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Centennial Park -Sturgis

Our original plan for the day had been to go for a little hike. We parked at our chosen trailhead, eager to enjoy a wintertime adventure. However, when we stepped out of the car, the wind was whipping around completely negating any good the sun was doing. Normally the dogs love a snowy hike but today was just a little too chilly.

Minutes into our adventure, Ursa began doing the Cold Paw Dance (that move dogs do where they lift one paw up and then the other because the ground is too cold). That's all I needed to see -time to head back to the car. She declined being carried, (although it was offered) and instead enthusiastically led the charge to our awaiting, still-warm vehicle.

Still brimming with pent-up energy, it was time for Plan B. Conveniently located just off Exit 30 in Sturgis, South Dakota was a small city park. We were near the exit anyways; may as well give it a try.

Centennial Park was situated just behind a busy commercial district close to Interstate 90. However, the park itself was quiet and calm during our visit. A clear, snow-free bike path ran though the grounds. Ursa already liked this much better (Maggie was happy either way).

A long, snowy park stretched out before us. First order of business was to dart from one tree to another, sniffing them and searching for critters.

Sturgis is home to an extensive bike path, which happens to run through the length of Centennial Park. It continues for over 4 miles from the east side of town to the west.

Most of the snow was gone from the surface of the sun-warmed walking and biking path. Maggie could roll in the snow off to the side while Ursa stayed on the dry walkway -what a fantastic compromise! Ursa was still keen to trot after smells or look for squirrels, then we'd return to the dry biking path.

We came upon a bright red picnic table and a small playground. The girls followed smells that intrigued them. Maggie continued to periodically roll in the snow along the way.

The dogs had fun meandering down the paved walking path and enjoying the various scents it carried.

We came upon the American Bridge to our left. The bike path continued straight ahead of us across the street, but the girls wanted to look out over Bear Butte Creek from the bridge above. The creek was nearly dry this time of year. Snow and rocks filled the large creek bed. After looking at the scenery (and barking at some deer below), we resumed our walk.

The wind picked up and began to bite. As a general rule of thumb, if my cheeks start to sting I assume little dog ears are starting to also. We came to a bench near a break in the path. Ahead of us the walkway crossed the street again and continued on for miles. After some distance it would reach Woodland Park and City Municipal Park, which we had visited before.

This spot seemed like a good stopping point for our walk. Although the girls still had enthusiasm for our trek, it was starting to turn colder.

We took a quick water and treat break at the bench. The girls were suddenly distracted by movement in the tree branches above -squirrels! First the dogs had seen deer by the empty creek bed and now there were squirrels gallivanting about. The girls decided this place was great. The chill in the air didn't dampen their spirits, but it was time to start heading back towards the car.

We made our way back along the snow-lined pathway. It was a lovely, wintry January day.

The afternoon sun gently fell behind a large cloud and the air grew more crisp. We were having a nice time, but we had dawdled around long enough. Even the sun had decided to call it an early day. After some last looks and sniffs around the park, we loaded back into the car.

We were disappointed that the weather had shaped our day the way it had, but we were also grateful to have found a place to take a walk. The bike path had been clear and warm from the sunshine. Although we'd been thwarted from the wilderness, the city had provided a welcome respite from the winter conditions. Our walk through Centennial Park had certainly been a better alternative to tucking our tails between our legs and simply going home.

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