What is my funniest memory I can think of from an Austin-Lehman adventure? Well, from growing up in the guiding business, a list of my funniest recollections literally has no end. But for some reason when thinking back in time, a certain adventure that took place in the beautiful Black Hills a few years ago comes to mind.
If you think that Mount Rushmore is all that the wide open state of South Dakota has to offer, then think again! ALA’s South Dakota cycling tour features the not-so-famous Mickelson Trail, a 110 mile Rails to Trails project that begins in Deadwood ( a mini western Las Vegas) and ends in Edgemont, a sleepy town with 750 residents. Between these two towns lies a Ponderosa pine paradise, Custer State Park.
Custer State Park is home to wildlife big and small from the burly, brawny bison to the peeking, passive prairie dog. Somewhere in between these two mammals is the infamous begging burro, a donkey that is not native to the Black Hills. These animals are descendants from the herd of burros that once hauled visitors to the top of Harney Peak. Once the rides discontinued, the burros were released into Custer State Park where they have become a popular visitor attraction.
Driving up in our Austin-Lehman van, I saw these begging burros from a mile away. As our group happened to reside in the only vehicle on the road at that time, we slowly crept up to the herd of burros “waiting” for our van. As if guarding the road, our van was immediately surrounded by burros demanding food from our snack basket. Turning around to joke with the guests behind me, I felt a nudge on my arm. One of the burros had stuck its head through the open window! Not able to stop laughing, we patiently waited as the burros decided that today was not their day for scoring snacks. About 15 minutes later, once a few other cars had pulled up and the burros grew bored with our van, they stampeeded away on to the vehicles behind us and we were free to drive up the road.
Austin-Lehman vacations are all about creating memories with friends new and old, family, and loved ones. A memory as simple as “the attack of the begging burros” brings me back to a time of laughter and friendship that I will hold onto for years to come.
Where will you create your next memory?