The Adventure Continues!
Man, did I sleep well last night. I think that may have been the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. I didn't even sleep that long and I woke up feeling completely rested. It turns out that there were in fact vacancies in the hotel I was staying at for anotehr night, so I cancelled with the Super 8 I had reservations for, and booked another night with this one, the Ramada in Black Hawk. I did have to change rooms, but it's all good. I recommend this place.
After getting in the swim I promised myself this morning, I set out for Mt. Rushmore in the middle of the Black Hills. There is some really pretty country in there, but it is really hard to get a good picture of it. Also, the air is fresh and clean and actually have a nice pine scent from all the trees.
Mount Rushmore is about what you would expect, which should be something awesome. I don't really know what to say about it that you wouldn't already know. I'm sure you've seen pictures (and if you haven't, look below). I spent a lot of time there, though. There is a trail that kind of goes into the woods closer to the monument, and museums, and all kinds of stuff around the site. It was also only $8 to get an annual pass to get in, which makes it a real bargain. I didn't feel it was overly crowded either. Definitely a highlight of this trip (which is good, because it's kind of reason I came out here).
After Rushmore, I made the short hop down to the Crazy Horse memorial. This one was started in 1948 and is still a work in progress. It was started when Lakota elders asked a man named Korczak, who had worked on Rushmore, to make a monument to the famous chief. He started working on it all by himself, and later with his sons. The size of the monument dwarfs Rushmore, but it is completely funded by private donation, as the artists (following Korczak's lead) will not except any kind of govenrment funding. It is slow going and no one knows when it will be done, but their goal is to only continue making progress for however long it takes.
It was getting late in theday by this point, but I still wanted to see Devil's Tower in Wyoming, about an hour and a half from Rapid City. My plan was to head directly north through the Hills from Crazy Horse, and pass through Deadwood and Sturgis, but somehow I made a wrong turn and ended up back in Rapis City. It was a setback, but I pressed on and made it to Devil's Tower about 7:30, just in time to see it at sunset. It's a pretty cool effect to see it at that time, but it did mean I didn't get to spend much time there. I really didn't want to be hanging around the park after dark. But I did get some pictures, which is what I really wanted.
Ok, seeing Devil's Tower at sunset: GOOD. Making your way back to I-90 after the sun has set: NOT SO GOOD. Well, it could have been better. See, Devil's Tower is a bit off the beaten track and about a 40 minute drive from I-90 through some winding roads through the hills. Really pretty stuff, even in twilight. But those roads can be a little nerve-racking, especially if you just want to get out of there before it gets completely dark. Strangely, on the way there and the way back, I hardly saw any other cars, so I was feeling kind of lonesome. Oh yeah, and when it gets harder to see the wildlife in the dark, that can be kind of harrowing. Two occassions on the way back I had deer trying to cross the road right in front of me. And I didn't know when another might jump out; maybe too close for me to stop in time. Not fun.
But I did make it back to my hotel in one piece, just in time for me to get in a swim of about 3 minutes before they closed the pool at 10:00. It felt good just to get a dip in though. I had dinner at the Sonic drive-in I passed on the way down to Rushmore. The food there is pretty good and there aren't too many drive-ins anymore. They either need to put on in Minnesota, or stop showing us their commercials. It looked like it was a hang out for all the teenager hot rodders in town, though. I saw quite a few muscle/sport cars around, including someone with a real classic-style hot rod (open engine, big tires in the back, you know what I'm talking about).
On the way back I took a moment to look at the sky. They have a lot more stars out here! I didn't even manage to find a particularly dark spot and could immediately see the Milky Way. Also, the moment I looked up I immediately saw a shooting star and a satellite making its way across the sky. That was special.
Tomorrow, I hit up Wall Drug and make a second pass at the Badlands. The I head home, probably getting in pretty late.
Anyway, this is getting long and I need to get to bed. Here are some pictures:
Crazy Horse Memorial:
Q. How can you tell a car is happy?
A. You can see the bugs in its grill.