Custer State Park Working Adventure: Buffalo Roundup 2018

IMG_7718 (2)

We worked our first buffalo roundup at Custer State Park. I’ve never been that close to a cow in my life, let alone buffalo! It was fun and exhilarating to say the least, especially that moment when I found myself eye to eye with a buffalo calf who wasn’t happy about being corralled, pushed through gates, and separated from mamma for the time.

[I’m working on including some video into our blog. We have created a YouTube Channel (NoKaOiLog) and I’ll be including some links. It’s a learning curve with a slippery slope, hope no one falls in with me, lol.]

This is how they move the buffalo into the work area, where they get (depending on age), inoculations for brucellosis and other diseases, branding and tagging, pregnancy tests and sterility checks. Also decisions about whether they return to the herd or head out to auction.

In the Chute video

The Custer State Park Roundup is a multi-day event. It draws over 20k visitors, although this year the numbers were only around 16k, probably because of the rain and snow which came in early that morning. Roundup festivities also include an awesome arts festival from Thursday to Saturday, with talented vendors, good food, and plenty of entertainment.

The day of the roundup the entrance fee into the park is waved, so it’s the perfect day to get up early, watch the roundup, catch a little buffalo branding at the corrals and then head over to the arts festival to fill your truck up with lots of cool stuff to take home with you!

The other way to get in for free is to be a park volunteer. But before you get too excited about this option, we had to meet at 3:45 A.M. to caravan out to the roundup area and be in place at our assigned positions. Russ and I both had parking duties. It was still snowing when we arrived, brrr from the Florida girl! I went through two pair of boots and countless socks, because my first ones, even with waterproofing, didn’t hold up to the wet slosh. Fortunately, the sun came up, the clouds passed on, and the ground dried up … well, the mud didn’t dry up for a couple of days.

The snow melted away pretty quick down where we were parking cars, but it stuck around a bit longer in the higher elevations.

Snow in the hills. Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Snow sure is pretty in photos, but I was cold. Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Picturesque morning for Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

After all the cars were parked, we were free to find a great viewing location and wait for the Buffalo to come over the hills.

Fog and cold for the first glimpse of the buffalo. Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Here is a link to our YouTube video of the herd coming over the hills.

Buffalo coming over the hill video

Gathering into one large herd. Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

This wasn’t exactly like Dances with Wolves, it was an orchestrated plan to get the buffalo to the corrals without stressing them out so bad that they hurt themselves or each other. So built into the round up are several resting/holding periods, which made for a great time to view the herd.

On the day of the roundup, they work a small portion of the herd so that those attending the roundup who wish to watch can see the how they bring the buffalo into the corrals for health checks and branding.  That many buffalo can’t be done in one day and this year there were three additional days set up (I believe it varies from year to year). We both worked one morning. Here are a couple of videos of our branding experience.

Russ branding

Jen branding #1

Jen branding #2

Branded. The 8 is for the year and the S is for Custer State Park

Blue ear tag, male heading to the auction

These gals made it back to the herd

We were amazed at how well the whole process was handled. We loved every minute of the hard work and long days (well I lie … I don’t like snow and wet feet, and Russ doesn’t like to get up that early), but it was worth it for the experience. We would highly recommend you add the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup to your bucket list.

Stay tuned, there’s a few more blogs from Custer State Park to share with you, thanks for following along with our adventure.

Custer State Park Working Adventure: Sturgis or Bust


Well let me just start out by saying, that I said a lot about not needing to ever go to Sturgis, but…I talk a lot…I say things that get changed…awe heck…I guess I lied! Because after we did a pre-Sturgis ride, we had to come back and see what it was really like during the rally.

Here are some pics from the roads and byways. We did many rides from Custer State Park to all the best spots in the Black Hills. Hill City, Deadwood, Newcastle, Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, and of course Sturgis. The roads and riding here are awesome.

The cool thing about the Sturgis rally is all the nearby towns which get caught up in the action, and all the riding that needs to be done to get to each one. So although almost 506,000 bikes showed up for the rally, they were nicely spread out as they explored the area.

That said, here is downtown Custer during the rally.

The roads in the State park filled up too, this is the entrance to Needles Highway. The park sold over 300,000 bike bands during rally week.

We really like Deadwood, it’s a real town of the old west, and apparently they numbered their saloons! We had lunch, an awesome lunch, at the Eagle Bar. I think their seating is a bit questionable however, lol.

We will definitely make some more trips back to Deadwood to explore the history. But for this blog…it’s on to Sturgis!


Sturgis a few days before the rally began.


And then…boom…a hundred thousand bikes and bikers.

Some of our favorite bikes we saw around town.

(Hey there’s someone else from Florida here!)

And out about there were lots of group rides.

In the end…we were a bit worn out.

But is was worth it, the Black Hills and Sturgis has to be some of the best riding we have been able to do.

We appreciate you taking the time to share our adventure with us.

Custer State Park Working Adventure: Being Tourists with Friends and Family

We love when family and friends come to visit us on our adventures. It not only helps with our homesickness but also gives us a great excuse to become tourists, or travel guides, as the case may be.

Lee and Lynda came through the Black Hills on the way home from their trip out west. We made a whirlwind day of adventure looking for buffalo and wildlife, and checking into Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore. There was lunch at the Purple Pie somewhere in between too.


Crazy Horse with Lee and Lynda

State Flags at Mt. Rushmore

Lee and Lynda at Mt. Rushmore

Lee, Lynda, Jennifer and Russ. Mt. Rushmore

Our drive took us through Wind Cave National Park, where we saw buffalo and prairie dogs.

Buffalo in Wind Cave National Park


Buffalo in Wind Cave National Park


Prairie Dog. Wind Cave National Park


Prairie dogs. Wind Cave National Park

Our animal sightings in Custer State Park included pronghorn deer, donkeys and water buffalo (haha, just kidding…it was really buffalo in water)!

I haven’t heard his name yet, but the small herd of burros has an addition. Custer State Park


Triplet pronghorns. Custer State Park


Water Buffalo. Custer State Park

The following week, our son Josiah took a few days in between tour dates to come and visit us. This mamma can never spend enough times with her babies and we had a great time doing a little sight-seeing and some hiking.

Hey…I didn’t get a copy of the pic you took…

It’s what he does.


These two! What are they into now?


Over there. Where?


The only time we gets pics together (with both our heads in the shot) is when Josiah is in town.


Exploring Wind Cave National Park


The truck straddling French Creek in Wind Cave National Park.

We had bison at the Bugglin’ Buffalo.

Did the touristy stuff at Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore. (I have no pictorial proof of Crazy Horse for some reason!)

Hi George. Mt. Rushmore


These two! If you’ve ever wondered why I have gray hair…its definitely one of these two.


My boys.


Mt. Rushmore National Monument

I made him go hiking. Told him he had to get off the electronics and get fresh air. Just kidding…but grateful to have kids who love the same things we do.

We hiked to Little Devil’s Tower in Custer State Park. The views are spectacular and the hike isn’t half bad either.








He actually doesn’t care for being this high up. Thanks for hanging out with us!




What’s for lunch mom? Still PB&J son.

Best cell service in town. Hi Sami…we missed having you!

Only one of the three of us wanted to swim after our hike. Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park is beautiful, but it’s too cold for this Floridian.

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park.

The cool breeze coming off the lake is nice too! Sylvan Lake

And just like that the friends and family left us to our adventure. Everyone is welcome to join us, we miss you all! Thanks for sharing our adventure with us.

Custer State Park The Working Adventure: Baby Animals

I’m having a difficult time picking just the right pic for the feature photo. As you will see there is an abundance of cuteness in this blog post of the babies we have seen in the past few weeks. So enjoy!

Buffalo calf. Custer State Park.

Since I’m at Custer State Park, and one of the main animals many come to see here are buffalo, I’ve chosen one of the baby buffalo as my feature pic. There are over 350 calfs in the park this season. They start out cinnamon color (above) and darken up over their first year. If you zoom in you can even see the start of the horns. One of the things I keep encountering here are people who think its cool to get out of their vehicles to get a closer view. Definitely not a good idea. Buffalo can run at 30 mph. Last time I checked…I’m not outrunning that on foot.

Older Buffalo calf. Custer State Park

Babies in the herd. Custer State Park

Along Highway 16A, we spotted the mountain goats. This mamma had twins.


Mountain goat kid. Custer State Park

IMG_8202 (2)

It’s better…they are mountain goat twins! Custer State Park

There are plenty of nicknames for the parks small herd of burros, the most common is begging burros. But I could beg to take this little guy home. He’s no bigger than a large dog, and he is definitely cuteness on over-load. I’m calling him Buddy Burro.


I haven’t heard his name yet, but the small herd of burros has an addition. (I’m calling him Buddy Burro.) Custer State Park


Foal “Buddy Burro.” Custer State Park

“Buddy Burro.” Custer State Park

The Pronghorn are busy too. This mama has triplets!

Mama Pronghorn with triplets. Custer State Park

Triplet pronghorn fawns. Custer State Park

There are no shortage of white tail deer here. The fawns are just mesmerizing to watch. They hop about and jump with no restraint as they enjoy the day.

Mama Deer and her fawns. Custer State Park

This shot cracks me up. Fawn #1 is poised and ready to follow mamas lead. Fawn #2, not so much.

Every family has the obedient child…and the other child. Custer State Park

And with a little sibling scolding…they were off.

Come on brother…time to move. Custer State Park

What a beautiful treat to see the babies in the park. Living proof that life goes on and the promise of newness. Thanks for taking the time to share our adventure. We will be back with more from Custer State Park soon.

Custer State Park the Working Adventure: Life Around Camp

We are beyond happy with our decision to come all the way to Custer State Park in South Dakota! This place is awesome…and the work we are trading for our campsite isn’t too bad either.

We signed up as volunteers at Custer State Park. Russ has been assigned to the Ground Maintenance team and is doing more than he was originally told he would be doing. And has a work truck…and…HE GETS TO CUT GRASS TOO! Yes, he is that excited.

I survived my first week of visitor center training (there are four of them here), it was like standing in front of a fire hydrant. But I’ve already met people from all over the world, and it helps me get my two thousand plus words a day out!

One of four visitor centers, Badger Hole is by far my favorite places. Badger Clark was the first Poet Laureate of South Dakota and wrote the Cowboy Prayer. Custer State Park

We arrived later in the day on June 29th. Setting up was going uneventful when several of our neighbors started talking about an in-coming storm. Several moved their vehicles across the road under the trees. The sky darkened up. Hail was mentioned, and just as we buttoned up the last few things…it let loose. Welcome to South Dakota, home of the bi-weekly hail storm.

But the hail can be overlooked when the view is in your backyard. Here’s just a few of our initial greeters.

That’s a big boy. Buffalo in the campsite. Custer State Park


Little man, you still have fuzz on those antlers. Custer State Park


Little Buck. Custer State Park


“I’m sure there will be something good if I get closer.” Custer State Park

This is the view looking down into our camping area.

Home sweet home for the summer and fall!


Our fire pit has a view up the hill. Custer State Park


We have many birds, this little American Goldfinch stopped by to rest on a rock in the yard. Custer State Park

Just behind our camp site and up the hill, is one of the many hiking trails in Custer. Lover’s Leap is a 3 mile loop and if you don’t confuse the trail marking “ahem, Jennifer” its a fun trail which crosses over the creek about a dozen times and has a scenic view of the park and beyond, from the peak.

Early morning dew. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Dragonfly. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Dragonfly fun. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Taking a break from the cold creek. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park

There was a fire in the park last December, about half the park was effected. But, everything is greener and making a come back.

Remnants of 2017 December fire. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Fire damage. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Everything is coming back strong. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Ruger is new to hiking. Not sure if he knew he was stepping in mud or not, but he sunk down pretty deep and needed a creek clean up. #muddydog. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


You can lead a dog to water… Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Almost a dozen creek crossings. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


A little trail break. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


The view from the top. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


view from the top. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Afternoon storm approaching. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park

There is more to come from our Custer State Park, can’t wait to share all the baby animals we’ve seen so far. Thanks for sharing our adventure with us.

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Custer State Park and Black Hills, South Dakota 2016_09_22


Needles Eye Tunnel

Our adventure is always a work in progress. We have made it home, but I have a bit of catching up to do on our blog, because when you are very busy having fun…it’s difficult to keep up!

Hopefully over the next couple of weeks, I’ll have regular entries of all the exciting places and adventures we had on our Short, Short Trailer Trip. Stay tuned…we will made some unexpected turns along the way!


Custer State Park, Wildlife Loop Road

We left Badlands National Park and did a little provisioning in Rapid City on our way to Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota.

I know I say this too often, but we loved this park and the surrounding area. We spent four days exploring and didn’t even make a dent in it. We have elevated this place to a high return priority for both of us.

Without reservations, we arrived on a Friday night. Which meant we had to move camp sites in order to stay several days. The park made no site assignments. You are required to use their on-line reservation system or call center, even on the day of arrival. Most places we have been, close their online reservation within a day or two of the current day.  It was a small hurdle to jump over in exchange for an excellent and beautiful facility.

The wildlife at and around the campsite included turkeys (too early for Thanksgiving,) deer, rabbits, and beautiful birds.


Stockade North (top left) Stockade South (bottom right)

We spent one night at the Stockade North campground on site #15. We relocated early Saturday morning to Stockade South campground site #16 for the remainder of our stay. It was a rainy night and morning, but fortunately it cleared and we were able to get on the motorcycle and go exploring.

The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway is 70 miles of beautiful, mountainous, curvy, switchback, tunnel filled roads, through Custer State park, the Black Hills and to Mt. Rushmore. We only managed two sections of this byway, but these roads were made for motorcycling.


On our First day we rode the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop Road and Needles Highway. The Wildlife Loop is 18 miles through the East side of the park. We saw donkeys, goats, prairie dogs, and a couple of prong horn sheep. We had our fill of bison back at Badlands, so we didn’t feel too bad about missing them here. The rangers had already held the round-up and moved them to an area for vaccinating, and sorting in preparation of the coming quota hunt.

Needles Highway, was 14 miles of awesome, turns, tunnels and views.


Custer State Park Wildlife Loop Road


Custer State Park Wildlife Loop road


Custer State Park Wildlife Loop, Long horn sheep and horses

From the Wildlife Loop Road, we headed onto Needles Highway, with the most amazing tunnels!


Needles Highway


Iron Creek Tunnel


Iron Creek Tunnel


Needles Eye Tunnel


I want to do that tunnel again!!!


Needles Eye Tunnel, round two

We circled back through the small town of Custer and made it home before the rain moved in on us again.

Sunday we chose the Iron Mountain Road, which also had amazing tunnels, to take us to Mt. Rushmore, Hill City and Crazy Horse Monument.


CC Gideon Tunnel


CC Gideon Tunnel, spectacular view of Mt. Rushmore as you exit.

From Iron Mountain Road, we headed to Mt. Rushmore. It was a crazy busy day in the park on Sunday, so we opted for a few pics and to head on, and see what else we could find. We know we will be back to do the tour.


Views of Mt. Rushmore from Iron Mountain Road


Views of Mt. Rushmore from Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway

Hill City is what we found next…and it was time for some lunch.


Bumpin Buffalo, Hill City, SD. Bison Burgers were fabulous!



Hill City Harley Davidson didn’t wait for us! Closed for the Season. What’s up with that????

We were just going to drive by Crazy Horse too, but the weather was looking a bit grey and we decided to stroll around and check it out. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski was asked by Henry Standing Bear to carve a memorial honoring North American Indians. Work began on the mountain in 1947 and is continued today by Ziolkowski’s children. The museum has excellent chronology of the work to date and models of what the final carving will look like. The museum is also filled with Indian art and historical information, which we found interesting. Although this was definitely a worthwhile visit, there seems to be a bit of controversy on the internet, with various opinion on the authenticity of the depiction. There is always two sides to the story.


Crazy Horse, a work in progress


Indian art at Crazy Horse Memorial Museum


Crazy Horse Memorial, a work in progress

We enjoyed our time in Custer, South Dakota and we only had one other necessary stop to make, as long as we were this close…Sturgis!

Absolutely quiet, compared to what August was like, for this very small town. I’m not sure I could even imagine this place packed out with almost 450,000 attendees for 2016! Maybe one day we will get to see it in person, but for now, being able to cruise through town and browse the HD shop and be on our way to Yellowstone…with no traffic jams…was good enough for us.


Sturgis, South Dakota

We snapped a few pics along the way, just in case we need a truck, camper, or ATV…we can remember which ones we liked best!


Thanks for sharing our adventure with us. Next stop is Yellowstone, we hope you can join us.

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Get North 2016_09_14 to 2016_09_18


We had one goal.

Get North.

Get there before the cold sets in, and our Florida blood wouldn’t want to be there!

We did nine states in five days. The places we passed through so quickly are wonderful, but will have to wait for better exploration on a future trip. Here’s a quick overview of our travels North.

2016_09_14 Left Jensen Beach, FL 

Spent one night at our place in Umatilla, to mow the grass, and stretch our legs.


2016_09_15 Marianna, FL, Florida Caverns State Park.




2016_09_16 Tupelo Mississippi, Tombigbee State Park

Alabama, Mississippi



Don’t see this at home! City folk aren’t sure just what it does, but it looks like fun!


We’re not in Florida any more Toto!


I got flowers, aren’t they pretty!


The Captain has grown up to be just like Captain Jack! Beer-thirty will never be the same!



Nyah is the best navigator ever, always on watch to keep us on course.






We saw this sign on our way out of town, we didn’t stop, but we loved this area and hope to come back and spend more time.

2016_09_17 Kansas City, MO, Casa Walmart #4553

Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri,




Yes, there is an app for that and we use it on long travel days. We pick a place a gazillion miles up the road, search for a Walmart that allows over-night parking on the app. Read the reviews. Pull into the parking lot very late…argue a bit about the best place to park…because by now we are very tired…lighted area…not next to that car or trailer (they look dangerous.) And once the spot is picked, move the dog’s bed and lock ourselves in the trailer and go to sleep. I must stress this is a 24 hour parking lot, not a camp ground, so there is usually a bit of movement and commotion around and about, not for the faint of heart! But it’s a working relationship because we can get ice and any forgetten groceries and be on our way early in the morning without having to pack up.



2016_09_18 Canistota, South Dakota, Vermillion State Park.

Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota





Here are a few other pics along the way.







Sorry for the bug splat, but the open road is awesome here!

We made it! Next stop, Badlands National Park. Thanks for following along with us, we can’t wait to show you how beautiful South Dakota is. And as always, we hope you are inspired to plan your get-away.