Thursday 23rd May, 2013
Lusk, Wyoming to Hill City, South Dakota (202miles/326km)
This morning it was really cold and windy – temperature 42F/5.5C, and after breakfast, which was really good, we set off again. We had been talking to the manager of the motel and he told us a different way to go to the one we had planned, on more back roads than the main road. At around 10:15am we left Lusk and drove out of Wyoming into Nebraska, but we had only gone about 20km along the road and realised that we should have bought petrol before we left as the low fuel light was on. We were worried that we may run out before we reached the next town. When the next town appeared, it had a sign saying there were 15 residents. Needless to say, there was no petrol in that town as well as not much else…so on we went and at Harrison, about 35miles from Lusk, we found a petrol station open and filled up. Problem over but we didn’t fancy having to walk through the desolate countryside where there did not appear to be a living soul. Shortly afterwards, we crossed the border into South Dakota and drove through a town called Ardmore, where there were a number (maybe 20) abandoned houses with old cars round them, and no people anywhere. We wondered what had happened and in the evening we learnt through Google that Ardmore was a ghost town – the last people had left in 2004. Believe it or not we saw another ‘beware of rattlesnakes’ sign today at a scenic picnic spot but we didn’t see any snakes there, unlike yesterday. We then continued through the countryside, mainly through grassland to the north and arrived at Hot Springs, where we looked through The Mammoth Site, where they had discovered the remains of mammoths (among other animals) who had fallen into a sink hole over a period of 300-700 years over 26,000 years ago. So far they have unearthed 60 mammoths and 80 other animals. It is an amazing attraction, only discovered by chance in 1974 when a land developer wanted to build a housing estate on the site. We took a tour of the site – you walk around the edge of the sinkhole on raised walkways and look down on the exposed bones in situ - and then drove into the Custer State Park where there were many animals including bison and antelopes and we even saw a prairie dog (small beaver looking animal). The road was very winding and slow going. Finally we came through a tunnel and saw Mt Rushmore with the carved faces of 4 US Presidents from the beautiful scenic road and then up closer. After that we drove to Hill City, a very pleasant small town just outside the Black Hills National Forest. We stayed in Hill City and walked down to dinner in the town. It was cool, but not as cold as last night or this morning and the weather has been fine today but not particularly sunny – up to about 15-16C max.