We woke up at 7:00am, packed our things, and left the hotel.
We went and had breakfast and coffee at a very cool joint called Harriet and Oak. Jeremy got an iced pumpkin spice latte with a breakfast sandwich. I got a hot maple nut latte with a peanut butter chocolate waffle, which completely change my opinion on waffles it was that good!
Wind Cave National Park
We left Rapid City and went to Wind Cave National Park. We drove straight to the visitor's center, only stopping to admire the bison.
Arriving at the visitor's center, we confirmed we were on the tour list, and then walked through the exhibits.
We signed up for the Garden of Eden tour. Ranger Peelee met our tour group in the lower floor exhibit, and we all made our way to a different building with the cave entrance.
Our group stuffed ourselves in groups of ten into an elevator to go down to the cave entrance.
Ranger Peelee gave us a whole performance explaining how box work geologically forms -and let me tell you, there now needs to a broadway show about geology. Not kidding.
We got to explore two "rooms" of the upper level of Wind Cave, where we got to see the box work. Box work is caused by mineralized deposits left behind by water in the cracks of limestone. The limestone itself erodes, leaving the lines of the mineral deposits behind known as box work.
Popcorn was also visible in some formations. Popcorn is formed when a tiny bit of moisture makes its way through the earth and rock, leaving little frozen "beads of sweat" on the undersurface of the rock.
Ranger Peelee also showed us what beingin the cave was like back when they explored by candlelight, which was cool and a bit nerve-wrecking.
We all made our way back up to the elevator, again stuffing into it in groups of ten. Jeremy and I exited the building and walked to see Wind Cave's Natural Entrance.
The First Nations peoples, Oceti Sakowin (Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes), believe Wind Cave is he site of the birth of their people. As souls became ready to join this world, they'd emerge from Wind Cave as humans. If a soul left too soon, it emerged as a bison. There were ribbons tied on branches near the Natural Entrance, left by First Nations to pray to the spirits of the cave. These ribbons are collectively known as "prayer cloths".
The Natural Entrance is where the Maka Oniye, or "breathing earth", is. Differences in air pressure on the surface and in the cave causes air to either blow into the cave or out of the cave. The wind was gently blowing out of the cave entrance the day we were there.
When the natural entrance was discovered by colonizers Jesse and Tom Bingham, they had fun doing literal hat tricks with it back in 1881. The first day they found it the wind was blowing out of the cave and Tom had fun sticking his face near the entrance and having his hat blown off of his head. A few days later, Jesse returned with some friends to show off this trick but the air pressure had changed. Instead, his hat got sucked into the Wind Cave, never to be seen again.
Jeremy and I walked back to the visitor's center.
We shopped in the gift store and grabbed our park map.
We got back into our car and drove around the surface of Wind Cave National Park. We saw several more bison, prairie dogs, and a few pronghorn.
We exited the park on highway five and went to Hot Springs, South Dakota for lunch. We went to Chicago Street Cafe where we both ordered Monte Cristos. Jeremy got sweet potato fries with his, and I got regular fries.
Road Trip Home
I drove from Hot Springs towards home. We stopped briefly in Cheyenne, Wyoming to look for the Starbucks ornament mug, but we didn't have any luck. We got coffee and drove home. We unloaded our car at our house, and then went to Jeremy's parent's house to get our dogs. We returned home, put some of our stuff away, and then went to bed.
it was a very successful trip.