Currently staying at the KOA in Hill City, South Dakota, 5 miles from Mount Rushmore. This place is HUGE – there is a massive Reception area as you drive in; when you go to register, you are greeted by a concierge, who assists you with your registration. Once at your site, there are many options to chose from; you could get a “multi-day, unlimited, Mega” pass, which means that all members of your family can use the giant bouncy pillow, the splash pad, the water slide, and the mini golf area, as many times as they like. To get here, we had an 11 hour trip (well, it was supposed to be 6, but we stopped off at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, (the community center of town, which is decorated annually with panels made entirely of corn) Badlands National Park, (famous in any number of cowboy movies), and the town of Wall, South Dakota, (which boasts the biggest drug store in the world). An experience not to be missed, we were told by about 5 different people).
Did I mention it was the hottest day of the year so far? When we were in the badlands, the thermometer on the car registered 44 Celsius. All around us were flagging in the heat! We thought it was great – reminded us of home, with nice dry heat, unlike that crappy humidity in New York. So we put on our hats (no-one wears hats over here – unless it is baseball caps) stocked up on water and marched around the Badlands looking at fossils, and being careful of rattle snakes, and surprising the park ranger who was hiding in the shade of the exhibition center.
So after our 11 hour drive, we headed for the on-site restaurant for dinner, preceded by a beer at the on-site pub, and followed by ice cream at the on-site ice-cream parlor. Every morning, Laurie has enjoyed his $2.50, all you can eat, pancake breakfast at the breakfast tent – so the first day, we just hung around the campground, went to the pool, played volleyball with the counselors, (yes, they have employed all these students from South Africa, England, etc to keep the kids occupied over the summer. They organize crafts, volley ball sessions, basketball games, and so on, to get kids out of the parent’s hair. I am sure there are some kids who have not left the campground since they arrived – some parents too, I am sure. Before the kids got up, david and I rode to the entrance, and had a Starbucks coffee. Then on to the laundry to catch up on a few loads, and home for a bit of breakfast. We find we are still operating on New York time, and are waking up at about 5, which is 7 at home, and feeling like we have had a full night’s sleep. But then we run out of steam about 9 at night, but have to rock on, because the kids have adjusted much more quickly than we have, and are on Mountain time already. They also seem to have adjusted to the altitude... Meanwhile, David and I are breathless from lugging wood from the forest, or riding the bikes to get coffee. But we are at 5400 feet - a bit higher than Tallangatta! Maybe having spent the last three years at sea level has diminished our lung capacity!
But all in all we are having a bit more of relaxing time here, more tomorrow – we will tell you about the burros…