I slept GREAT. Love sleeping in the bus and my IKEA mattress is awesome. I snuggled in last night early and slept until about 5 when it got chilly so I turned off the fans and then went back to sleep until like 9! I needed that. And Pepper did too because she was out cold at 9 when I got up. But in true Pepper fashion as soon as I started making her food she got moving! Coffee for me and now planning out my day. The weather is cooler and overcast. Should I go run errands in Rapid City? Should I take advantage of the cooler weather and go for a hike? But first a shower.
I decided to hit the road for Custer State Park, my next overnight. And I’m so glad I did. I headed out at around 10am and took my time on the slow meandering drive from Hot Springs to Custer. The Flag Day parade was setting up in downtown Hot Springs and I must have been one of the last vehicles through because everyone was lined up for the parade and waving at me like I was part of the parade. It was amusing. The parade did force me to deviate from my planned route, but hey, that’s how things go. And as it turned out, the drive was spectacular. I ended up taking State Highway 18 from Hot Springs, turning right at SH 89, to Pringle. Then 385 to 87 and 87 to 16a. Those last two roads were narrow, winding, and hilly. There was even a one-lane bridge. Talk about nerve wracking in a 35’ school bus!
Along the route was gorgeous rolling hills covered in lush green grass and lots of buffalo! When I saw the first buffalo by the side of the road I got so excited! Little did I know I would see a whole herd a little further along. I continued through the park to the town of Custer. The weather was still gray and looked like rain (and it was too early to check-in for my campsite), so I decided to make a pitstop for a few provisions and see what the weather did. As I was eating the sandwich I made in the bus, the skies cleared and the sun came out. I made my way to the campsite and got settled in.
I had a reservation at the Stockade North Campground. This place is gorgeous. It’s just on the northwest side of Stockade lake and after getting the bus settled I took Pepper for a walk down to the lake. She’s 13, so even though the lake was only about 150 yards away, this was a long walk for her. She loved it though and laid down in the grass to enjoy the sun.
I took one look at the lake and thought one thing: PADDLEBOARD! I brought my inflatable Tower Paddleboard with me on the trip and there is nothing better than a nice mountain lake for paddling. It was a little windy, but most of the lake was protected by trees, so I inflated the board and went for it! Day 2 of the trip and already using the paddleboard. Pretty stoked.
I’m really enjoying my stay in Custer State Park. I wish I could stay longer. This place is absolutely stunning. Tomorrow I head to Keystone, SD and Mount Rushmore.
Campground side note: I saw a stump near the side of the bus as I was pulling out of my campsite and thought I had clearance, even with the back of the bus swinging out when I turned. Unfortunately, I had to turn sharper than I planned and I clipped the stump L. In more positive news, the Stockade North campground is really pretty, the hosts are fantastic, and the facilities are very clean. The showers are even tiled and look better than my shower at home!