Monday, September 30, 2013

Buffalo Roundup

Sept. 16-30, 2013 Wheels West RV Park, Custer, SD
7th Cavalry Cafe - Custer, SD
Our rating 4 out of 5
This casual restaurant is right on sight of the Wheels West RV Park.  Under 10 tables.

The wait time for the meal can be a little longer than expected. I believe that is because there is only one cook and he is the the owner of the park.
My waitress made me feel quite uncomfortable. Basically took my order (because she had to) and didn't see her again until time for the check. When Scott went another time, he had the owner's wife as a waitress and she was much, MUCH nicer.
Chicken Fried Steak: I have only had this two times, so cannot not really judge. The meat was tender and the coating was crispy if lacking a little pizazz with some spices.

Dakota Browns

Dakota Browns: This is a breakfast menu item. A casserole consisting of hash browns, sausage (or ham), onions, scrambled eggs all mixed together and smothered in cheese. Yum! Fills a whole dinner plate.
Coffee: The coffee was pretty good. I was able to drink it black as I prefer.
Pancakes: Huge dinner plate sized and pretty good.
Great place for breakfast.

Purple Pie Place -Custer, SD
Our rating 4 out of 5

Stopped here for the lunch special, Chicken Pot Pie for $6.00.

If you are a crust/carbo lover like I am, you'll really enjoy this double crusted chicken pot pie. It is served in a large mug type bowl. With the thick crust on the bottom and top, the meal is as much crust as chicken stew filling. A real comfort meal. Yum!
Bumbleberry? Pie: This is a mixture of berries, apples, peaches, etc. Great filling, but I feel the crust could be flakier and needs some salt added.
Coconut Cream Pie: Perfect!
Scott went into town on his own the other day. He stopped at a couple of rock shops. Rose quartz and mica are in abundance. From the rock and mineral shops around, I suppose there are lots of other beautiful rocks available.
Scott knows that I am going to attempt wire wrapping the stones we've picked up along the way. I can then show them off as a beautiful and unique piece of jewelry. So Scott picked up a couple of cool looking polished rocks for me.
Aren't they cool looking? Thank you Scott. I love you too.

Mt. Rushmore Nat'l Monument - Keystone, SD $15. per car (not covered by Nat'l Parks Pass)
My rating 3 out of 5

There is so much build up for Mt. Rushmore that by the time we sort of saw it, eh. As we were riding up the road to parking, we did pull over and could see Pres. Washington amid plain rocks.  That was pretty cool. But when we actually got to the front of the monument, I thought, "Is that it? It's smaller than I thought." Of course, we probably should have gone to Mt. Rushmore BEFORE Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse is huge and it's just one head.
We brought the dogs and when we arrived to the pay parking lot run by a private company, we were told the dogs couldn't go up to the monument, but there are designated areas for the dogs. We pay our $15.00 parking fee. We head over to the information board and are stopped by security. The dogs can't go there. Huh? We're just walking to the info board 50' ahead. Nope. So basically, the dogs are allowed in the parking lot. I am totalled pissed!!!!!!! Even Scott was angry. He was so angry he didn't even bother walking to the monument. So much for Mt. Rushmore.

Crazy Horse Memorial - Crazy Horse, SD $10.00 per person
My rating 3 out of 5
Crazy Horse Volksmarch $3.00 per person
Scott's rating 5 out of 5
Fairly dog friendly. Dogs are allowed over most of the ground and inside some buildings. If there are hardwood floors the dogs need to be carried.
This is a privately run organization. No government funds are used for this. Although at one time the sculptor was offered a lot of money to turn it over to the National Park Service. The sculptor wanted to keep his work pure, meaning not forced to work to the governments idea for this memorial. This was a memorial for the American Indians.
He is a hero not only because of his skill in battle, but also because of his character and his loyalty to his people. He is remembered for how he cared for the elderly, the ill, the widowed and the children. His dedication to his personal vision caused him to devote his life to serving his people and to preserving their valued culture.
Crazy Horse died young, his life tragically cut short. His spirit, however, remains as a role model of selfless dedication and service to others. Today, his values and his story serve as an inspiration for people of all races.
“My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, also.” — Henry Standing Bear, 1939

The 20 minute movie is well worth seeing. The memorial itself is pretty impressive, but the only way to get closer is by a van ride for $6.00. So they really try to suck as much money out of you as possible. But again, this project is only possible through donations. There is another way to get up close and that is to participate on the Volksmarch.

Volksmarch means "people's walk" in German. It started as a non-competitive fitness walk. In the US, it can be for fitness or just to take a nice walk with a goal. The Crazy Horse Volksmarch is usually only held in June, but a 2nd date was organized and we happened to be here for that. Scott was really excited to get up close and personal with Crazy Horse. This is a 6.2 mile round trip hike. I again couldn't do this because of my ankle still not up to uneven hikes.
This volksmarch in September was the best time to do this. There are usually huge crowds participating, but since this is off season and not the usual time, there was a very manageable group of people participating. The weather was great, about 75° with a breeze and at times high gusts that cooled you off.
Nice walk

Scott meets Crazy Horse
So, if you are ever near Crazy Horse when the Volksmarch is taking place, definitely take part if you are able. And a Memorial entrance fee, only a $3.00 participation fee.

Custer State Park - Custer, SD $15.00 per car, good for up to 1 week
Really nice park on the scale of a National Park. This park covers a huge area. You can go from passing by the Needles, which are huge pointy rock formations, to down in the valley of rolling hills and buffalo roaming, to the back up above the valley riding hairpin turns and cliffs. There are also 3 or 4 beautiful lakes to hike around.
Driving through this park was like driving through a Safari Park! You've got to be very aware of your surroundings while driving. You never know what you may meet up with.
We've officially seen wild, roaming free Buffalo, and right outside our car door!
Butt shot

Very friendly Burros
And traffic was also help up by goats that I didn't get a chance to photograph.
Buffalo Roundup - Custer State Park
The last weekend of September.
Park fee waived for the Roundup.
My rating 5 out of 5
I can't help but rate this a perfect score simply because of the uniqueness of this event. When are you going to be able to see 1000 Buffalo being herded together.
The parking opened at 6:15am, but I was told by a local that there was no need to get there that early. The roundup starts at 9:00am. So I headed out at 6:30am. By the time I got to the area of the backup, it was 7:00am.
Slow moving
They didn't round up all the Buffalo

By the time I got to the parking area it was 9:03am. Yep, 2 hours of creeping along. But we saw beautiful land and animals near here and there.

Also, because it was so slow moving, I multi-tasked. I popped in an audio book to listen to and I pulled out my shamrocks I'm crocheting.

The Buffalo were quite a distance away, and the photos will not look impressive, but oh boy! The anticipation and then to see the horses and cowboys and vehicles directing all these Buffalo coming over the mounds. Wow, wow, wow!

Here they come!
Closer together

I thought I was becoming disenchanted with some of the "must see/bucket list" sights. But Custer State Park and the Buffalo Roundup gave me faith again in the wonders of the USA.
*Update 10/1/13:
Sue from Beluga's Excellent Adventure was wondering the purpose of the Buffalo Roundup and was concerned it was just for slaughter. I can't believe I did not mention this in my post about my Roundup experience.
While at the wonderful Custer Visitor's Center, I asked Fred, the host what the Roundup was for? I asked if it was just a thing to do to bring tourists in. Oh no, not all all. Letting the tourists view was an afterthought. This year was the 48th year for the Roundup. The purpose is to help maintain healthy herds of Buffalo. Custer State Park grasslands can only handle so many Buffalo. If the herd grows too large, there is not enough grasses for the Buffalo to eat and survive the winter. About 1300 head are rounded up annually.
They are first all checked for health. Old and sickly ones are separated for auction for meat, hides, etc. This is actually more humane than letting them stay with the herd. These old and sickly would most likely not survive the winter and suffer a slow death. The Buffalo that can be used for meat are auctioned, then slaughtered and butchered by the State FREE of charge! Of course you need a huge commercial freezer to keep the meat. The State keeps the hide and head. Some of these parts are sold to the local American Indians and others are prepared for sale to the public to raise funds for the State Park.
The healthy ones are branded and blood is taken. The blood is checked for disease, and lineage. Yes, the State cares about not having too much inbreeding which can cause weakness in the herd. So the blood lines they want to separate are auctioned off to private breeders who are looking for specific blood lines (just like reputable dog breeders).
By the time the sorting is complete, the Park should have under 1000 head to release back into the Park. By Spring when Mama's have given birth, the herd is back up to approximately 1300 again and so the cycle begins again.
The day after the Roundup, we took a ride to the corrals, where the sorting has taken place. We pulled over to the side of the road and Devin popped up, "Hmmm, what's that odd odor?" The photo below is our truck parked (it was a windy day), and Devin's first whiff of Buffalo.
Devin gets a whiff of Buffalo
 Corralled Buffalo. See the fencing in the back right for segregation?
Look at that backbone! I thought the poor thing was starving, but I think that is just the way Buffalo are built.
You've got to check out the great video Jenni from Dare You 2 Move put together. I searched YouTube for video of the Roundup, but Jenni's is the best one by far. I suppose it's not as exciting if you weren't there, but this video captures the excitement of first seeing the Buffalo come into sight, the funny parts of a roque Buffalo breaking off on it's own...oh, no you don't, come back here. Hee Haw!
Kitchen garbage can makeover by Scott.
Disclaimer: This was not our idea. We saw it somewhere, be it on a blog, or forum or just surfing.


  1. Thanks for the shout out! I wish I'd gotten better footage of the elk. Don't know if you could see that from where you were, but it was hilarious watching them try to get out of the way.

  2. Yep, we saw the elk go one way, then almost go back towards the buffalo, that finally around to where they sort of started from.


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