Rapid City, South Dakota
We park a third car in front of the motorhome on Monday evening. Piper's brake-assist and tow-bar install isn't done when we get out of the movie theater so we drive the loaner car home.
Star Trek Beyond is very good - lots of action and lots of fun. It definitely needs to be seen in a more modern theater though - so much of the battle scenes are too dark to see everything. Still, a good way to spend a couple hours on a hot summer day.
Tuesday is a long and exhausting day - from the very beginning.
The winds are at 35 mph for the morning drive into Gillette. Cross winds. Nasty gusts.
And after hooking Piper up, we get to do it again! We backtrack the 30 miles, and then another 170 miles of the same, with a short break with lower wind speeds between Sundance and Spearfish.
The big Sturgis, SD, motorcyle run starts next week, and we are already sharing the road with numerous bikes. The highway is dotted with dozens of RV parks - I've never seen so many in an area.
Construction at every bridge, a stop to check the tire the TPMS tells us is hot, and more construction in Rapid City adds even more excitement!
I'm very glad to pull into Happy Holidays Campground and be done with this trip!
We're escorted to our site which shares a covered picnic area - two tables but very "snug". Gravel site is level with FHUs, 50 amp. Our satellite connects, and we have shade from tall trees. There are two large shower houses, basketball court, pool, laundry, cabins and small store. It's about 2/3 full.
Dinner at Stonewalls is the best we've had in a long time - I highly recommend it when you're in the area.
Because we extended our stay in Gillette, and have several reservations further east, we only have one day here. Clearly, not even close to enough for all there is to see and do.
Wednesday we head out early - today is going to hit triple digits.
The drive to Mt Rushmore is a testimony to the tourist-lure of the area. In 12 miles we pass a dinosaur museum, a presidents museum built to "look like" Independence Hall, a maze, 3 mini-golf courses, a Christmas emporium, a "mysterious" area, Bear Country, and at least 6 other places promising wonderful family fun. The town of Keystone is a street of all tourist-trap stores. It is an affront on the senses!
Fortunately, after we pass the giant KOA, the natural beauty of the Black Hills takes over. Soon we're in line to enter the national monument with a dozen other vehicles. A concession gets $11 for us to park in a nice covered lot.
Like Bear Lodge, that first glimpse of the faces on the mountain is amazing. It's such an American icon, we're excited to be here!
|The first sighting|
|10 am mid-week summer crowd|
|Close up from the viewing patio - love Roosevelt's glasses|
|Green space around the monument softens all the gray stone|
|From all the state flags|
|we find our home state of California|
|George's profile from Hwy 16 - can you imagine if you didn't know the monument was there.....|
|Mt Rushmore would fit in the space that is Crazy Horse's head|
|1/34th scale model of the monument - Crazy Horse pointing to his home - "My lands are where my dead lie buried."|
|Work has moved to the hand|
|The face was unveiled in 1994|
After learning the history of the Black Hills while we were at Little Big Horn, and seeing the area ourselves, it is not hard to understand why this location was chosen for this undertaking.
The cultural center has an outstanding collection (actually filled with numerous donations from private collections) of framed art, sculptures and artifacts.
|Large oil painting of Ziolkowski|
|Black Elk's Dream is painted on a full-size tipi|
|Bronze and textile art|
|Chief Standing Bear's original letter to Ziolkowski, nine years before the dedication of the site, and the beginning of the work|
|A poignant painting|
I'm so glad I did!
My very dear friend Greg's uncle, Ed McGaa, is an Ogalala Sioux author. I have read his best-selling Mother Earth Spirituality more than once. He is one of the vendors :-)
|Uncle Ed telling stories|
I purchase his book on Crazy Horse and Red Cloud and head out. What a great experience to meet this man in person.
|Beautiful metal Nature Gates|
|From a different angle|
|The original Buda generator that began the work 67 years ago|
I make a much-needed grocery run and we stay home for the evening.
Another long driving day on Thursday - no wind in the forecast!!
|We will return to the Black Hills for a longer visit|