Day 3 – Hill City

Actually Hill City was day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…  I think we hit Hill City just about everyday, but I’m okay with that, because it is MY favorite Black Hills town. And you need to see “Iron Star” a 1400 pound horse statue made from scrap iron created by artist John Lopez. As I was taking photos, an older gentleman was circling the sculpture in silence. I asked him what he thought and he said, “It’s unbelievable, I could look at it all day.” Yes, that sums it up nicely. Cheers to the Hill City Art Council.

"Iron Star" sculpture

An amazing sculpture

There is a spoon in the middle of the nose

Hill City shops

As you are driving from Hill City back to Rapid City, you drive under this massive wood timber bridge called the Keystone Wye. Back in college, I painted this bridge because I’m a weird bridge fanatic and I’m tempted to paint it again. You can’t just stop on the road to get this shot, you have to yell at your mom to get the camera out and have her take photos as you go under it while you slow down to at least 45 miles an hour. Not that I did that, er, well here is the photo and my college painting equivalent.

Keystone Wye (PS Thanks Mom!)

In my ignorance, I just called it: "Keystone Bridge" Oil on Canvas, 1997. AHC

Day 3 – The Mammoth Site

This, by far, was my oldest daughter’s FAVORITE place, the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD. First of all she is crazy about elephants and mammoths are pretty close, second, she loves digging up “bones” like a young paleontologist in the making. I admire this ambition since it was close to what “I” wanted to be when I was that young, an archeologist and smooth talker Indiana Jones. What am I saying, I STILL want to be that. Photos. Go.

This big fella greets you as you drive in.

No one was digging when we were there and we could take the tour at our leisure.

These bones were.... wait for it.... MAMMOTH.

I know what you are thinking. What exactly am I looking at? BONES.

The interior of the gallery


A house made of mammoth bones cannot be blown down.

This face says it all.

I'm partial to skulls. They look tough.

Day 3 – 1880 Train

As we were driving through Hill City I took the opportunity to snap a few photos of the 1880 Train. We decided not to ride it since the girls are so young but maybe in a future vacation they will be old enough to appreciate it!

This engine was actually in Keystone, so I snapped a quick photo.

The station in Hill City, the train took off at 10:00.

It was well branded

These signs remind me of Harry Potter

The main passenger car


Day 2 – Crazy Horse

The last time I saw Crazy Horse was in the 90’s and SO much has changed including the Welcome Center.  I don’t know what it is about how your eyes can focus, but again, my camera cannot capture the distance or scale as well as seeing it in person for yourself.

Crazy Horse

It was actually hard to get this photo, a ton of people were standing around the sculpture on the viewing deck.

The place is massive. A ton of pine. A ton of history.

Another favorite

This whole Welcome Center was "new to me" but you could still take a piece of rock home with you. That I do remember.

This collection of beads is amazing.

Day 2 – Bear Country USA

The second day came with a few showers but we still ventured to Bear Country USA.  It consists of a drive-thru park that meanders it’s way through elk, deer, buffalo etc, and ends with BEARS! I had a close encounter with a wild bear in Canada once but I really was unprepared for the massive amounts of bears in one place. It’s slightly unnerving.

We got there at 8:00 in the morning and they had just been fed. Many like to follow the car like secret service men patrolling a state official in a parade. Then of course you go and see the cuddly babies in the park and you totally forget that this massive animal could crush you with it’s jaws.

Bear Country USA

Her: Babies! AWWWWW! Can I take one home??? Me: HELL TO THE NO!!!


Also, my youngest daughter can "speak bear". Her series of "rowr rowrs" got the baby bears all hopped up. It was hilarious.

These little bears fought and cried like little kids.


Unimpressed with the cars. Most of the animals had this bored look.

This little guy was a showoff. Totally knew I was taking lots of photos.