Visitors improvise, stay course during summer's wet start - KOTA Territory News

Visitors improvise, stay course during summer's wet start

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Black Hills residents and other visitors at local attractions shrugged off the weekend's wet start of summer.

The inventive wore plastic pullovers while keeping their seasonal shorts and sneakers.

Under their umbrellas, retirees Frank and Geraldine "Gerry" Webb proved that tourism is not just for out-of-state visitors.

They schedule at least a weekly outing to explore what's in the region's backyard.

"Every Sunday, we never know (what we're going to do.) We live in Rapid and every weekend we go do what feels good," said Frank. "To see something different," Gerry said.

This weekend, the couple explored the Fort Hays frontier town and made cowboy rope for the first time, thanks to hands-on coaching by owner Herman Jones.

Other explorers in vehicles from Texas to Quebec and Massachusetts to Michigan also took to the Hills in search for something different.

Marcie Rufer of Des Moines, Iowa, escorted her plastic-wrapped grandson Xander, 4, on his first Black Hills visit.

"We just came in last night so we're trying to find something we can do indoors til the rain stops," she said Sunday at the Reptile Gardens entrance

Adam and Amber Snyder brought their two children from Milroy, Minn., to the Hills because of the scenery. After two days of rain they also stopped at Reptile Gardens to dry off and then see other traditional roadside attractions on Highway 16.

'I think we're going to see some bears (at Bear Country) and then we'll go see Mount Rushmore," Adam said.

Preseason surveys predict another good summer season fro South Dakota's most popular icon, thanks in part to a growing number of newcomers like the Moss family. They came from Cincinnati, Ohio, and patiently out waited rain and fog to see the four famous faces.

"We came out here to see Mount Rushmore and we're going to see Mount Rushmore," family spokesman Tim Moss said. "Not a lot of people where we're from get to see this type of stuff. It's a great experience and we're especially grateful."

The group of seven left with memories they expect will rank with their pending Yellowstone and Las Vegas experiences.

Although relatively young, this summer tourist season already is seeing returning regional regulars like Reynaldo Martinez. He says the scenery and activities like Deadwood gambling keep them driving from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Rain, he said, is a reason to improvise, like buying souvenir Rushmore rain gear.

"Nothing's changed," Martinez said of the family's local travel plans. "We're going back to Keystone. We're going to get some old time photos and have lunch. Nothing's changed."

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