pretty cool to see it in person!

Then, we went to Crazy Horse and enjoyed that museum and getting to see this important work in progress. It would be great to be able to get closer, but that wasn't an option. :/

It was too early for lunch, so we decided to kill some time and drive a portion of the Needles Highway through Custer State Park. Super fun! We definitely recommend this. The road was so fun to drive and there were some great looking hikes along the way. It was a sprinkling a bit and we had a full day ahead of us, so no hikes here, but definitely something on the list for next time. Lots more to explore in this beautiful state park!

Next up was lunch in Custer at Black Hills Burger & Bun. There was a bit of a wait, so we walked down to the brewery and Michael tried to have a flight. They were a bit slow, so we skipped that and decided to come back post-lunch. We shared a very yummy bison burger for lunch (definitely recommend this place!) and then Michael went back to the brewery (Mt. Rushmore Brewing) and I went to get pie (apple pie, for the 4th) at Bobkat's Old Fashioned Purple Pie Palace. SO fun!

Then, it was on the road again to hit up Prairie Berry Winery and Miner Brewing Company. The wine was a bust, but Michael really enjoyed the beer at Miner. He even got a crowler to take home with him. We did a quick stop at the Firehouse Winery (their larger location) right before and I much preferred those wines. So much so that I brought a bottle home (complete w/ Mt. Rushmore on the label).

After these two stops, it was off to Rapid City for "big city" fun. Our first task was to find all 42 president statues (no Obama or Trump yet) that are scattered throughout downtown Rapid City. We got a cool map that even had a scavenger hunt on the back where you had to find things like a baseball, toy airplane, certain clothing items, etc. And if you brought the map back to the visitor's center you got a free water or soda. We were very careful and examined all the statutes closely, but we still missed one of the items. SO SAD! My competitive side did not handle this well, but we had other places to be and it looked like rain was coming, so we called it a day. Next time, Rapid time! I will figure out which president has those stupid cross swords.

We stopped at a brewery (Lost Cabin) on the edge of town and then headed back to Deadwood for the evening.  When we got back to Deadwood it wasn't raining yet, but it started to rain just as we were deciding on a dinner place. We ducked into some sad, sad restaurant/bar and had "steak tips" and fries for dinner. Not the best, but it was food. After that, we checked out one more winery that had a tasting room in Deadwood and when it was time to leave it was POURING! So, we worked our way back to the hotel ducking underneath various awnings and stopping at DQ for a blizzard. We had free drink tickets at our hotel so we got some sad red wine and I played some penny slots. Sadly the storm had caused a power outage shortly before I started playing the slots, so any money I made (it was nothing) was stuck in the machines as they were all messed up. Eventually I went upstairs, took a nice hot shower and watched the fireworks on PBS as there were no fireworks near us w/ all the rain. This also meant our mini-golf plans were cancelled, but oh well. Michael stayed out a bit longer and enjoyed bar hopping in the rain.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

State #46: South Dakota (Day 1)

Our day started with a 6:30AM fire alarm at our hotel. Turns out someone burnt some toast in the breakfast area. Worked as a great alarm clock! 

Today we had another 3.5 hour drive to South Dakota. First stop: Termesphere gallery. Sadly, they had just lost power and we weren't able to appreciate all the great artwork in here, but you can see some of his stuff on this website. But, really they are pretty great to see in person. Just wish they had light. :/ 

Next stop was Rapid City for lunch at Firehouse Brewery and Winery. Skip this one. The food was just okay (even the gumbo Rachel Ray recommended) and the beer wasn't great either. However, the wine wasn't bad...but you can just check out their wine tasting room next door for that. 

After lunch, we headed to Badlands National Park, but not without a stop at Wall Drug Store. That place is nuts! I had to have one of their famous donuts (check!) and we took some pics with some of the craziness that was this place. Crowded. Huge. So much to look at!

Next up was Badlands National Park. We loved it! We entered at the Pinnacles Entrance and drove all the way to the Northeast Entrance. At our very first stop at the Pinnacles Overlook we were treated to all kinds of bighorn sheep!! It was great! We stopped at a few of the other overlooks, did the Fossil Exhibit Trail and then planned to do the Notch, Door, and Window trails. BUT, just as we arrived at the trailhead, the big storm off in the distance with all kinds of lightning just seemed too close. So, we decided against it. We walked out just a little bit to see the landscape, but got back in our car to stay safe from the rain/lightning. Total bummer. But, if we're ever in the area again, we definitely plan to do these hikes!

Then it was time to head to our home for the next two nights, Hickok's Hotel and Casino in Deadwood. As we were driving back, it was time for another hail storm (and yes, I was driving).We arrived just in time for a reenactment shooting in the street right by our hotel. Crazy. Then, we checked in and headed to the shooting of Wild Bill at Saloon No. 10. After that, we had dinner at the "fancy" place in town, Deadwood Social Club. Nothing great. We walked up and down the strip to see what was in town. Then, we checked out the brewery/winery and called it a night.