Father and Son US Road Trip- 9 States, 12 National Parks, 2 Months, 6500 Miles!

Discussion in 'Global Trip Reports' started by TonyBKK, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. Father and Son Epic Summer Road Trip- 9 States, 12 National Parks, 2 Months, 6500 Miles!
    My head is still spinning a bit from the fantastic summer I just spent with my beloved son. He's only 5 and I wasn't sure we could pull it off, but it went better than I could have imagined. clap.gif

    I'd sought advice on many forums about how best to accomplish this trip and while I received a lot of good advice and constructive criticism, there were also a few folks who told me I was nuts to even consider such a journey with a five year old. So it was a big relief, but also a few tears when I dropped him off at his mom's house near Seattle undamaged and with enough stories to talk his mom's ears off.

    I flew from Bangkok to Seattle at the end of June to pick up my son. On approach to SEATAC-

    A happy reunion!

    Here we're waiting for Grandma Kitty to pick us up at the Minneapolis airport- I hadn't seen my son since I had him over the Christmas/New Year Holidays- my how he has grown! He's pretty tall for his age; most people think he's 6 or 7.

    From Seattle we flew to Minneapolis, MN to celebrate the 4th of July with his Grandma (my mom) and friends-

    My son was very excited about the trip and is at the age where he's starting to be able to figure out maps and remember where the states are-

    A little back story- I live in Thailand and my son was born here, but the marriage didn't work out and my Thai ex quickly found a new husband and meal ticket to the US. Breaks my heart to have my son so far away, but in my gut I have to admit that the US is probably a better place for him to grow up and receive an education. Don't get me wrong, Thailand is a fantastic place and I love it here, but it's a strange place to raise kids imho.

    My son has been riding with me in Thailand since he was quite small and we've had some great adventures, and while we've ridden some considerable distances together, it's never been for more than a long weekend, so this would be our first BIG trip together.


    For a trip of this distance and duration and for my son's safety and comfort I decided we'd need a big touring bike for this ride.

    At the age of 5 my son has a tendency to nod off and so I needed to choose a bike that had passenger amenities that would preclude the possibility of my boy falling off!

    While I've never owned and know very little about the big touring bikes I quickly zeroed in on the Goldwing GL1500 and found lots on Craigslist and Cycletrader that seemed like they'd fit the bill. I'd made arrangements to see a bunch in and around the Twin Cities, yet after days of wasting my time looking at bike after bike with issue after issue I widened my search parameters and wound up with this beauty-
    2005 BMW K1200LT icon10.gif

    Looks like just the thing for a long distance tour!

    First thing I needed to do was add some footpeg risers since pretty much every state on our itinerary had a statute requiring a pillion's feet to be on the pegs-
    Some PVC plumbing pipe and caps from the hardware store, some hardware, silicone sealant and a rattle can of paint that was a pretty close match to the bike and she's sorted. A good fit for the little guy and gives us a bit more storage space too!

    Next I added a seatbelt and shoulder harness as my son has always had a habit of falling asleep on or in any moving vehicle-
    Kind of hard to see in the pic above, but I picked up 2" webbing for the seatbelt and 1" webbing for the shoulder harness along with buckles and all the other parts at Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis- man I LOVE that store!!

    We delayed our departure by a few days on account of the heat wave that brought triple digit temperatures to much of the US over the 4th of July, but by the 6th a cold front had moved in and we were ready to hit the road!

    Huge thanks to my friends Jeremy and Stephanie for letting us use their home and garage as a staging area. Steph got some nice pics of us on our morning of departure-

    Bye bye Minneapolis!!


    To be continued!!!
  2. My plan for this trip was pretty flexible - I wanted to keep our days short, never more than 300 miles or 5 hours in the saddle. Goal for day one was to reach the Lake Vermillion Recreation Area that is just past Sioux Falls, SD-
    Trying to avoid interstate as much as possible on this ride, but to get across South Dakota we'll have to hit the I-90 at least until we reach the Badlands.

    What a beautiful day!! After so many months of planning it's feels so good to finally be on our way. I forgot how beautiful the midwest is in the summer.

    Feeling Minnesota naughty.gif


    Breakfast stop at McD's in Jordan, MN

    Yeah, I know it's not a terribly healthy choice, but my kid just loves the play areas and while he's off in the hamster cage I have a bit of time to check emails and play with Google Maps and upload some pictures.

    We've not the only bike on the road, but we're carrying the most luggage! mwink.gif

    Self portrait lol8.gif

    Random views from the road-

    I'm diggin the proliferation of wind farms-


    I90 West


    Lots of other bikes on the road. I'd guesstimate 90% Harleys, 9% Goldwings, 1% "other"



    On some of the forums I joined to plan for this ride people recommended I pull a trailer. I am SOOOO happy that I did not listen to that advice lol8.gif

    A little spot of rain. Certainly not enough to dampen our spirits!

    My co-pilot was all smiles icon10.gif

    Welcome to South Dakota!

    Thought about stopping at the Mitchell Corn Palace but decided to press on-

    Approaching Sioux Falls

    We made excellent time to Sioux Falls and found a nice camp site at Lake Vermillion Recreation Area in the early afternoon. Nice spot with a big lake, hot showers, a huge playground, and not very crowded- perfect!

    Let's go swimming!!


    Really nice playground at the Lake Vermillion site-

    Welcome to our home for the next ~7 weeks yelrotflmao.gif

    Day 1 complete! So far so good!
  3. What a great experience for a kid of that age. Lucky boy! The LT really was a great choice for that trip, I miss my 2000 now that I no longer have it. I know what you mean about pillion falling asleep on it, Marilyn used to all the time. Scared me!

    I discovered your trek too late, we live an hour North of Seattle and could have offered some hospitality (2 spare rooms) and maybe a day ride up to Mt. Baker etc. Did you ride over the State Route 20 (North Cascades Hwy)?
  4. Excellent Tony, this is for both of you an unforgettable trip.
  5. Wow what a lucky kid, I would have loved to go on such a big adventure when I was younger!

    Kudos to you Tony, Nice one :)
  6. Chock-full of wonderful emotion to produce a souvenir of exceptional travel but also a warming insight into the bond between father & son. Tremendous report, tremendous experience.
  7. Wow- I must have ridden past your place a few times! We stayed for a few days with Dave (not quite sure he's a member here?) who lives up in Bellingham and rides a VFR800 in the US and a BMW F800GS in Thailand and the day I had to drop off my son we blasted up the fantastic Mt Baker road. Plenty of pics to come! It looks like I might be keeping the LT, so I'll certainly drop you a line next time I'm in Washington!
  8. Back in the day I used to be a hiking and camping fiend, but I must confess that it's been years since I've cooked on a camp stove. My organizational skills obviously need work, but hey, we've got the whole summer for me to get my act together ;)

    One of the things that is so much fun about a 5 year old is that almost everything is new, and you get to re-experience the joy and wonder of discovery through their eyes. Take Spaghettios for example- my son's new favorite food yelrotflmao.gif
    They didn't have Alphabet Spagettios when I was a kid! I was (am) a bit shocked at how poor my son's reading and writing has become since he moved to the US. In Thailand I sent him to a good bilingual pre-school and he had his roman alphabet and Thai characters down pat and could write his name quite legibly. Since moving to the US he's just languished in day care, where they do arts and crafts but no reading and writing and for some reason his mom has stopped speaking to him in Thai... What a waste. Growing up bilingual would be such a plus! OK, rant over mwink.gif


    I hope you will note that I do do my best to try and provide the little guy with a fairly healthy diet despite the occasional McD or can of Spagettios. That said, when you're traveling on the road the temptation to hit a fast food joint if often hard to resist.

    Of course we must celebrate our first night under the stars with a proper desert- S'Mores baby! clap.gif

    Watch out little guy- that's a hot fire!

    It's a trip how late it stays light in the midwest in July. I think we were cooking smores over the fire around 8pm and the sun doesn't set until after 9!

    I told Kristhawee that this was his opportunity to practice clean eating before we get into bear country...

    Well, it's a work in progress ;)

    This kid sure can eat! He had a big dinner yet still managed to put away 4 smores without even getting sick puke2.gif

    I must confess that I matched him smore for smore (I'm not sure I could even find marshmallows and graham crackers here in Thailand...) naughty.gif

    Is this smore #4?!

    Dang, posting these pics is making me hungry!! mwink.gif

    Our leftovers are safely guarded ;)

    Good night my prince. Sweet dreams! Our adventure has only just begun!!
  9. Really nice story! Glad you had such a good time & look forward to more photos. I'm very impressed with the seat belt/harness you designed.
  10. Good morning! Day 2 of our father and son epic ride begins!

    Get your pants on quick- I'm dangerous with a camera and this could come back to haunt you when you're a teenager ;)

    Breakfast is served naughty.gif
    Cheddar scrambled eggs, baby carrots and Kristhawee snuck a marshmallow too >.<

    Today's destination: Badlands National Park!

    The theme of today's ride is "ROAD SIGNS"! (Because if you've ever traveled through Eastern South Dakota on the I-90 you know that there is pretty much NOTHING else to see...) lol8.gif

    Wall Drug is an institution! For someone who's never been there it's quite difficult to explain just what the heck all the fuss is about, but since it's beginning as a small drugstore in the tiny town of Wall in 1931 it's grown into what the New York Times describes as, "a sprawling tourist attraction of international renown [that] takes in more than $10 million a year and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town"."

    I later read that Wall Drug spends close to to half a million dollars a year on their infamous billboards which are located around the world but become more and more common the closer you get to the town of Wall.

    Badlands National Park only has one campground, and it's a bit miserable, no trees, no shade, close to the road and very exposed. I was told that the nearby KOA in White River is just 4 miles from the park, infinitely more pleasant and sports trees, grass, WiFi, a playground and even a pool. Yeah, that's the ticket!

    Wall Drug!
    What 5 year old boy isn't in to dinosaurs? This billboard certainly piqued my son's interest.

    Harvey Dunn? Had to look that one up- a famous painter from South Dakota apparently...

    Well, I don't know if I'd go so far as to call a visit to Wall Drug "Priceless", but it did sum up quite well my feelings about spending the entire summer with my son. I feel so very fortunate that I could take the time off from work and take him on this adventure. The memories and the experience are absolutely priceless!

    Kristhawee kept asking when would we see a real cowboy. I promised him it wouldn't be long.

    The exciting view as you head west on the I-90. Zzzzzz... Have never ridden a bike with cruise control before. Have to say, that for stretches like this, it does come in handy.

    You know, at the beginning of our trip it felt like we had all the time in the world, but in the end, as is so often the case, the time went by far too quickly. After a summer on the road it feels quite strange to be back home and not moving. I never wanted our trip to end, and I'm pretty sure my son felt the same way. We would have liked to have just kept going and going and going. He'll start Kindergarden next week but I have no doubt that he learned more and grew more as a person during our nearly 2 months on the road than he might from an entire year of Kindergarden. Well, rather than lament the adventure that is over, I try to look forward to the next one. He's made it quite clear that next summer he really wants to come back to Thailand- just imagine all the fun and adventures we'll enjoy then!


    Other businesses have tried to imitate Wall Drug's advertising style too-

    I guess imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery?

    Oh, I should mention, I've got a strange fascination for old derelict buildings, especially barns, so you'll be seeing quite a few in this report... mwink.gif

    This smelled like a bit of a tourist trap, and anyway we're on a bike so it's out of the question, but my son was excited to see his first "bear"... lol8.gif







    My son and I had intercoms in our helmets so we could chat and listen to music and we quickly started a game where whoever would see something "different" would shout it out. So it would be something like "BARN!" or "COW!" or in this case---

    A silly funny game that we played all summer long lol8.gif

  11. Woohoo! We're getting closer! Only 126 more miles to the Badlands!

    Crossing the Missouri River- a welcome change of scenery!



    My son is doing great!

    Am I going overboard with the Wall Drug signs? eek7.gif



    The Wall Drug billboards just keep coming

    Quite beautiful these big open spaces- especially since it was a wet spring so everything is still green-

    Not too far past the Misouri River we stopped at the 1880 Town for lunch in their 50's Train Diner-

    A bit windy-

    My son is way into trains so he was all over this place! This 1950's Santa Fe Train originally ran from Chicago to California before coming to rest at the 1880 Town. They had pretty decent grub and the train cars were full of old train memorabilia.

    Chili Dog for dad

    Grilled Cheese for my little guy-

    450 miles and Kristhawee is starting to look like a real biker (or did he pick up the tan from swimming and fishing at the lake yesterday?)

    His first taste of Mellow Yellow, you might not guess it from the pic, but he loves this stuff 1drink.gif

    Father and son-

    Exploring the train-

    Ready to roll!

    "Wallways in Season"?! Too much! puke2.gif

    Wall Drug's 5 cent coffee is no joke- it really exists, and when your camping and surviving on instant coffee it's really not all that bad! icon10.gif

    Wall Drug- Since 1931!


    Do Lunch Or Be Lunch!

    Lots of other bikes out on the interstate- mostly Harleys



    Got a chuckle out of this one: "Help manage your wildlife, WEAR FUR" yelrotflmao.gif


    Getting closer!


    Buffalo Gap National Grassland

    Here's our exit!

    Badlands, then Wall Drug. Sounds good to me icon10.gif


    Woohoo! We made it! Welcome to the Badlands National Park!

    My little guy has certainly never seen anything like this before!


  12. Great Stuff Tony, Keep it coming! Very inspirational for Me and gives Me something to Plan for! Great that You caught up with Dave as well! Congratulations on a Trip of a Lifetime with your Son!
  13. Great report Tony. Love the pic of your son on the back of the bike with the goggles on.. you can tell he is really enjoying it.
  14. We made good time and it's still early afternoon and I'm keen to get to the campground and unload our stuff and then return to the park in the evening when the colors really pop, so we just snap a few more pics, drink some water, then jump back on the bike-


    We were pretty lucky to hit the Badlands between heat waves. It can be crazy-hot there during the summer months.


    Random pics taken as we ride the "short way" through the Badlands on our way to the White River KOA via the tiny little town of Interior-


    Middle of the day the colors tend to be a bit washed out which is why I was keen to set up camp and return in the late afternoon.

    Sometimes my Canon Powershot D10 surprises me though and does get the colors- I just set it on auto and let her rip-


    I learned on this trip that KOA's come in many different flavors and it pays to do a bit of research. Some cater almost exclusively to the RV crowd and are quite dreadful, others are much more tent friendly. The White River KOA falls in the later category icon10.gif


    As advertised- lots of trees, green grass, a nice cold pool, playground, slow as molasses WiFi (common to all KOA's I've learned), etc.

    Ok, another quick rant- why can't my kid swim anymore?! He was a water baby from the age of 2 months and was swimming and surfing back in Thailand. WTF happened?!

    From catching waves in Thailand at age 4-

    To floundering in the deep end at age 5-

    So I quiz the little guy about why he can't swim anymore and he tells me that, "There are no swimming pools in New York". (He only just recently moved to Washington and was in NY prior) eekers.gif

    Who told you that nonsense??

    "Mom" eek7.gif

    Grrrr, ok, rant over. Our goal this summer is to get you swimming again!! naughty.gif

    I thought swimming was like riding a bicycle... Apparently not... C'mon Kristhawee- you can do it!

    Even though he can't really swim anymore, he still loves the water!
  15. Some pictures of the White Horse KOA's old skool playground-

    My boy LOVES to swing clap.gif


    Our menu for this evening- not exactly haute cuisine, but then I can't cook worth a damn and what kid doesn't love hot dogs? And he has no idea what a Jiffy Pop is- this should be fun! naughty.gif

    A couple more pics of our camp site- not too shabby for a KOA naughty.gif


    The sun still doesn't set until around 9pm so after dinner we jump on the bike and head back to the Badlands to check out the evening colors-

    Beware Rattlesnakes! eekers.gif (So of course, my son decides he REALLY wants to see one...)

    Sunrise and sunset seem to be the best time to admire the badlands-

    I took Kristhawee to the Fossil Loop Trail- it's short and easy and the ride there is spectacular.

    Seems he's more the off-road type ;)

    Did my best to scout around and make sure there were no snakes!

    Easy to forget you're on planet earth here

    King of the World! clap.gif

    Forced him to sit still for a couple father-son pics


    What a great kid!

    Getting grubby like only a 5 year old can mwink.gif

    After walking the Fossil Trail my son had it in his head that he would go find some fossils. I told him it's not really that easy, but he wanted to try all the same. Go for it!

    Still King of the World!

    Sun is sinking lower. Can you spot my kid?

    Sun has set behind these hills-

    Still looking for fossils naughty.gif

    Found any yet??


    Points for effort!!

    Sun still shining on some hills to the south of us-

    Amazing views and hardly anyone around-


    Our mighty steed looks pretty good in this light-

    Time to head back to our campground and call it a night. Tomorrow we ride to the Black Hills! clap.gif
  16. This is a terrific story Tony. What a dad, good on ya! I recon many bikers on this forum would have jumped at a ride like that if only they had a Dad who would have let them get on a bike in the first place! Keep it coming. Its got to be inspirational for parents.
  17. Unbelievable & bloody amazing. Congratulations Tony the super Dad. This will be one trip neither of you will ever forget. Fantastic.
  18. Yes, definitely PM next time you plan to be over here. We live in Mount Vernon but have friends in Bellingham and get up there often. Hopefully Dave took you to Boundary Bay and Kulshan brewpubs. Really world class IPA's if they are your thing. Especially the Imperial IPA at BB and the Double IPA at Kulshan. Hop madness but smoooooth! Always on our must-stop list after a day in the saddle. So many fantastic rides/loops/scenery up here. Oyster run coming in a few weeks. Try to make it for that sometime. http://www.oysterrun.org/
  19. Day Three- Badlands National Park to the Black Hills via Wall Drug

    Good morning Kristhawee! Nice bed head you've got going there! yelrotflmao.gif

    I hear they serve pretty decent grub at Wall Drug- let's ride there for breakfast. Plenty of billboards to make sure we don't miss it ;)



    5 cent coffee... Hmmm, will have to check that out...

    Welcome to Wall Drug!!

    I hadn't been there since I was a kid, and it's still just as weird and wonderful as I remember it. I'm not sure my son knows what to make of it- He wasn't too keen to pose with the creepy cowboy in the pink shirt and kept his distance ;)

    He warmed up to the old grandpa cowboy though ;)

    My little guy waiting in line to place his order-

    Breakfast is served!! Pancakes, bacon, eggs, and of course a famous Wall Drug Donut lol8.gif

    This kid can EAT!!!

    Kristhawee is trying to copy the expression of the gunslinger with the shot glass naughty.gif

    Posing with the rare and elusive North American Jackalope- he looked everywhere this summer but never saw a real one... yelrotflmao.gif

    At least he got to ride one at Wall Drug ;)

    Then we hear a loud roar coming from the very back of the place... What could it be?!

    A seriously creepy T-Rex!! Do you think it's real Kristhawee?? mwink.gif

    He was pretty convinced that it was NOT real, yet wouldn't get close to it. It's got sensors or something so that if you do get close to it, its eyes and head follow you... Like I said, pretty creepy eekers.gif

    Plus, every 15 minutes or so it "wakes up" to feed and makes like it's going to jump over the wall and get you. A must see for every dinosaur loving kid! (Video to come)

    We must have spent another hour or more wandering around Wall Drug- there's just so much to see! Finally escaped without buying any of the tourist crap (benefit or touring on a bike- you just tell you kid "sorry, no room").

    Did get the complimentary Wall Drug bumper sticker though for the bike lol8.gif

    Time to saddle up and hit the road- Here he's talking to his mom-

    Don't worry, the helmet goes on before we roll. ATGATT for my son!!

    Next stop- Black Hills and Mount Rushmore!!!

    What a beautiful day for a ride!!! Mount Rushmore exit coming up-



    The first of many cool tunnels in the Black Hills- this one was just south of Keystone I think-

    Welcome to Keystone, SD! Lots and lots of bikes in the Black Hills. (Can you spot our LT parked in between the Harleys and Goldwing?)

    To be continued!
  20. Keystone was pretty touristy, but also a fun place for people watching.

    Spotted our first "real" cowboys ;)
    This freakishly tall fellow was walking down the street cracking his bullwhip and there was another "cowboy" a little out of camera range who was shooting his pistols into the air. Of course my son didn't know, and I felt no need to tell him that they are actors promoting a show. He was pretty impressed by them naughty.gif

    It was getting pretty close to lunch time so after wandering around the town for a bit we hit up a deli on the main strip and enjoyed a small meal and a huge ice cream cone as we took in the sights-

    Cotton Candy ice cream, and guess what, it really tastes like Cotton Candy, though I'm not quite sure if that's a good thing or not ;)

    Great spot to relax and watch life go by-

    Some amazing roads and so much to see and do in the Black Hills that we ended up staying there longer than planned. After the good experience at the White River KOA near Badlands National Park I was game to try another KOA so we rolled in to the Hill City KOA which is just around the corner from Mount Rushmore National Monument.

    Our spot-

    I always had a notion in my head that KOA's are pretty much exclusively aimed at the RV crowd. Turns out some of them are, but some are really tent-friendly too.

    Always feels good to get the boots off, and Kristhawee was eager to hit one of the pools we saw on the way in-

    The other nice thing about KOA's is that they are always full of kids, and my son, who is normally a bit shy, became very adept at making new friends everywhere we went. He'd just walk up to the first kid he saw and say "Hi, can I play with you?". Good on ya Kristhawee! Here he is hanging out with one of his new friends-

    Funny story about the pic above- this huge rock was directly across the road from where we were camping. After we pulled in and while I was setting up camp Kristhawee asks me, "Daddy, what kind of tree is that?". I look around and see a lot of pine trees, so I tell him "Pine Trees". He says, "no, the BIG one?". We went back and forth like that for a while and he was getting frustrated until I realized that he thought the rock was a tree! Guess he'd never seen a rock so big before? That had me rolling and I took him over there to show him that it was a rock and not a tree and we had a good time scrambling around his big "tree". 5 year olds sure do come up with some funny stuff sometimes!

    Hanging out with another friend at the KOA :) Love their expressions :shifty:

    What an amazing place- they put us in a really beautiful "tent only" spot at the end of a dirt road in a nice forest with big trees-

    Bit of a hike to the pool- but there's nothing wrong with that. Hey! Wait for me!!

    We were far away from the RV's and all the noise they produce and this place had EVERYTHING. Two pools, hot tubs, water slide, trout pond, paddle boats, horseback riding, a splash park, mini golf, and a lot more. The nice lady who checked us in said it's one of the largest KOA's in the US. Yet they've done a really good job of making it "feel" small.



    "Jump Pillow" (I guess it's safer than a trampoline, but just barely) ;)

    Kristhawee loved the horses and stables and REALLY wanted to ride, but the minimum age is 7... He's never ridden and I didn't want to risk him falling off and getting hurt so I had to tell him no.


    Near the stables was a decent little food shack serving your typical fare and we ordered ourselves a pizza for dinner- yum!

    You might think that would be enough for one day and that we'd call it a night? You'd be wrong!

    They were showing "The Tigger Movie" that evening and Kristhawee was keen to go check it out. The "movie theater" was attached to the campground store so Kristhawee enjoyed checking out the toys before the movie started-
    Sorry buddy, that will never fit on the motorcycle :lol:

    Man the sun stays up late! After the movie there was a live band playing so we stopped and checked them out- The Hill City Slickers was there name, and they were damn funny and pretty good too!


    Finally we made it back to our site, got ready for bed, and I think I wasn't more than 2 pages into the Jungle Book before my little guy was sound asleep.

    I wasn't far behind him! (-_-)Zzzzzz
  21. Good morning! Day 4 begins!

    I have discovered that my son is not much of a morning person naughty.gif


    First stop- all you can eat pancake breakfast!!

    Little guy wanted milk so I gave him some money and told him to go buy it. He wanted me to get it for him- you can tell he's not too happy about that, but that's part of growing up!

    Still making friends everywhere he goes

    After breakfast we went on an impromptu hike around the grounds of the campground-


    Another beautiful day!

    Looking over the campground- Mt Rushmore is just on the other side of those mountains-



    Then Kristhawee went to check out the "Splash Park" which he most definitely enjoyed-



    He could have spent all day playing at the campground!

    Found a bug!

    And a snake (anyone know what kind of snake that is??)

    Finally we managed to get back to our site, jumped on the bike, and headed to Hill City where we would catch the historic 1880 steam train to Keystone!
  22. Short ride to Hill City- funky little mining and lumber town, now a tourist destination with galleries, restaurants and of course the 1880 Steam Train.

    My son LOVES trains! Model trains, toy trains, real trains, movies about trains you name it, he digs it, so I thought he might enjoy a ride on the Black Hills Central Central Railroad 1880 Steam Train.


    C'mon PUSH!!!


    The 1880 Steam Train is the real deal- a restored coal fired (converted to oil) locomotive with 37,500 lbs. of tractive power! It takes around 3 hours to make the round trip on the standard gauge Burlington track from Hill City to Keystone and back-

    Got our tickets-

    While we were waiting we could hear the train whistle off in the distance. Kristhawee was so excited!!

    All aboard!!

    Let's go!!

    Father and Son on the Black Hills Central Railroad 1880 Train :mrgreen:
  23. Hi Tony,

    Great photos as usual, Thanks for sharing!

    The snake you have there in your previous post is a Garter Snake of some type. My guess would be the Wandering Garter Snake, Thamnophis Elegans Vagrans.

  24. Hahaha! Just a Garter snake? It looked a bit vicious and pretty long for a garter snake so I had my son stay away from it. Silly me, I used to chase and collect garter snakes when I was a kid. Since moving to Thailand and finding Cobras in the yard I've become a bit wary of snakes... ;-)
  25. And we're off! Leaving Hill City bound for Keystone on the Black Hills Central Railroad 1880 Steam Train-
    We were in the car directly behind the locomotive and it made an insane racket and the whistle was deafening eekers.gif

    I liked the "No Smoking" announcement- something about, if you need a smoke, just stick your head out the window and inhale deeply yelrotflmao.gif

    There was a big mining and timber boom here in the late 1800's and early 1900's and you can see a lot of old buildings, mines and abandoned rail spurs along the way-

    Entrance to an old mine?

    Lots of wildlife too!

    The train has to climb a couple of steep 4-6% grades and it was awesome to listen to it puffing and chugging up the incline-


    Interesting old buildings along the way, some occupied, some abandoned-




    We pas a lot of old abandoned spurs- would be really fun to hike these to the mines they used to serve-


    The "Lazy 2 Crazy 2 ranch" lol8.gif

    Chugging up another incline-

    Guess the pancakes, hike, splash park and rocking of the train took their toll on my little guy

    I kept snapping pictures so he could see what he missed while in dreamland ;)


    We crossed the "Old Hill City Highway" several times- a nice looking road that we'll ride later-

    More deer-

    Oh yes, we will definitely have to hit this road!

    Approaching the Keystone depot-

    Kristhawee is still passed out, so we just stay on the train waiting for the ride back to Hill City-

    Getting ready for the return trip to Hill City-

    At Keystone they uncouple the locomotive and move it to the other end of the train. Means we get a lot less noise, and a lot more smoke for the return trip ;)

    Gotta love the staff!

    Headed back to Hill City-

    Random pics from the train-


    Another abandoned mine-

    Another abandoned home-

    Almost back to Hill City-

    Arriving at the Hill City depot-

    He hang around to watch them uncouple and move the locomotive-

    Wow, that looks like hot and dirty work!

    Bye bye 1880 Train!

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