Saturday July 4: Newcastle, WY to Rapid City, SD

86 miles, up and over the Black Hills. A great day!!

Ro's Phrase Of The Day:
Worth a Second Look!

We left Newcastle fairly early, and found rather quickly two historical markers -- this having been an area which supported many boom-and-bust towns, this wasn't surprising. The first is for Field City, and the second is for Camp Jenney. I was having a slow time getting started this morning, so needless to say these historical markers were welcomed (by me -- Ro's motor was going strong!). Lynn and Tom found us at the second marker, and asked us about something they'd mentioned to Ro the night before; they had two separate hotel reservations in Rapid City, and wanted to know if we wanted to take the other one. We did! They gave us the numbers for the Days Inn, and we headed on.

Pit .5 was at the South Dakota border, only 11 miles into our ride. This picture is of Ro, Jen, Laura, Lynn, and Tom. We then headed up a really steep set of climbs up to the Black Hills National Forest. Some of these climbs were really steep! Pit 1 was at 22 miles; they escorted us in packs through the next 4.5 miles because of the increased Fourth Of July traffic and the road conditions (no shoulder, narrow road, steep ups and downs). We missed the Jewel National Monument caves because of this, but we'd already decided that we'd have to come back to the Black Hills when we had more time (and a car to carry all the souveneirs we'd buy!).

We did stop just before lunch at a place called Wild Bill's Rock Shop and Antique Store ( here's a shot of the sign). I love these stores, and yes, we did buy a rock. Goldstone, to be precise. It's apparently not able to be made anymore because all the German monks who knew how to make it died. Either way, it's really pretty. And it will help on the downhills! Yeah, that's it! We then passed a family amusement park I think I'd seen one of in the Grand Canyon -- a Flintstone's place. Lunch was with Lynn and Tom at the Dakota Cowboy Cafe (and yes, a picture of their sign, too) in Custer. It was very yummy, filling, and they had a great "Fruits of the Forest Pie", which had apple, blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb, and some other things all in one pie. Maybe not for everyone, but I loved it. We also got an engraved Sheriff's badge for Keith (who has a badge, but not with his name) and one for Ro. Whoo-hoo!

We skipped pit 2, which was only about 3 blocks from lunch, and headed towards our promised long downhill (Custer is basically at the top of the eastern edge of the higher Black Hills mountains which are on Hwy 16). The rock formations of the granite are amazing, really -- even the "normal" stuff is really cool. We finally reached our downhill after winding around through Custer State Park for a while. It truly was a great hill -- no shoulder but the turns were just fine for a bike to take at the same speed as the speed limit of traffic, so no passing RVs were dealt with. Still, it took a long time to get down! We stopped halfway down at Coolidge gift shop/general store, got orange push-up popsicles, a postcard, and a magnetic refridgerater buffalo. And a picture of Ro, EJ, and Mary.

We came out through the foothills following hwy 36 E, and found pit 3 just after the turn north on 79, in Hermosa, which is 15 miles south of town. We'd definitely gotten out of the Black Hills now! However, for the first time in several days we turned north, and got quite a tailwind as we closed in on Rapid City. We had steep rolling hills, but the tailwind made everything much easier.

When we got into town, 79/90E started getting more like a freeway, so we followed the route directions long enough to find a gas station with a pay phone, and called Days Inn, got directions, and rode directly there. We needed to get to camp to get our bags, so we called Rushmore Cab (sugg. of hotel) around 6:10pm, but by 7:30 they still weren't there, and we'd even called them around 7pm and they'd said they'd "be right over". Hmmmph. Eventually Ro asked the front desk to call another cab company, and a wonderful relationship with Rapid Taxi was born. Our first trip, our driver was Barry, with a van for the baggage, a really cool guy who knows just about everything about the city. The hotel hadn't told him that this was a round trip, though, so we had to do some re-arranging and tight squeezes to get 6 more people and a few more bags into the van at the campsite, after we'd gotten our stuff. No problem, we eventually made it back to the hotel.

So, we took our showers, and ate at restaurant next door (the Millstone) but it was 9:20 by the time we got over there, and fireworks started at 10pm. However, we did get a window seat, and when the fireworks started they dimmed most of the lights so we could see pretty well. Happy Fourth!

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