I cannot just leave this dang blog alone for a whole week. So. We arrived a day ahead of schedule because Mapquest and the GPS had different conclusions about how long it would take to travel 828 miles. We swung by the Corn Palace before checking into our lodging in Rapid City. Today we did the faces of South Dakota.
Mount Rushmore was as grand as I remember it from my childhood visit. We ate at the cafeteria on site (great food--you cannot go wrong eating at national monuments) and saw license plates from all over North America. Putting a particular poignancy to our visit was a Naturalization ceremony that afternoon. We recognized the future citizens by the fact that they were dressed to the nines for their special occasion. I kind of choked up at the idea of these people becoming citizens. FYI: Thomas Jefferson is my favorite of the four presidents up there.
We hit Crazy Horse next. It has changed quite a bit since my last visit in 1978 (or thereabouts). Much more commercial. The armpit and face are more defined. They barely got a caterpillar through the armpit when I last saw it and the face wasn't even started yet. When I went last time you really had to use your imagination to see the face and horse head in the mountain. And today I confess to not having any love for Indian (Native American? They say "Indian" here but if you were to travel to Oneida Nation north of where I live they'd get their dander up, so what to say?) art. The beads, designs, colors, all of it does NOTHING for me at all. Consequently, I found the Crazy Horse museum one giant yawn. I have no interest in seeing more beaded eagle/turtle/wolf necklaces, thankyouverymuch. We left carrying a couple of rocks blasted off the side of the mountain. Whew. Sorry, folks, but taste in art is subjective and this Western stuff is NOT my cup of tea.
Nor are the Great Plains. We drove through some of the most desolate, empty, wide open land to get here. Not for millions of dollars would I want to live here. It creeps me out, all this vast flat nothingness of plains before the mountains begin. I much prefer my forests of trees.
There appears to be some devastation of the pine trees around here, not sure. Huge swaths of land in the Black Hills National Forest/Park were either brown or cut down for some reason or another. Beetles? That's my guess.
And we ended our first day at Bear Country U.S.A. where we saw the bears getting fed (shovelfuls of bread) and lost Mr. G. We found him at the far end of the park making friends with a bear cub. We escaped that tourist trap with a coffee mug for Mr. D.
Now, after running Team Testosterone totally ragged at South Dakota's largest indoor water park (a shadow of what we're accustomed to, living near the Wisconsin Dells), we're waiting for dinner to be delivered and bedtime...my legs are so tired from walking hither and thither and yon all day. Tomorrow: horseback riding, a wild west show, caves and Reptile World. As they say in the Wild West, "Hold your horses! We're in for a wild ride!"