Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
The drive from Chicago to Rapid City, South Dakota was a grueling 13 hours. And that only includes the time we were actually in the car. Greg and I got a quick workout in at the hotel in Chicago before resigning ourselves to the fact that we would be unable to move much for the duration of the day. We left Chicago around 11am.
We drove through Wisconsin, where apparently the left lane is is preferred to the right even if the people on the right are passing you. Constantly. We drove through Minnesota, where people really do have that strong mid-western accent and the landscape is flatter than even Pennsylvania's farm landscape. Something, as a Pennsylvanian, I did not think possible. We finally got to South Dakota which is a very, very, very big, very empty state. Again, South Dakota was fairly flat and dark until we got closer to Rapid City at around 2am local time. (At one point, my computer, fit bit and phone all said different times due to the number of time zones we had driven through). We pulled into our KOA (campsite) and realized that the bag on top of our car that was carrying some of our belongings had ripped. Luckily, we only lost two sleeping bags and nothing super expensive or irreplaceable. I like to picture the sleeping bags flying off the top of the car in the pitch black South Dakota night and us being totally ignorant to the whole ordeal. I also like to think that maybe someone found them who can use them.
We decided to deal with the crisis in the morning. We called every auto, camping, outdoor store in Rapid City (which was actually quite a lot considering we were in the middle of South Dakota) to buy a hard top clam shell to replace our ripped bag. We called Walmart, Target, Cabela's. We. Called. Everyone. No luck. Sears finally told us that they used to carry them until they're auto section had gone under (RIP Sears) and suggested another store that neither of us had heard of. Hallelujah! So we had to spend a bit of money and in the middle of the parking lot move all of our stuff into our new overhead container but - what can you do! And, Greg will sleep easier now knowing that our gas mileage can go back up. ("Kelly, this bag is killing our gas mileage" is something I was very tired of hearing. And it had only been 2 drives.)
We drove the short drive from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore. I wasn't sure what to expect.
Again, like the bean in Chicago I had heard it was something you should see but no one ever seemed to be incredibly impressed by it. Well- except us. I mean, this thing was constructed in 1927. Picture that. 1927. Charles Lindburg made the first ever transatlantic flight in 1927. Cars were a novelty in 1927. To carve FOUR HUGE faces into the side of a MOUNTAIN in 1927 is pretty freaking impressive if you ask me. There is also a good size amphitheater right below the monument which would be pretty cool for a concert or event I imagine. We marveled in the construction of something so great for a while, me talking about my qualms with the choice of faces on the mountain, spouting my historical nerdness. (If you interested in my views on the presidents on the monument, feel free to contact me for a free history lesson). And yes, we're wearing our matching "Dream Team" Mount Rushmore shirts.
There isn't much else to do at the monument so after our marveling and my spouting, we headed to the Crazy Horse Monument. A Native American monument memorializing Crazy Horse, the great warrior who took on the Americans for trying to take the native land. It will be even bigger than Mount Rushmore when it's finished. The monument was started in 1948 and is no where near completion. They are funded solely on donations and admission to the monument taking no money from the Federal or State Government. To be fair, the governments did take their land and kill their people ...so I could see why they want to go this alone.
So a day of history and monuments and it was on to Yellowstone. A short 6 hours and 30 minutes from Mount Rushmore! The drive was easy. Route 16 is a strange road, the only road out here really, that goes from 80mph of highway and nothingness into small towns slowing abruptly to 25 mph. The landscape of Wyoming is one of the most beautiful things I've seen. The color of the mountains, the sunsets, the creeks, the snow still on the mountaintops even in July. As we were driving along, we saw a sign for "Ten Sleep Brewery". We stopped of course to check it out and discovered that there was a whole rock climbing festival happening. We hung out, walked around for about an hour to check it out and then hopped back into the car to finish out our drive to Yellowstone. I am excited to see what else Wyoming has to offer, considering just driving through it made us stop to take pictures.
Throughout the last day or so of driving, Greg and I stop to take pictures of something amazing only for it to be not as amazing in the photo. We can’t capture what we felt when we decided to pull out the camera in the first place. Similarly, we went to Mount Rushmore having seen the monument in books and on T.V. since we were kids. But there was something about being there. Seeing it through own own eyes instead of someone else’s lens, that makes it indescribably different and that much more amazing.
And we're off for a few days of hiking and exploring Yellowstone!
More Pictures of the amazing monument and some Wyoming landscape!
|This is the scaled version of what Crazy Horse will look like one day|
|Green Giant in|