Day four of my Great American road trip. From my journal May 2nd 2010:
“After a good night’s sleep and an adequate breakfast, we set off from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore. The sun is shining, but it isn’t at all warm. I’m blown across the car park with my just blow dried hair flying in all directions, especially over my eyes. There’s no sign of snow and I can see patches of blue sky peeping through the grey clouds. Eight degrees centigrade. Luxury! As we drive through the town, we see amazing life size bronze statues of past presidents. There are apparently 17 of these dotted around the sidewalks. Hubby remarks that they wouldn’t last long in a South African city. They would all be carted away in the night and sold for scrap metal. Sad isn’t it?
As we drive out of town, every second building we pass seems to be a motel or a restaurant. We stop for petrol and I’m so grateful it isn’t me who has to get out and stand in the freezing wind to fill the tank. No petrol attendants here, or in England for that matter. We are very spoilt in South Africa, sitting in the car whilst our windscreens are washed and our tanks filled.
We’re now in South Dakota and I’m singing that old Doris Day song, “Take me back to the Black hills, the Black hills of Dakota.” How do I even know that song?? Surely it was long before my time! The rocks look like black slate and are covered with pine trees. I must have seen a zillion of them in the last few days. We pass by ‘Thunder Goldmine, Crystal Caverns, Get Lost Maze,’ and many other tourist sites. This place must really be buzzing in the holiday season, but not in this weather. The highway passes through the Black Forest, and the temperature starts to drop as we roll into historic Keystone, a picturesque town of wooden shop fronts. Hubby braves the biting wind to get a photo.
We’re soon out of town and heading up towards Mount Rushmore National Memorial. As we round a bend at the top of the hill, suddenly, there it is in all it’s amazing glory. Absolutely breathtakingly stunning! The faces are so unbelievably lifelike and their eyes seem to look straight at you.
We drive into the car park and I’m so glad of my warm coat, hat and scarf. It’s icy cold and the wind is whistling all around us.
After getting a closer look, we go into the shop where it’s lovely and warm and I buy my Mom some pink and white Mount Rushmore socks and a coffee mug which I know she’ll be very proud of.
Then we’re off to “Crazy Horse” 17 miles away, past ‘ Horse Thief Lake and Breezy Picnic Area.’ (You can say that again!) Never a more breezy place have I visited. I’ll never moan about the wind in Umhlanga again.
Driving along, there are snowflakes falling and we spot a few wooden houses through the fir trees. Higher up, there are still large patches of snow as we approach the Crazy Horse Monument. It’s still under construction and is HUMONGOUS!
They say that the Mount Rushmore sculpture would fit into just the head of Crazy Horse. It was started in 1948 by a Polish American, Korczak Ziolkowski and after his death in 1982, his wife and seven of his ten children have carried on the work. The video we saw of how it all came about, was truly awe inspiring. What a story! This is a model on the left showing what the finished sculpture will look like, with the actual in the distance.
Then we’re off to Deadwood, a 90 minute drive away and it’s started to snow again. No blue sky left, just heavy white clouds. We cross the bridge over Pactola Lake and there‘s nothing to see except more pine trees, tiny snowflakes, and sleet. We pass a sign to Nemo, but there’ll be no finding him today. We’re on a mission to get to Deadwood and have some lunch. When we arrive we see a place called ‘Mustang Sally’s’, opposite the Harley dealer, and decide it will be a good place to eat. This place has seen better days and has lots of mismatched tables and chairs and a dozen huge TV screens each showing a different sports channel. Framed baseball shirts line the walls and there’s a cabinet full of silver trophies.
I sit and watch the 136th Kentucky Derby as I eat my butterflied shrimp and French fries. In the ladies loo there’s a dispenser for “Slick Willy” condoms. Love the name! 😉 The town is mainly gaming parlors and sports saloons and I’m sure in the tourist season, is absolutely frenetic.
Then we’re on our way to Billings, a 5 hour drive on the Interstate. Hubby announces, “Next stop Custer’s Last Stand.” It’s 6pm when we arrive at the Custer Memorial and they’re just closing the gates, but hubby pleads with the man in charge to just let us in long enough to take a couple of photos, and he obliges; good man. This is the site of The Battle of Little Bighorn where General Custer and his men were defeated by the Red Indians led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. It has a really eerie feeling to it, as we stand there in the cold wind, surveying this historic scene.
Next stop along the way is the Trading Post Cafe where we have “Cowboy soup and Indian fried bread.” Very good for the waistline I’m sure. 😉 It’s very tasty though.
Then it’s only one hour to Billings, and in the distance we can see Yellowstone National Park looking very white indeed. This is where we are headed tomorrow, but tonight we are here at the Crown Plaza Hotel and ready for a good night’s sleep before we set off again on our adventure.”
I hope you’re enjoying my account of our snowy, freezing cold adventure. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. 😉