2008 Western Adventure


Day 11 - June 30, 2008

After a good nights rest I work up to another picture perfect day.  I took my time getting ready and packing the bike because I knew I had a short ride today.  The first order of business was to ride around Sturgis and get a few pictures, which I did.  After getting a few pictures I found my way back to Highway 90, and headed south towards Mt. Rushmore.

My first detour was the Black Hills National Cemetery, which is just south of Sturgis.  The cemetery was a sad reminder of the turmoil that still exists in this world. In fact, a funeral procession was coming in as I was leaving. 

Much to my surprise I ran into the Reptile Gardens, which for some reason I thought was a little farther south.  I pulled into the parking lot, that was pretty full....a good sign of its popularity.  I secured my gear and headed for the entrance.  I was greeted by an extremely friendly person that gave me a quick rundown on the gardens and its various shows.  As soon as I walked in the alligator show was about to start.  I got a seat in the shady part of the bleachers and got my camera ready for the show.  The young man first gave us a rundown on the various gators and crocks that they had in the facility.  He then asked if we wanted to see him wrestle on of the bigger gators.  He selected one of the alligators in the pond that surrounded the enclosure.  He then proceeded to jump on its back and told us some more information about the gator.  He then opened the gators mouth and stuck his hand inside.  He said that he was safe as long as he didn't touch the inside of his mouth,,,,yeah right!  It was a good show and very informative.

The snake show started right after the gator show, so I hustled over to that show.  Again, it was very informative, and the young man showed us several different snakes, both venomous and non-venomous.  I talked with the fellow after the show, and asked him when he started working at the Reptile Gardens.  He said that he started at the age of 16, and did mostly clean-up stuff.  He had a real love for reptiles and learned as much as he could and is now a senior reptile keeper. 

The bird show started soon after the reptile show, and they used several people from the audience to help them with the show.  They brought out a number of birds, but the most impressive where the birds of prey, like hawks and the bald eagle, and the scavengers, like the King Vulture.  Again, they told us a lot about the different birds.

They had a prairie dog enclosure that was very innovative.  You could go underground and look through a plastic bubble that was at ground level.  I decided not to go underground since one of the people said it was extremely hot.  I still got some great pictures of the little critters.  They also had a special display for the Galapagos turtles, and one of the attendant's was present full time to give you information on these giant's.

They had all kinds of special exhibits, but the most impressive was the two-story reptile building that held one of the best collection's of reptiles that I have ever seen.  The structure itself was very impressive.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at the wide variety of reptiles, which included little and big snakes, both venomous and non-venomous.  They also had a good collection of frogs, lizards, and various types of gator's and lizard's. 

I know that My grandson, Kevin, would enjoy going through this facility.  He is the assistant curator of reptiles at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, and had just opened a new reptile exhibit last month. 

After spending a considerable amount of time in the Reptile Garden's, I got back on my motorcycle and headed south once again.  Mt. Rushmore, was still high on my agenda, and the sun was on the downside of its arc when I pulled into the Mt Rushmore area.  I had been to Mt. Rushmore when I was was very young, but didn't remember it being quite as touristy.  I took a lot of pictures, but the sun was already too low for taking the best pictures of he presidents heads.  Using the zoom and lightening up the exposure helped a bit.  I walked around the main platform a bit, and took pictures from different angles,.  After I felt that I had enough pictures, I got a cold bottle of water, and polished it off in no time.  It was time to head down the mountain and find somewhere to lay my head.  I was tempted to look for something close to Rushmore, but didn't really want to get caught up in the tourist trap, so I headed down the mountain.  As it turns out, I'm staying at a nice little mom and pop in Hot Springs, SD.

With a DQ right across the street, I indulged in some more fast food.  I actually think I'm losing some weight...I think. I'll know by the time I get to San Diego.   Good Night!




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