Jewel Cave keeps me both mentally and physically busy during the work week. In addition to photo monitoring and structure mapping, there are always side projects that need to be done. One such project was installing a 2500‘ PVC drainage pipeline to empty out water from an evaporation pond that was filling up due to all the rain we’ve had. For fun, I roughly calculated the outflow of water with Darcy’s Law and resulted within 20% of what the maintenance supervisor figured it would be. I enjoyed applying some knowledge from my previous semester of hydrology to a real-life scenario such as this. Assembling this pipeline was a lot of work for 7 people, and I was so exhausted from lugging around pipes across the uneven terrain.

When we finished installing the pipeline, I then mapped it and the outflow pattern with a GPS unit.

Anyway, by the end of that Friday shift, I was ready to go to bed at 4 PM. That was, until I reminded myself that I don’t have a whole lot of time in the Black Hills. So, I linked up with a few colleagues and went to Mt. Rushmore and then saw a play at Custer State Park.

You can’t visit the Black Hills and not see Mt. Rushmore

Perhaps I should have rested instead, but I’ve barely skimmed the surface and there’s still so much to see and do. I’ll be disappointed if I didn’t experience as much of the region as I could have. Sleep is one dimension of relieving work fatigue. The other dimensions are engaging with the culture, taking in the sights, and making memories. Gotta be well-rounded, ya know? Adventures don’t have to be grandiose, they can be as humble as trying a new restaurant or driving down scenic roads.

Here are some cool places I’ve experienced so far:

A serene canyon view of a small portion of Badlands National Park

A participant of the Buffalo Chip Flip at Custer State Park. A buffalo chip is a disc-shaped hunk of digested grasses produced by buffaloes

A side-view of the Crazy Horse Memorial, a monument to the Lakota chief. It is entirely funded through public donations and efforts from the native community

During the biannual Custer Volksmarch, the arm of Crazy Horse is open to the public 

A disarmed Minuteman ICBM with a dummy warhead inside of an old decommissioned silo. Preserved by the NPS at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

A comical-yet-slightly-frightening sign depicting the capabilities of a Minuteman ICBM: once fired, it can reach anywhere in the world in 30 minutes or less, similar to the delivery capabilities of your local neighborhood pizza joint.

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