Having enjoyed our visit to Cedar Rapids we continued our trek towards Montana to visit our dear family friends Nancy and John Bohlinger.
Our first stop becomes Sioux Falls, South Dakota where we visited the “falls” in the center of town. It was a beautiful park and the falls was a pleasure to see.
The evening we stayed at another Harvest Host location outside of Sioux Falls in Hartford, South Dakota called Central Valley Golf Course, They could not have been more pleasant. They were actually having a fundraiser tournament for the golf course and had 144 golfers in the morning and another 144 in the afternoon. That evening they were having entertainment and a party which we were invited to attend. The only issue was the parking area is pretty much a “downhill or uphill lie”, we choose the downhill with our feet a little below our heads in the bed for the night. They have some level places up next to the pro shop to park, but with the crowd, the spaces were taken and we would have to move the RV around 11:00 PM. Past our bedtime!
We continued the drive early in the morning to Rapid City, SD where we had a 12:30 tee time for a course we were going to write about. The Golf Course at Red Rock was fun.
The greens were terrific it was a very hilly course with some blind shots. The Par 3’s are directly downhill shots sometimes 100 feet. We missed playing the last hole as a thunderstorm blew in but another great day on the links.
The Naked Winerhy of South Dakota
We had picked another Harvest Host location for the night, The Naked Winery, in Rapid City North Dakota. We pulled in and the owner showed us where to park, a lovely spot behind the winery on a stream. We then headed in to taste some wines. The owner ended up having us try many of the wines they make. Most have a name and description that could be taken in many ways. Climax Red, Penetration, Orgasmic line of their better wines. All fun and many of the wines are wonderful. We joined the wine club and purchased six bottles to take with us. We had a great time, the owner, Rob was funny and we have to admit some really good wines.
Deadwood, South Dakota – Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok
Off early in the morning still on our way to visit the Bohlinger’s, as we drove along and realized we would be in Deadwood and could visit the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.
We drove to the location only to find the road up did not permit RVs and we would have to take a bus from town to visit the site and it did not open for an hour so..we missed the stop. The story about why she is buried next to Hickok is priceless:
Four of the men who planned her funeral later stated that Wild Bill Hickok had “absolutely no use” for Jane while he was alive, so they decided to play a posthumous joke on him by giving her a resting place by his side. The Diaries of John Hunton, Made to Last, Written to Last, Sagas of the Western Frontier, Michael Giseke pp 89
As we drove through Deadwood we saw signs on the buildings where Hickok was murdered, it was early in the day so not many of the places were open.
We bid ado to Deadwood and continued on the way trying to plan and arrival at about 1 pm Mountain Time, we were changing time zones again.
We arrived at John and Nancy’s and had the pleasure of meeting John’s sister visiting from Little Rock. We had little time for talking as we were invited to John’s daughter Jan’s house for the birthday party for her grandson from Charleston. John’s other daughter JoLynn was attending with her family. It was fun to meet both Jan and JoLynn’s grown children.
It was such a pleasure to meet John’s many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. John Wilson hadn’t seen the girls in many years, so it was fun to catch up. It was a great party and we had plenty to eat and drink!
Back to John’s and we headed to bed early. In the morning John made us his “cheesy eggs” which were delightful. We enjoyed coffee and conversation and leisurely left around 10:30. We had the pleasure of John and Nancy visiting us in Flagler Beach after Christmas last year and it was so great to see them again.
We had a few stops to make in Billings on our way out of town. John needed some help with his new hearing aids. The hearing aid place fixed our “user error” in 5 minutes, tested then and we were on our way. Next stop was the Mercedes dealer for an oil change for the RV. After two hours we were back on the road heading just past Bozeman to Camp Three Forks for the night, in Three Forks, Montana.
Janice found the Lewis and Clark Caverns in Whitehall, Montana. We planned to tour them in the morning.
Lewis and Clark Caverns
Discovery of the Caverns
The cavern was discovered In 1892 when two local ranchers Tom Williams and Bert (or Burt) Pannel saw steam coming from the caverns while hunting in the winter. The temperature in the cave stays at about 50-60 degrees no matter how cold it is outside thereby creating that steam. This was the only entrance to the cave, quite a drop into the cavern. Its was not until several years later in 1898 that Tom Williams and a few friends dropped in to the cave to explore it.
Around 1900 Dan A. Morrison, who called it Limespur Cave, blasted a new opening to make a tour entrance. He laid wooden stairs so he could conduct tours through the caves. He filed a mineral claim on the land in 1905, but the Northern Pacific Railroad disputed his claim and filed a court case against him. The railroad won the court battle and then handed the land over to the federal government. In 1911 it was declared a National Park under the control of Yellowstone but kept closed for over 30 years.
This didn’t stop Dan Morrison’s tours. The cavern was locked closed by the National Park Rangers who came by horseback to check on it a few times a year. Morrison cut the lock and install his own. The story is the feds cut his lock added the government lock and then Morrison did the same! He continued to fight for his caverns and defy the government orders until his death, in 1932, at the age of 80. On the tour, they showed some of Morrisons steps. The tours he conducted were with miners helmets. The visibility was slight at best!
1935 the Caverns became the first Montana State Park
In 1935, Montana Governor Frank Cooney began requesting the federal government to make the caverns a state park. By 1937, Congress signed the papers. On April 22, 1938, Lewis and Clark Caverns, Morrison Cave became Montana’s first State Park.
The state wanted the caverns open to the public so the public could see these magnificent formations in the caves. Something was needed for the safety of the tourists. The Montana government negotiated to have the cavern project became one of the many Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) projects in the nation.
About 200 workers built roads and the visitor center. They hauled bat guano (used for fertilizer) out of the cave and improved accessibility. Steps in many areas of the cave were carved out by CCC workers. They widened passages to make particularly beautiful chambers more accessible. The young men explored the caverns, making remarkable new discoveries. They excavated an exit and installed the first electric lighting.
The CCC did this work over many years using many of the steps and paths made by Morrison for his tours, they found more caverns and extended the route down to the bottom of the cave. After World War II the wooden steps were replaced. We could see signs of those old stairs as we toured the caverns.
Note: The CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps was a voluntary public work relief program created as part of the New Deal after the depression, It operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to ages 17–28. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000. Through the course of its nine years in operation, 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a wage of $30 (equivalent to $580 in 2018) per month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families.
This tour was fabulous. The first leg was to hike 3/4 of a mile up the mountain. The guide said we would be 300 feet higher when we got to the entrance, tough hike for our old bones but we kept up with the group and made it to the entrance!
The cave is the home to Townsend Big Ear Bats, we saw a few just inside the entrance sleeping with their babies. While they have baby bats they are in a maternal nesting area and the mothers take turns going our to get food while the other mothers take care of their baby. These bats feed primarily on moths and oner the years the moths built up ways to hear the bats and produce their own noises to “jam” the bats to avoid death. Now the bats, over the years, have grown their ears even bigger to detect the moths. Now if the moth detects a bat signal it drops the ground to avoid being eaten. The animal kingdom constantly changes for survival, even the human species.
We walked another mile through the caverns, the walk was not exactly how it happens! There were over 500 carved stairs from formations and poured concrete. At one point you slide down a portion on your tail. You constantly must avoid hitting our head on the ceiling! Some trail!
The Speleologists that have studied this cave believe it to be over 300 million years old. It is believed to have been created when water from the river seeped into the limestone which carved out this fabulous structure. When Dan Morrison gave tours in the early 1900’s he allowed the people to break off a piece of stalactites, stalagmites as a souvenir of their tour, it is estimated they took over 300 tons of materials out of the caves!
As we went along you can see the flat end of the structures, some have a small piece sticking down, the new growth. The structures grow at about 1 inch every ten years…Holy Cow!
We saw a column (one oft he formations in caves, that had broken off, when you look at the piece still standing you see new growth, estimated to be about 8 foot tall, that means it probable broke off about a thousand years ago! The lighting in the caverns, of course, made some of the formations even a little eerie but it was magnificent.
Too many beautiful formations, too much fun, if you are near the caverns do not miss this two to two and one half hour tour!
Big Sky Brewery in Missoula
We departed the caverns and headed to our next Harvest Host site in Missoula Montana called Big Sky Brewery. This site was perfect and the beer was great, they are very large and ship to 16 states and 3 countries. The beer they’re the best know for is Moose Drool, a brown ale. John tried it and enjoyed it. It has a ting of a coffee flavor. They had us park in the back of the brewery on a flat parking area, another sprinter park there later in the evening. It was a perfect spot
The Idaho Club
We took our time the next morning to head out our destination was in Idaho, The Idaho Golf Club in Sandpoint, where we were going to do a write up on the course. Driving on the by-ways we see lots of animals, including the large buck above, he was on one side of the road the others on our side waiting on traffic. When we arrived at the Idaho Club they could not have been nicer telling us about the course and its condition. This course has gone through some tough times financially and has been purchased by a group out of Florida so they can continue to develop the residential properties while maintaining the golf course conditions. The prices of lots on the property run into the millions if it faces the water up on the cliffs.
The course is in excellent condition with each hole being well kept. The course does not route easily and sometimes you feel like you are playing 18 independent holes. It is tough as nails and easy to loose golf balls in a flash.
We enjoyed the round of golf and then headed out to our next overnight at a Harvest host site, Matchwood Brewing Company in Sandpoint. The next morning we headed out towards Washington State, next leg of our adventures.
Well the common denominator is golf, wine or beer. What more do you really need in life.
sounds like a beautiful part of the Country your visiting, stay safe.