July 16th, 2011
I rolled into the Black Hills KOA just a little after noon. I had been out of clean clothes for a couple days, and hadn’t showered in a while, so after the tent was up I headed for the shower. Once I was clean I put on my riding pants and everything else went into the laundry.
While the laundry was being done I used the WiFi to upload pictures to smugmug and put some more blogs in the chute. It took some time, but afterwards I was nice and clean. Harry Potter had just come out, so I decided to head into Rapid City to try and see it, but had issues trying to get to the right theater, so settled on Transformers 3. It was okay. I got back to the campground after dark and went to sleep.
I woke up in the morning, and the weather board listed the anticipated high temperature of 97degrees. It was already in the 80s by 8am, so I headed to Jewel Cave. The temperature in there never gets over 50.
Jewel cave is the second largest cave in the world (Mammoth is the largest), and was nice and cool inside. Again I had to take a guided tour, but it was a smaller group. The ranger tour guide (Who had taken a part time ranger job after spending years exploring and mapping parts of the cave) was nice enough to let us know the elevators had been broken for the previous 10 days and we were the first group to use them since the repairs. He told us not to worry, there was an escape route if the elevators failed again.
Cave pictures are much like fireworks pictures, they take skill and a decent camera. I am completely missing one of those, and don’t have enough of the other. But I have had some cave picture practice lately.
The cave is limestone with a sort of quartz layer. At some point in the really, really long time ago, the cave was filled with carbonic acid (after the quartz built up) and reacted with the quartz to, sort of fizz I guess. That caused the bubbling. Long after than, temperature changes in the rock caused the quartz layer to fracture off, so we can see it.
It was a theme that repeated itself over and over in the cave.
In other parts of the cave there were the usual stalactites and stalagmites, usually of the small kind. They do take a while to form
This is supposedly one of the longest straw formations around. It is four feet long, and hollow in the middle.
The cave was refreshing, but the tour only lasts so long. When it was over, it was even hotter outside. I headed for Custer State Park to look for wildlife. I didn’t see much, but rode up Mt Coolidge, which had some nice views.
And, of course, there were bison
of more than one species.
Poor burrow needs some glasses.
After riding around in the park for a while, and enjoying a picnic lunch, I headed back into Rapid City to try and see Harry Potter again. This time I managed to find the door to the theater, and enjoyed the air conditioning and special effects.
After the movie I decided to ride over to Mount Rushmore. It was getting towards evening, and I decided I wanted to get a couple pictures of it at night and all lit up.
I left while they were still playing patriotic music and stuff, beating most of the crowd and hitting the sleeping bag.