Mt. Rushmore (cont.), Crazy Horse, Devil's Tower

Trip Start May 19, 2013
Trip End Jul 03, 2013

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Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Friday, June 28, 2013

Today we had the motel's continental breakfast (adequate) and then loaded up and headed back up to Mt. Rushmore to see it in morning daylight (rather than twilight). This was on the route to our next stop, the Crazy Horse Memorial, anyway.

We took a few more pictures of Mt. Rushmore from a distance (in the town of Keystone) and part way up the road to the memorial. Once we got to the memorial, we decided to go back in (our parking pass is good until the end of the calendar year!) to take a look at the museum, the gift shop, and to take a few more pictures. Before leaving we decided to take the "Presidential Walk", a 0.6 mile path that loops from the Grand Balcony (at the top of the amphitheater) around the back of the amphitheater stage at the base of the talus pile underneath the sculpture, to the Sculptor's Studio, and back to the Grand Balcony. This was a fairly quick walk and provided some very different (up close and way below) perspectives of the sculpture. The Sculptor's Studio had some very interesting displays, including a 1:12 model of the original "vision" for Mt. Rushmore (the final sculpture is actually quite different -- considerably less ambitious).

We left Mt. Rushmore for the short drive to the Crazy Horse Memorial. There we saw the work in progress and compared it to some models of the envisioned final product. We also watched a 20-minute movie about the history of the project and some of the factors that are affecting its progress. I was impressed by the sheer size of the sculpture (so much larger than Mt. Rushmore) and depressed by how much is left to be done. At the present rate, it certainly will not be completed in our lifetimes... We did see activity on the sculpture -- some people up on Crazy Horse's arm and a bulldozer working down below. All in all, this wasn't nearly as impressive as Mt. Rushmore to me, maybe because of my heritage, maybe because they just have so much more to do compared to what appears to have been done in the last 66 years since the project was started.

We moved on to the town of Custer where we gassed up the Prius and bought some burgers (plus sweet potato fries, drinks, and peach cobbler and bread pudding for dessert) to take to a picnic spot for lunch. The burgers were from the "Black Hills Burger and Buns Co." and were the daily special, the "Some Like It Hot" burger. We left town heading for I-90 and soon stopped at a National Forest campground (Comanche Park) and "borrowed" an unoccupied campsite for about a half hour to have our lunch. The burgers were delicious.

Our original plan was to drive from the Crazy Horse Memorial to Buffalo, WY to spend the night. However, a day or two ago Ruth suggested it might be fun to go up and see Devil's Tower (of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" fame) as it was only about 35 miles northeast of where we join up with I-90. We went ahead and did this -- it took about an hour and a half, but it was well worth it. There was some nice scenery along the way and Devil's Tower is just so dang big, all there by itself. Seeing it from afar, or in photos, or in movies is just no comparison to being there right at the base of it and looking up. There were allegedly some climbers on the rock, but we could not spot them (even with the 42x zoom on my camera). We did walk up the path to the base of the rubble pile, but did not take the path around the monolith -- maybe for another time...

After about a half hour, we left Devil's Tower, drove back to I-90, and headed west to Buffalo, WY where we had booked a room at the Wyo Motel for the night. The proprietor, after checking us in and in response to our question about a good place for dinner, recommended we have pork ribs at the Dash Inn Restaurant, which was right next door. We did this. They were indeed fall-off-the-bone delicious with a spot-on BBQ sauce. But, with the sides and the malts we both ordered, we returned to our room STUFFED. We spent the rest of the evening recovering, updating diaries, blogs, checking e-mail, etc. before retiring for the night.
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