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
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
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
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.