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Monday, September 18, 20061158592200

The Black Hills, Part II: Custer State Game Lodge

The beautiful and historic Custer Game Lodge in Custer State Park, South Dakota. Two small wings have been added for extra guests, and a campground is down the road, but the original building just oozes beauty, class, and style. The "Game Lodge" is the epitome of nature and comfort in the state. My cousin's dacha near Scotland has been described as "Game Lodge East," both in reference to his brilliance at decoration and as an homage to what all South Dakotans aspire to.

The Game Lodge has played its role in American history, serving President Coolidge as the 1927 version of the Western White House. Eisenhower, who vacationed here, gets a small and obviousl added-in plaque

The Game Lodge is surrounded by small hills. Lady and I decided to climb one, and half way up we met (hid from at close range behind big rocks) a buffalo. This creature, who is not referred to by any non-pretentious South Dakotans as a "bison," is not tame and kills a tourist or so a year.

Even the flowers are tough out West River!

The Black Hills, which Wikipedia describes as "island of trees in a sea of grass," itself is a sea of trees with islands of grass above. A bad fire years ago burned much of Custer State Park, and it is through miracles (as well as firefighters) that the historical lodges survived. The top of the hill we climbed was destroyed, and offers the sort of views not seen anywhere else in the state.

Evidence of the destruction:

Welcome back down, Lady of tdaxp and I decided to take a "short-cut" (actually, it was my idea). "This looks like an easy trail!" I thought. Ha!

The last part of our stay at Custer State Game Lodge was the famous wildlife loop. Buffalo move in small herds from one place to the next, and we followed the migration of one such group.

The grasslands of the Hills also are home to more graceful herbivores.

Not native to the Hills, the "begging burros" are the cute descendants of donkeys once used by the Park to bring visitors to the top of hills. They were let loose, and they learned (as the deer and buffalo never did) that visitors will feed them if they act docilely. These donkeys are spoiled. Unlike regular donkeys, who will east grass out of your hand, the begging burros want good food.

All is not peaceful, however. Several of the animals had visibly nipped ears, presumably from intra-donkey rivalries.

The Black Hills, a tdaxp series
0. Pierre
1. Crazy Horse
2. Custer State Game Lodge
3. Blue Bell Lodge
4. Mount Rushmore
5. Goofy Custer
6. The Badlands


Custer State Park is really nice. As I kid I was very excited that next to our camping spot was a buffalo chip! We camped there as a base for visiting the surrounding areas for a week or so. I remember that we took an open air jeep ride up close and personal with the hurd.

Posted by: purpleslog | Monday, September 18, 2006

Haha -- I may not be a farm kid, but I'm close enough to have known that chips are not good things!

They still offer jeep rides. Until they turned offroad we were right behind them on the Loop, which was a neat experience.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, September 18, 2006