Small House Big World


The Black Hills and Brakes that Work!

Anna Edgren • July 7, 2015

We’ve spent the past week or so in the Black Hills, located in the very western part of South Dakota near Wyoming.

sd black hils


We decided to slow down and take a rest after our whole semi-traumatic high-speed journey from state to state where we encountered a wicked combination of hail, wind, and faulty brakes. We took a load off and spent a few days at Whispering Pines Campground, resting in the cool mountain air.

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Located right in the hills with some beautiful scenery nearby, it was just the peaceful reprieve we needed. 

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Then we relocated to Rapid City, where camping is somewhat cheaper and we could be a bit closer to civilization, yet still right at the base of the forest.

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Our campsite just a bit outside of town off of I-90

Step 1 in Rapid City was to get our brakes fixed. We found a shop to do it, and were able to stay in their parking lot for a couple of days while they sourced parts and replaced two very rusted out brake lines. During the day we would go into town to work while they were fixing the RV, so we spent a couple of days downtown at coffee shops working next to this adorable town square. 

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What you can’t see is the heat – it was over 90 degrees for both of the days our RV was in the shop… brutal.

Numerous little children from the park came up to pet, hug, and shower love on Max. 

Romancing the ladies

It’s exhausting being so popular

Without much fuss, we had both front brake lines replaced for a total price of $350, which we found to be very reasonable. Especially when that price buys me the confidence that when I step on the brake, the home that I am driving comes to a complete stop. Success!

Since we’ve been in Rapid City for a while, we have a couple of good food and beverage recommendations if you’re ever in the area:

1. Independent Ale House


Great flatbread/pizza options and salads and an AMAZING beer list with lots of local and regional craft brews. The first time we went there (yes we went more than once) they were having a beard contest:

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2. Firehouse Brewing Co


This one is a bit more touristy – driving along I-90 we spotted numerous firetrucks and billboards advertising the place. However, it is a nice place right downtown, HUGE, with a great beer selection, and great food. The nachos were fantastic, and they have a Gorgonzola Ale soup…. Wow. This place we also went to twice. 

In other news, we have taken up a new hobby – disc golf. If you are not familiar, it is much like golf, except played with a frisbee, and you try to shoot the frisbee into baskets that are placed around the course. 

Playing disc golf for the first time. A for effort!

Playing disc golf for the first time. A for effort!

Rapid City has not one but TWO disc golf courses. On one of our first passes through, a nice woman stopped to let us know that there was a clinic being held by a professional disc golf player, Joe Rovere, the next Friday at the other course.  We ended up going and found ourselves hilariously inept compared to the other more experienced disc-golfers (well I did, Kelly is actually pretty good somehow). But we had a blast anyway learning about all the different throws and styles and types of discs. We are looking forward to checking out other disc golf courses!  A good excuse to be outside. 

And speaking of being outside, one of the best parts about being in this area is the hiking – We have taken some amazing walks, including hiking along the Centennial Trail, which is a 111-mile trail through the Black Hills (of which we walked approximately 3 miles, don’t be fooled). 

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Hiking along Sheridan Lake

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We also just both read a book called the Mushroom Hunters, and predictably we spotted about 100x more mushrooms that we likely would have seen otherwise, including these beauties:

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It turns out these are actually the inspiration for the Super Mario Brothers’ mushroom, and yes, naturally, they are edible AND have psychedelic properties (although we cannot speak to this firsthand!!)

Max and I also took a long walk through an interesting part of the Black Hills that is a combination of farmland, ATV trails, Elk Wilderness preservation, and sustainably farmed timber. To my great horror, Max took this opportunity to intimately acquaint himself with a giant and unfortunately quite fresh cow pie.  

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At least he managed to look remorseful

I was really hoping the whole time that we would run into some of these aforementioned cows – Max’s reaction to cows cracks me up, and I wanted to see what he would do when confronted with a whole host of them.  So we were walking along when I thought I excitedly spotted a cow in the distance on the trail. As we got closer I realized that although it was big like a cow, its head was a bit small – that’s when I realized we had stumbled upon a family of elk! Way more exciting than cows, it turns out. 

We also stumbled upon what appear to be cow watering holes, which of course Max couldn’t be kept away from. 

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Unfortunately this didn’t serve to make him much cleaner – he got a proper bath when he got home, which he was not happy about (me either, Max).  

We also had a great 4th of July at Sheridan Lake, where we escaped the crazy heat and got to play in the water and have a picnic.  

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Kelly and I played frisbee with a whole group of 6-year-old kids for HOURS – it was adorable. We had an absolute blast. 

We left the Rapid City area and are now staying just outside of Deadwood. More on Deadwood shortly. We will be here for a few more days, then heading on to Wyoming and Yellowstone!

black hillscentennial traildisc golfhikingrapid citysheridan lake

Anna Edgren • July 7, 2015

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  1. emily vincent July 8, 2015 - 10:30 am Reply

    I’m someone who knows your mom & took a west rambling camping trip for several months in 1979. thank you for the blog of your experience & great pictures that also remind me of parts of my trip. Quite the parallel? you’re across US; mom’s in Europe.

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