Craft Beer tours of the Black Hills

Craft Breweries are increasing in popularity, and the Black Hills of South Dakota has several good brew pubs to stop in for a sample or two. All the brew pubs have flight  tastings so you can try small samples of several different styles of beer, from wheat to pale ales to stouts.  They all offer growlers, where you can fill up a 64 ounce container of beer to take home with you.  But such a giant container does not fit so well in the small, shallow refrigerators in an RV.  So we just opted to stop in for samples (but not all in the same day!)

The Buglin’ Bull Restaurant and Sports Bar in downtown Custer, SD has a full service restaurant on one half, and a bar on the other half.  They also have a rooftop deck as well.  With just 4 different selections of craft beers, they offered the least variety, but still had some good flavors.  We both enjoyed the Elk Poop Stout the best.

 

Buglin Bull

Buglin Bull

4 tasty samples

4 tasty samples

 

The Firehouse Brewing Company, in downtown Rapid City, is housed in Rapid City’s first firehouse, built in 1915.  It has a full service restaurant, with a wide variety of food, and reasonable prices.  The have a rotation of nine craft beers on tap, including seasonal brews.

Firehouse Brewing Company

Firehouse Brewing Company

These were the beers on tap on the day we did some sampling.  Lot’s of different types of ales, from pale ales, brown ales, Scottish ales as well as wheat beers, stouts, and a very good cider beer called Teachers Pet.  Normally we don’t care for the cider beers, but this one had more of a beer flavor than the sour apple flavor.

Brews on tap

Brews on tap

It took some doing, but we managed to get through the long line of beers to sample!!!

9 tasty samples

9 tasty samples

Crow Peak Brewery in Spearfish, SD was established in 2007,and is the only brewery that offers cans and bottles of their flavorful beer (Although they have a very limited selection).

Crow's Peak Brewery

Crow’s Peak Brewery

They have a large variety of beers, including seasonal selections.  When the menu is on a chalkboard, you can expect a constantly changing variety of fresh beers.

The "menu"

The “menu”

They have tasting flights of 4 beers.  Our favorite beer was the Pagan Stout, which they unfortunately do not (yet) bottle.

our samples

our samples

Miner Brewing Company in Hill City, SD is a brand new, opening in the fall of 2013.  The owner/brewmaster is part of the family that owns the Prairie Berry Winery that is located next door.  We stopped in several times for tasting, as they also rotate the beers on tap.

Miner Brewery

Miner Brewery

When our friends Forest and Mary stopped in for a visit, we stopped off for some sampling after a day of playing tourist.

Cheers Forest & Mary

Cheers Forest & Mary

They have a wide variety of beers, and we all enjoyed their oatmeal stout.

Miner's sampler

Miner’s sampler

Bitter Esters Brewhouse is right in the heart of downtown Custer.   They pride themselves on using locally grown ingredients whenever possible.  They also consider themselves to be a Nano brewery, which is a very small craft brewer.  They offer a limited menu of food.

downtown Custer, SD

downtown Custer, SD

They have a variety of beers, brewed in small batches.

colorful brews

colorful brews

The Sick-n-Twisted Brewery shares space with the Naked Winery in Hill City, SD.

Sick n Twisted

Sick n Twisted

They had the largest variety of beers, but we were not too impressed with the ones we were able to sample.  They did have some creative names for their beers.

a creative lineup

a creative lineup

IMG_20140703_140724_353 (1)

If you do enjoy beer, and you are in the area, stop in for a sample or two.  Our favorites were Crow Peak, Miner Brewery and Firehouse Brewery.

We did sample several glasses of wine at three of the wineries just north of Hill City: The Naked Winery, Prairie Berry, and Stone Faces. We did enjoy several of the selections at Stone Faces, but we did not care for most of the samples we tried at the other two.

Quote for the day:  Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.

– Cliff Clavin, of Cheers

Chapel in the Hills

Rapid City, SD is home to the Chapel in the Hills, an exact replica of the Borgund Stavkirke built around 1150 in Laerdal, Norway.  A stave church is a medieval wooden Christian church building, named because the load-bearing posts are called stav in Norwegian.  The Chapel, completed in July of 1969, was originally built as the home for the “Lutheran Vespers” radio program.  When that program moved to Minnesota in 1975, it left no support for the Chapel, and a non-profit organization was formed.  The Chapel is now an ELCA church, although it has no congregation, and receives no funding from the organization. Private donations, gift shop sales and wedding fees support the Chapel.  It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

front view

front view

The front door of the Chapel is known as the “men’s door”, as men stood on one side of the church, women and children on the other side, in early times of the church.  Women and children entered through the side door, known as the women’s door.

side view

side view

 

inside facing altar

inside facing altar

In the photo below, Dan is looking though the leper’s window.  A person with leprosy, an infectious skin disease, was not permitted to enter the main church, but could receive communion through this window.

the leper's window

the leper’s window

A prayer walkway has been added to the grounds behind the Chapel.

view back on prayer path

view back on prayer path

There are sculptures along the path with inspirational messages.

never lose faith

never lose faith

The gift shop has a grass roof and displays the flag of Norway.

gift shop

gift shop

There is also a small museum, in an original Norwegians settler’s log cabin, that was relocated from Keystone, SD.  The museum has many items used by the early immigrants.  And of course, they have statues of Ole and Lena in front!

Ole and Lena

Ole and Lena

inside their cabin

inside their cabin

We were surprised at how tiny the Chapel was, but enjoyed the visit.  It would be a nice place to have a small wedding at.

Quote for the day:  (well it’s more of a Norwegian joke of the day) “One Sunday morning, the Lutheran pastor noticed Ole standing in the foyer of church staring up at a large plaque.  It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it.  The old Norwegian had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside Ole, and said quietly, ‘Good morning Ole.’

‘Good morning Pastor,’ he replied, still focused on the plaque.  ‘Pastor, vat is dis?’  The pastor said, ‘Well, it is a memorial to all the men and women who died in the service.’  Soberly, they just stood together staring at the large plaque.

Finally, Ole’s voice, barely audible and trembling with fear asked, ‘Vich service, da 8:30 or da 10:45?’

A day of Geology and Geography

We are currently in Kentucky, but I will be posting a few more blogs from South Dakota.

With a dog sitter in place for Makena (thanks Dick and Cheryl), we took a day trip over to Devils Tower, Wyoming, about 120 miles from Custer, SD.  In 1906, Devils Tower became the nations first national monument.  It plays a prominent part in the classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” movie from 1978.

a view from afar

a view from afar

There are two theories about how the tower formed, one from geologists, and the other from Native Americans.  Geologists agree that the tower is an intrusion, formed by magma, and has been exposed by erosion.  There are multiple theories on how this occurred, but in simple terms, as the rock cooled, it contracted and formed hexagonal columns.  (Todays math lesson: a hexagon has 6 sides)

The Native American legend is several girls were playing and a bear began chasing them.  As they tried to get back to their tribe, they jumped on a rock and began praying to the rock to save them.  The rock, only several feet in height, began rising out of the ground, out of reach of the bear.  The bear attempted to claw its way to the top, forming the “claw” marks on the tower, but was unable to do so.  Devils Tower remains sacred to many tribes today.

getting closer

getting closer

 

Devils Tower, WY

Devils Tower, WY

There is a relatively easy 1.3 mile walking trail encircling the tower, affording many different views of the columns.  The base of the tower has a large rock pile, from the rock believed to have fallen off after the magna had cooled.  The rocks at the base have been slowly eroding away, further exposing more of the columns of the tower.

Close Encounters

Close Encounters

 Devils Tower, at a height of 867 feet, is a very popular park for rock climbing.  There is a voluntary closure during the month of June, as many Native American Tribes hold ceremonies during this month.  We were able to watch 3 climbers for a while.  If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the three, one at the top center, middle left, and bottom center. (you may need to click on the photo to enlarge it)

3 hikers

3 hikers

In 2008, Japanese sculptor Junkyu Muto installed a sculpture on the property, “Circle of Sacred Smoke”.  The sculpture represents the first puff of smoke from the pipe used by Native Americans during their ceremonies.  The two granite boulders beneath the sculpture are blast fragments from Crazy Horse Memorial.

scultpure

sculpture

view thru sculpture

view thru sculpture

After soaking up all the geology, we heading over to Belle Fourche, SD to finish up with some Geography and History.  Belle Fourche (pronounced Bell Fuush), is the geographic center of the United States of America.

Belle Fourche, SD

Belle Fourche, SD

There is a large monument, with a geographic marker that I am standing on.  Been there, done that!

standing in the middle

standing in the middle

All fifty state flags surround the monument.

the monument

the monument

Also at the monument is the Tri-State Museum (free admission, donations welcome) which has some interesting items on display.  For the ladies that wanted curls, they could go down to the beauty parlor and sit under this machine, that looks like something found in a Frankenstein movie!

high tech perm machine

high-tech perm machine

The museum had a photograph showing a women getting her hair done.  It did not state how long this process took.

getting a perm

getting a perm

Vacuum cleaners have come a long was as well.  This is the Great Northern Vacuum Cleaner, made in Chicago, Illinois.  It is not electric, but a suction plunger model.

vacuum cleaner

vacuum cleaner

This is the Ironrite Mangle, a 1940’s model ironing machine.  You would feed your clothes into the heated roller.

ironing machine

ironing machine

Below is the Hodge Bootery X-Ray Shoe Fitting Machine, which was popular in the late 1940s and early 1950’s.  The shoe salesperson would take an x-ray of your feet to determine your proper shoe size.  In 1950, they realized the hazards from the radiation, and by 1970, 33 states had banned the machines.

shoe x-ray machine

shoe x-ray machine

The museum was also selling a poster of ‘Crazy Horse’, with a disclaimer that it is “believed” to be the only known photograph taken of him, in 1877.  In reality, no known photograph of Crazy Horse exists.

Crazy Horse??

Crazy Horse??

It was an interesting day, and the museum was a nice little find.  We would recommend a trip out to Devils Tower if you are staying in the Black Hills, or as a stopover on the way out West.

Quote for the Day:  “You will enrich your life immeasurably if you approach it with a sense of wonder and discovery, and always challenge yourself to try new things.” – Nate Berkus

 

 

 

Getting ready to go

With just 3 more days left at Crazy Horse, we have been busy packing up our stuff, checking the roof for debris, putting Makena’s kennel back in the truck (she was very excited to see this) and inflating the tires.  Saturday (9/6) we had a huge crowd at work for the night blast to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Crazy Horse and the birth of Korczak, the sculpture of Crazy Horse Memorial.

Wednesday morning we will be leaving for Wisconsin, and if all goes well, we should arrive Thursday night at “Camp Meyer”, which is Makena’s favorite
“campground” (Dan’s sister and brother-in-law, Linda and Doug).  We will be parked there for 2 weeks, and then head down to Campbellsville, Kentucky, for another season at Amazon.  We have a start date of September 30.

We will not be online for a few days, as we will be returning the Wilson 3G cellular booster that Phil and Rudee have so graciously allowed us to use this summer.  Without it, we would not have had any cellular telephone service or internet at all.   We will be looking into purchasing a booster, but have been waiting as the 4G boosters are just coming on to the market.

I still have several more blog posts to do, and will try to get all caught up with South Dakota stuff before we leave for Kentucky.

Quote for the day:  “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”  – George A. Moore

4 other spelunking tours

The Black Hills area offers six different cave sites for your spelunking pleasure. We were fortunate to have enough time to visit all six. If you have limited time, we would recommend Wind Cave and Jewel Cave, both operated by the National Park Service. We have previously blogged on those caves. Now we will catch up on the other four.

Wonderland Cave

Of the four privately owned caves, we enjoyed Wonderland Cave the most. The cave is located near Nemo.

we found Nemo!!

we found Nemo!!

The cave was discovered in 1929 when two brothers were searching for their lost dog. They could hear the dog barking, and followed the sound into a hole and discovered the cave. The cave is on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and in the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps worked on exploring and mapping the cave, along with constructing the steps and paths in the cave. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Wonderland Cave

Wonderland Cave

The cave has only had two owners, which run the cave tours through a special use permit from the USFS. As such, the cave is fairly well-preserved. This cave is a “wet” cave, and has the only living Helictites formation in the area.

 

Helectite

Helictites

We have never seen this type of formation before. Helictites are found in limestone caves and are believed to have a capillary system. The formation starts out as a stalactite, but over time the growth may twist and turn, defying gravity. The one we saw was growing out and up. Our tour guide stated the dark spot was “the spine”.

stalactites, stalagmites and colums

stalactites, stalagmites and columns

The cave also has examples of Boxwork, dog tooth spar crystals, flowstone, and many stalagmites and stalactites, along with the columns that occur when they reach each other. We also saw an example of frost work, which can be seen in some of the other park service caves, but not on the basic tours. They do not have a light on it, to keep it preserved, but our tour guide did point it out with a flashlight. We did this tour at the end of August, as we were more “ho-hum” after seeing the other privately owned caves. This cave is certainly worth a visit (cost $14.50, and yes Madge, it was free with VIP pass). Our tour was about 90 minutes, but we are not sure if this is a typical length of time. There was a newspaper reporter with us, and the manager was giving the tour, so we felt we lucked into getting a more detailed tour. And it was just the four of us, which made for an even better experience.

 

Black Hills Caverns

The brochure for the Black Hills Caverns, discovered in 1882 by gold miners, and established as a tourist attraction in 1939, advertises itself as having the most complete formations of any cave in the Black Hills. However, we did not see any frost crystals or helictites on our tour (but they do have samples on display in their gift shop area).

 

here they are!

here they are!

Black Hills Caverns ($12.50 for adults, free with VIP pass) has very large rooms, a lot of flowstone, narrow passages and lots of stairs to go up and down. The tour lasts 60 minutes.

large rooms

large rooms

narrow passages on stairs

narrow passages on stairs

Flowstone "river"

Flowstone “river”

 

Rushmore Cave

 Rushmore Cave was discovered in 1876 when the Black Hills Mining Company was working nearby, and built a flume for their water on the hillside, for their mining operations. The flume leaked, but the water did not run down the hill, but disappeared into it. The miners went in search of the water, and discovered the entrance to the cave. It opened to the public in 1927, and was named Rushmore Cave during the time Mount Rushmore was under construction. In the 1950’s, under new ownership, tours were given 24 hours a day. The wear and tear from all the public visits is evident in this cave, as it has so many broken stalactites.

broken stalactites

broken stalactites

The cave has a lot of stairs to go up and down, amongst the smooth limestone walls.

smooth limestone walls

smooth limestone walls

The cave has now been turned into a bigger amusement type attraction, with the addition of the Soaring Eagle Zipline Ride and the Gunslinger 7-D interactive theater. The zipline is more of a chairlift that goes down the hill and back up again. The ride lasts 90 seconds.

Zip line chair

Zip line chair

 

The gunslinger attraction is more like something you would find at Disneyworld, as you sit in a chair with 3D glasses and shoot at the animation on the screen. We had fun doing this, but mainly it was because we were the only 2 people in the theater at the time (we did this in Mid-May, before the tourists arrived). The cost for all three activities (cave tour, zipline and Gunslinger Theater is $28.00, free with VIP pass). The cave tour itself is $12.00. The cave tour is the best of the three attractions.

Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns

Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns was the most disappointing of all the caves we have visited, as well as the most physically challenging of the cave tours. We would not recommend this tour. The cave was discovered in 1929 by a couple exploring the above ground cave on their property. It is believed that Sitting Bull camped in the above ground cave. Nearby is the entrance to the below ground cave. It is a very challenging, very steep descent to get down into the cave. And it is even more challenging to climb back up these same steep stairs when exiting the cave after a short 45 minute tour.

very steep stairs

very steep stairs

They do have a nice display of dog-spar crystals.

dog-spar crystals

dog-spar crystals

 

During the great flood of 1972 in Rapid City, this cave was flooded and the owners have not cleaned out the debris that remains. So there isn’t too much to see on this tour. Cost for adults is $12.00 (free with VIP pass). Our advice: save your money!

 

We enjoy visiting caves, and are looking forward to visiting Mammoth Cave in Kentucky this fall. So stay tuned for our review on that!

 

Quote for the day: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” – Joseph Campbell