Having the foot problem while on our trip was a real downer, but the one thing I am thankful for is the fact that the foot problem prompted us to change our plans and leave Glacier National Park a day early and head for South Dakota instead. I am grateful for that because our ride on Day 13 was incredible! We knew we needed to get an early start to beat some of the heat, so we were up and going early and on our way from Rapid City to Keystone. From there we rode up to Mt. Rushmore and then on Horse Thief Road which was totally awesome. I thought we would need to get to Needles Highway for the good roads and fun to start, but this road was so great all on its own that getting there WAS the fun. Following that we did hit Needles Highway with its incredible scenery, tunnels, views of Mt. Rushmore and narrow winding roads! We even took a detour and road up a very narrow and curvy gravel road that wound up and up Mt. Coolidge to a historic fire tower that is still in use today. The views from the top were amazing. Next it was on to the Custer Wildlife Loop. Now I had been on this loop several times throughout my life. Sometimes we saw wildlife, sometimes we saw nothing. I was hoping it would be a wildlife sort of day, and I was not disappointed! We started out with a turkey which is something we see around home all the time, and Dale said it better get better than that. I told him we were working our way up. Then we saw an antelope…not bad. Then we rounded a turn from way up high and looked down in the valley and it was FULL of buffalo! How exciting to see so many and the herd was right on the road we had to drive on. We descended and found ourselves surrounded by buffalo…the babies were my favorite. We were stuck in one place for a long time because people were stopped all over trying to get pictures and because the buffalo were in the road blocking the route. Dale was a little nervous…it’s not like being in a car where you are pretty protected. These guys were coming within a few feet of us and the males were very protective, rushing up and pushing the females and babies back away from cars and people. So, while we enjoyed the views immensely, we were happy to get moving again as spaces opened up and we could drive around other cars. After that we saw several groups of wild burros and tons of antelope. It was a great drive through the wildlife! Next we were on to Iron Mountain Road, another great ride with the cool wooden “pig tail” turns. We ended up back in Keystone for lunch and then headed back to Rapid City with a few quick stops to get a picture with Smokey the Bear at a Ranger Station and some dinosaurs at Dinosaur Park. After loading up the motorcycle and gear we headed for Oacoma, SD where we had stayer on our first night of vacation, and spent our last night in the same hotel. We had come full circle! What an amazing adventure!
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