Road Trip 2011 – Part 4 – Rushing Less @ Rushmore

Day 4 – Gillette, Wyoming – Having heard that you should see Mt. Rushmore in the morning due to the lighting, we got up early and headed out. Well, after hitting the free breakfast at the Comfort Inn. (They had bacon & sausage, & mini-omelets with cheese!)

RT-04-Hotel-01 Giving Wednesday a ride in from the car. RT-04-Hotel-02And "Yes" that's pink racing stripes in Grandma's hair back there. Proof that when you reach a certain age, you don't give a rat's fat @$$ what anyone else thinks about you.

We set out across the flat Wyoming prairie heading toward Rapid City. Rapidly. Our path would carry us near Devils Tower.

And past Devils Tower. At about 75 mph.

We'd talked about it, and it was about 30 miles off the highway. That was going to add about another hour and a half or so for a 5 minute photo-op just to say we saw it. So Devils Tower didn't make the cut. But technically, we did SEE it on the horizon.

RT-04-Devils-Tower-01 What we saw from the interSTATE, at speed. RT-04-Devils-Tower-02 What we could have see (stolen from the interNET.)

Our route took us thru Sturgis, SD. Home of the famous/infamous "Sturgis Motorcycle Rally". Luckily, we missed bike week by about 10 days. There were still plenty of people around the area riding their Harleys, but they were your typical bikers out on a sightseeing vacation ride with their wives and friends. (Heck, the "Old Faithful Cheeser" picture from the Part 3 was taken by a biker.)

Now, I've been to Mt. Rushmore. It was many years ago, but I recalled parking in a big parking lot, and walking up a pathway to a split rail wooden fence and seeing the monuments.

The place looks a little different now. Fancier.

The parking lot has been replaced by a parking garage, and the pathway and wooden fence have been upgraded, too. Here's a little 360° shot I did.

The weather was perfect. I don't think the sky gets anymore BLUE than that. And the sun was baking the two fair skinned members of my little tribe. Speaking of tribes, after we got home (don't judge), we watched the episode of "Kate + Eight" and they were there in July, and it was cloudy, and Kate kept saying it was Franklin D. Roosevelt up there (it's Teddy), and she bitched and whined about people taking their picture and Tweeting about them as they rushed through with their camera crew and entourage in tow. So glad that freak show wasn't there when we were there.

The obligatory picture. I couldn't resist the urge to get all artistic when I got home.
Some surrounding rock formations. More surrounding rocks.
SONY DSC From atop the benches just outside the parking garage. RT-04-Rushmore-03 George in profile from the road.

When we got to Mt. Rushmore, we did see a "Snooki-wannabee" (heretofore called
"B( . )( . )B Lady"). Let's just say Rushmore didn't have an exclusive on "manmade mountains" that day. But in the spirit of American kinship, we took her group's photo, and she took ours. With each other's cameras. Not with our own like she seemed to think at the beginning. (They posed but forgot to hand over a camera!) Then came our turn.

After Rushmore, we took the twisty turning road to the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial. This work-in-progress sculpture is pretty cool. What really helps it out are the orientation movie you can watch, and the huge Native People's craft hall. If it were just the statue in it's current state, maybe not so much. If they ever complete the sculpture, and since this is as far as they've gotten in 63 YEARS, it's a valid "if", I do want to come back and see it. I just don't see how the arm and the horse's hoof are going to do that.

One thing about Crazy Horse, the guy, is that while they are carving a statue of him, no one really knows what he looked like. Over there on the right is a carving based on "word pictures" that the sculptor got from some people who met him back, "in the day".

Guess they could pull up DMV records from that long ago.

What the mountain currently looks like. Click to enlarge and see that there are people working on it. What the mountain is going to look like.
A model of the horse's head. An model of Crazy Horse's head.
RT-04-Crazy-Horse-01The girls. A UNIMOG! Don't see those every day.

And here's my impersonation of a "steadycam" on a tracking shot. There's some fancy footwork going over the little foot bridge, if I do say so myself.

After Crazy Horse, we drove back to Rapid City, and ate @ Perkin's. It's an inside joke with her father, but the food was pretty good, and we all needed to slow down a little, since it was about 3:00 in the afternoon and we'd been going all day. Earlier, Cora and I had a talk, and we agreed that we weren't going to try to kill ourselves driving over to Souix Fall, SD (about 350 miles away). We were thinking of calling it a day around 6:00 and finding a hotel and a nice dinner. We knew we were wearing out, and we didn't HAVE to make the drive in 4 days.

That plan didn't play out exactly as we'd hoped, as you will see.

Right outside Rapid City a little ways is Wall, SD. Home of the famous Wall Drug Store. We didn't really have time for much more than a pit stop & a few quick photos. We were losing our light, so we posed for a couple of pictures…


And having learned our lesson from the day before, headed off for "The Badlands" well before dark.

For those of you who have never been, the Badlands are really spectacular. You're driving along through absolutely non-descript open grasslands and then, you're faced with something not of this earth.

Suddenly, the grassland turns into this rugged and desolate landscape. Imagine driving your covered wagon along and then hitting this canyon?
Seriously, what would you do? Besides stop and admire the flowers.
Go around? Try to go down?
Or just hang your head… and curse the Fates?
I tried to get a shot of how steep, deep and utter deadly a plop over the edge would be. 3D to 2D fail, but trust me, slipping over the edge would make for a very bad day.
RT-04-Badlands-02I can safely say, Cora was not happy to be wandering around on the edge of the cliff. RT-04-Badlands-03But she didn't mind taking pictures from the side of the road. This is one of Cora's shots. I just love the colors in the rocks.
RT-04-Badlands-01Another "Cora Special". The woman can compose a picture. RT-04-Badlands-04Yes, we were really losing our light as the wife snapped this one.
But we had to stop once more to see what everybody was looking at in this field… PRAIRIE DOGS!!!!

(For more of Cora's pictures, go to her blog [LINK])

Eventually, we bid the Badlands "goodbye" and go back on I-90 heading east.

And crossed into the Central Time Zone, and lost another hour! R@T F@RTS!

But a funny thing happened. While it slowly became night, it stayed "dusk" for a pretty long time. Almost as if the sun was trying to make up for the stunt it'd pulled on us the night before.

We drove on until we got to Oacoma, SD. It wasn't super late, when we pulled in, but there was something horrifying going on:


There were swarms of thousands and thousands of them everywhere. We don't have them around here, so I didn't know what they were until the hotel manager told me. And then I relaxed, because I did know that:

  • Mayflies don't sting or bite.
  • Mayflies last about as long as Lindsay Lohan's rehabs.

We didn't get a picture of them because, well, they're still gnasty bugs flying all over and it gets a little freaky when they start landing in your hair, or flying up your untucked t-shirt and stuff, and we opted to run like the wind (Bullseye) whenever we were near them.

In the morning, one of the maids was sweeping up the piles of mayflies from in front of the entrance way. But better than the mystery stain!


Anonymous said...

"Proof that when you reach a certain age, you don't give a rat's fat @$$ what anyone else thinks about you."

I stopped caring about age 12.

Cora said...

DEFINITELY better than the mystery stain! Although, if they had been stinging bugs, I would change my vote on that.

I love the videos. They make me laugh. I didn't notice it before, but I just caught it this time around that you can hear me saying "I can see right up their noses!" in the Rushmore one. Nice. Classy.


Shana said...

I was thinking the nose thing as well!!! ha

So. Cal. Gal said...

I've been to Mt. Rushmore but was waaaaay too young to care. The pic of the 3 of you that (.)(.)s took should be your Christmas card!

I've also flown over the Badlands and it was awesome enough from thousands of feet in the air, so I can imagine.

AND have you ever been in a pool with about a gazillion june bugs? Not in CA, but CT. NOT fun!

Looks like a fantastic trip!

SkylersDad said...

My favorite part?

Where you were walking along and said "I've got skills". That is exactly something I would do and say!

Scope said...

Joshua - I'm not there exactly yet, but am starting to think I could be the guy telling random kids to get a haircut and pull their damn pants up soon.

Cora - If the bugs would have been biting or stinging, we so would have gone on to the next town.

I don't play that way.

Shana - You should see some of Cora's telephoto pictures on her blog. You can see up the nostrils.

So. Cal. Gal - We have been trying to decide on Christmas cards.

SkylersDad - It's a saying that is used on occasion. I only wish I would have uttered the whole phrase:

"I've got skills. They're ugly but they're deadly."

It's a phrase all men should have in their arsenal. I'm certain the child was all set to mock me if I tripped, so I had to proclaim victory.

So. Cal. Gal said...

Well, it's a seriously gorgeous picture. : )