Rapid City has many features that we've enjoyed in several visits
here the past few years. It's a worthy destination in itself, as well as a good
place for tourists to use as a "home base" while they explore the nearby
In this entry I'll include photos from some of the
activities we've done in the two weeks we've been here this time.
Above and below: scenes
from the new Main Street Square on a quiet weekday
One feature we like that I didn't include in the quote above is the wonderful
paved multi-use path that runs the length of the city from east to west,
following Rapid Creek. I'll also show more pictures of the new public square,
scenes from a farmer's market and the annual Pumpkin Festival, and dramatic
sunset photos from Ellsworth AFB.
I'll also include our travel plans for the rest of this week.
We'll be leaving tomorrow so we can get to Ohio for my
brother's wedding this weekend.
SCENES FROM THE BIKE PATH
Every time we've visited Rapid
City in the spring and fall we've gotten out on the fabulous bike trail
that connects several city parks in the green space along Rapid Creek.
Above and below: scenes from the greenway by
the Cleghorn Springs State Fish Hatchery
After the devastating flood of
1972 the floodplain was extended on either side of the creek. No houses
or other structures are permitted to be built within a certain distance
of the water. The silver lining of his major disaster (lots of lives and
property were lost) was the development of miles of linear parks --
and the bike path -- along the creek.
This greenway is a popular place for residents
and visitors to get some exercise. Even on weekdays there are people
walking, running, cycling, and skateboarding on the path and
enjoying other activities in the parks along its length.
I've taken so many pictures
previously along the greenway that I didn't take very many this time.
I "focused" primarily on my favorite park (Canyon Lake) on recent rides:
Although we've had some windy days
since we arrived here the weather has been clear and warm enough for Jim
to enjoy riding his bike almost every day either on base, on nearby
rural roads, or on the bike path downtown.
My favorite activity is walking with
Cody but I get out to ride several times a week, too.
It's not easy for us to ride to
the bike path from Ellsworth AFB but it can be done. We usually just put
our bikes in the truck and drive to the parking area at Founders Park
about midway along the trail, then cycle out and back on the bike path
in both directions from there.
New decorative gas lights are being
installed along this portion of the bike path.
The total length of the paved multi-use path
is about 12 miles. Out and back is double that. It's easy to add on to the distance
if we ride on some connecting paths or residential streets along the way.
On this visit
we found a new dirt section of trail across the creek that was fun to
We also stopped at a small farmersí market at Founders Park during last
Tuesday's ride. All of the vendors were selling fruits,
vegetables, baked goods, preserves, and other colorful food items:
Lots of hot chili peppers
This is what I consider a "farmer's market" to be, not
a bunch of booths with craft items. For those who want crafts, however,
there's also a farmer's/craft market downtown on Saturdays during the
summer and fall.
Last Saturday we drove downtown late in the morning to check out the
weekend farmerís market and the Great Pumpkin Festival at the new square
at 6th and Main St.
Who grew the biggest pumpkin this year? I bet
there was one bigger than this.
Jim wanted to take Cody. Neither of them had much fun because of the
crowd. Cody was overwhelmed by all the people and scents so we walked
past the crafts and food booths rather quickly.
Jim and Cody found a
bench in a quieter, more shady place and waited a few minutes while
I got some pictures of the fountains and granite geometric sculptures
at Main Street Square:
Kids enjoy the interactive fountains; a water show
is set to music and lights at night.
Main Street Square opened to the pubic last fall. It features a
waterfall and interactive fountain in the summer and an ice skating rink
in the winter. There is a large grassy area in the center that is
surrounded by trees, places to sit, handsome granite sculptures, and a
permanent stage for concerts and other events such as this festival.
As you can see there were lots of folks enjoying the warm sunny day at
the festival and in the square.
We left after less than half an hour to reduce the stress on Cody and
On the way back to the truck we walked through part of the historic
business area, which was also rather crowded:
Above and below: the old fire station is now
the Firehouse Brewery
Ellsworth AFB is one of the best places to see spectacular sunsets of
all the places where we've camped around the country. The base sits on a
high plateau with expansive views to the west of nearby metro Rapid City
and the more distant Black Hills.
Although we've seen some memorable sunsets from our campsite at
Ellsworth I've gotten even better shots down at the lakes, with the
colors reflecting in the water.
It's a pleasant 3/4-mile walk to
the lakes in the evening, where I took these
and other dramatic
sunset photos recently:
The sunrises are pretty from the campground and lakes on base, too, but Iím not
usually up and outside that early.
This is our last day in South Dakota.
The past couple days we've done all the normal things we do to get ready
for a long drive to another destination -- cleaning the inside
and outside of the camper and truck, doing whatever maintenance the
vehicles need, checking tire pressures on both vehicles, putting the
TPMS gauges on the camper tires, topping off the tank with diesel
($4.07/gallon, the cheapest right now in Rapid City), doing laundry,
stocking up on food and supplies for a few days, giving Cody a bath,
gathering the necessary maps and other information for our planned route
and alternate bad-weather routes farther south, programming the GPS,
One of the city parks along the greenway
To save time getting
ready to leave tomorrow morning, Jim hooked up the truck to the camper this evening. He'll
dump the gray and black water tanks in the morning so we aren't hauling
all those pounds of waste water.
Since we'll be boon-docking at least
three nights on the road we'll carry about 30 gallons of fresh water.
It's often a hassle to find potable water along the way so we take
enough to drink, do dishes, take showers, etc. The fresh water tank holds about 90 gallons but we
never travel with it more than half full.
We move the camper frequently enough that not
much is left to do on the day of departure. That way we can get an early
start, if needed, and have less stress.
at Canyon Lake Park
Our original plan to leave tomorrow turns out to be a good decision
Although today's temperature is still well above normal for early
October in Rapid City -- balmy mid-80s F. -- a cold front
is coming through sometime tomorrow. The low temperatures Wednesday and
Thursday nights are predicted to be 33-34 F. with a chance of rain or
snow. The highs both days will be in the mid-50s (65 F. is average).
Friday nightís prediction is upper 20s.
Rapid City is going from much higher than normal temps to significantly
below-normal temps in one day.
are a challenge in a 5th-wheel camper, so it's definitely time for us to
get out of here.
Muted colors of sunset behind the water tower at
two bike paths go around the four little lakes
where I like to walk Cody.
We plan to drive east on I-90 through South Dakota tomorrow, then south
along the Nebraska/Iowa border to I-80, staying overnight in Sioux City,
Iowa. Weíll have to see what the prediction is for that area in case we
need to go south first, then east, to avoid cold or snowy weather.
Next entry: summary of the trip back to Virginia -- and the end of
our grand Alaska Adventure <sigh>
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil