And that’s just what the Lindfors did! The Black Hills! They headed to Hill City, South Dakota for a two-night stay in the Black Hills National Forest, just south of Mount Rushmore– near Custer and Crazy Horse State Parks. “We hated to leave the Badlands,” says Steven Lindfors. “That is one of the most beautiful and unique places I’ve ever seen. We are so glad we took the time. And we’re still talking about those prairie dogs!
The Lindfors report that the buffet breakfast served at Cedar Pass Lodge was a great way to end their stay In the Park. Monday morning Steven, Janet, Steven and Eric loaded in the car and proceeded further west toward Rapid City. “We’ve seen so many animals.” Steve exclaims. “So far Big Horn Sheep, a coyote, a full Bison herd, the Prairie Dogs (of course—we can’t leave out the Prairie Dogs) and, most incredibly, mountain goats right beneath the faces on Mount Rushmore. “That was just wild,” he goes on. “We’ve also seen lots of birds…many blue birds and a Meadow Lark. I was hoping to see one of those! The Lindfors are moving so fast, Discoverette is having a hard time keeping up with them. Rambunctious is an understatement.
When last we spoke on Tuesday evening August 17, the clan had just returned from a local Dinner Theatre Show. They’d had a fantastic knee-slapping time, especially Janet who “got down” with the folk music and singing. The band featured a banjo player, flute, violin, fiddles, and base guitar plus singers. “Well, there’s probably nothing like this on Long Island, so no wonder it was such a thrill.” “We laughed and sang;had a great time!” said Steven, which was obvious from the sound of his voice.
“So what else have you been up to?” I probe. “We’ve had so much fun over the last couple of days I don’t really know where to begin. We were at Mount Rushmore during the day and at night for a very impressive presentation. The lights came on the Presidents’ faces while the crowd was singing The National Anthem. Talk about feeling patriotic! The weather has been good…in fact, perfect,” he adds.
Like most folks in the area, the Lindfors drove the Needles Highway–14 gorgeous miles of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway named after its granite rock formations that look like needles. How very clever, I think. The curvaceous and narrow road (that folks said would be impossible to build back in 1919) takes awe-inspired motorists through stunning scenery, by Sylvan Lake, and through some of the tiniest tunnels on the planet. “The kids enjoyed getting out and doing some real rock climbing,” says Steven. This was quite the road to navigate! We also went to Jewel Cave National Park,” Steven adds without missing a beat. “It was the most beautiful cave I’ve ever seen in my life. Yep, best cave I’ve ever been too,” he confirms. (With just a little bit of research, I find that Jewel Cave is the second longest cave system in the world–with 151 miles of known passageways. No wonder this place got such a superlative review!)
OK, now to the “true grit” questions:
Q. Have there been any fights along the way? How’re you guys getting along?
A. Nope, not a one. We’re so busy and active there’s no time for arguing. It’s been a terrific vacation so far.
Q. What’s the best meal you’ve had?
A. Well, Janet really liked the roasted chicken at the Dinner Theatre. She said it was delicious…but she likes roasted chicken a lot to begin with. My oldest son Steven liked the barbecue sandwich he had at Mount Rushmore and I LOVED the Bison Stew they served there. It was out-of-this-world good. The youngest son? Well, he eats nothing but chicken fingers. Everywhere we go, it’s chicken fingers. So we know what his favorite meal is.
Q. So, where do you head next?
A. Wednesday we plan to see Custer’s Battlefield–The Little Big Horn–and then it’s on to Devil’s Tower. By nightfall we hope to make Billings, Montana. We’ll talk to you in a couple of days–once we arrive in Billings. After that it’s on to Yellowstone.
Q. How much shopping has Janet done?
A. Alot. Yes, alot. (I hear laughing in the background.)
Don’t you wish you were “a fly on the wall” in the car with the Lindfors? Discoverette sure does! Laughing, joking, taking in the sights! They’re experiencing America for real, not via the Travel Channel. They’re getting out there with ordinary folks and fellow travelers, experiencing wildlife, greenery, rivers and lakes, Monuments and National Parks. They’re connecting emotionally with musicians, and artists and history. And, they’re feeding prairie dogs! And, most importantly, they’re doing it together, as a family and creating memories that will be with them for years.
I don’t know about you, but this inspires me to “head for the hills” myself–with my family! Let’s get our bags packed!