We spend the night in Custer State Park, our last night of camping. Ironically, camping gets more difficult the more civilized the environment. Camping in the national parks in the middle of nowhere had been easy: take an envelope at the entrance, pick a site, fill out the envelope back and stub, note site number, return envelope with appropriate amount to the entrance. No problem.
Custer State Park, by contrast, requires reservations for all campsites. Needless to say, we don’t have a reservation – this late in our trip we had to rely on improvisation more than on planning. To reserve a campsite, you have to call a certain phone number – talking to the ranger at the campground is not enough. Of course, our cell phones don’t work, and so we have to use the public phone at the campground. Which is currently used by some other people for the exact same purpose. It is hard to imagine under what circumstances this system works better than the standard NP way of doing things.
Alistair succeeds in securing a campsite, however, and we spend out last night camping next to a creek – just like our first two. What we’ve failed to secure, however, is food. Not from lack of trying, but because all the towns in the Black Hills are expecting tourists to eat out, not buy food for themselves. In the end our meal consists in steak sandwich (leftovers from dinner the night before), miso soup (instant), and beans on toast. Not bad, but a bit of a disappointment compared to earlier feasts of steak, grilled salmon, and teriyake chicken. Not to mention fresh salads and fruits.
On the upside, we have nice neighbors at the campsite – Canadians, who come over and share their wine and stories.