Tuesday, July 3
High on my list of things to see in this part of South Dakota is the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. I’ve loved horses since childhood and although my life’s path never included any horses, I still consider them one of the most exquisite forms on the planet. I go to the Sanctuary’s website and read every word, marvel at every horse photo, and become entranced by the slideshow. I can hardly wait to see the wild horses!
I call the Sanctuary.
My plan is for the crew and me to camp in their small RV campground with full hook-ups for one night ($20). The next morning Bridget and Spike will stay inside the air-conditioned BLT, while I take the two-hour bus tour ($50). This will be so much fun!
The lady at the Sanctuary politely gives me the bad news. “We aren’t accepting any more campers at this time. We don’t want too many people here with the forest fires nearby.”
I tell her I understand and put the phone down.
Oh, rats! This is so disappointing. I really want to see the wild horses. They even have Spanish mustangs. Darn! It would’ve been a highlight of my visit to the Black Hills. Oh well . . .
Wednesday, July 4
The crew and I are on our way to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary! At least I’ll get to see the Sanctuary and probably some horses in corrals. Maybe I’ll be lucky and see a herd of wild horses roaming within view of the road, somewhere on the 11,000 acres. At the very least it’s a nice ride through more South Dakota landscape.
On the way we approach a road sign announcing “Cascade Falls.”
I notice a small park with several cars in the parking lot, but no people. Where is everybody? As I pull into the lot, a family climbs out of their car. Hey, they’re wearing bathing suits! This looks interesting.
Bridget and Spike are happy to be let out of the PTV for another adventure. We cross a grassy area to a sign warning us of poison ivy and rattlesnakes. Past the sign several steps lead down to a small river! “Oh, Spike, you’re gonna’ love this! C’mon, let’s go!”
The water is cascading over rocks.
Spike is the first in. I’m right behind him and then Bridget joins us, too. It’s Independence Day so working people are here enjoying the holiday. Most are parents with young children and babies. Spike and Bridget meet another terrier who also loves the water. Bridget is in fine form, marching around me on her leash. The water is a delight for all of us. When we leave, Bridget jumps around proudly. Once up the steps, I let her off-leash and she sprints at top-speed to the PTV. What a cutie she is today! I think she enjoyed that as much as Spikey!
Not much further and we reach the entrance to the Sanctuary.
A gravel road slices through huge grassland and rolling hills. I scan the landscape in all directions, hoping for a glimpse. I see them! Oh, wow, there they are! A small herd of horses is grazing at the crest of a hill. I take some photos. We pass a one-room schoolhouse complete with outhouse. There’s another herd! This group is much larger and further away from the road. I do the best I can zooming in on them for photos. Then I sit in the PTV watching them. It’s so peaceful here.
I park the PTV in the lot next to the gift shop.
Inside I buy a cap embroidered with Black Hills Horse Sanctuary ($14). The lady at the counter tells me I can go back to the corral area to see some horses there. The crew is okay in the PTV. It’s a breezy day, cooler than usual, so I take my time browsing the shop and taking photos of the grounds, including horses, chickens, and a white pigeon that looks like a white peacock to me.
On the way out of the Sanctuary I spot the Spanish mustangs!
I recognize them from the photos on the website. Such beautiful animals . . . .
Gee, what a wonderful day this has been! I’m so glad I didn’t give up and came here anyway.[slideshow]
P.S. I hope you’ll take the time to visit the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary website. You’ll enjoy the rescue stories and the stunning photography. http://www.gwtc.net/~iram/