Lusk, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands

Trip Start Sep 02, 2009
Trip End Oct 01, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Thursday, September 17, 2009

The morning of the 19th, we woke up hungry and ready for breakfast. The proprietor of the Trail Motel recommended going to the local truck stop called The Outpost for breakfast. I guess we didn't fit in with the local crowd because everyone turned their heads when we walked in. After having a nice greasy breakfast, we were back on the road- only 2 ˝ hours away from Mt. Rushmore National Monument. We arrived around 12:30 p.m. and took the ranger guided tour where we learned about the artist Gutzon Borglum, the history behind the monument, as well as the significance behind the presidents we stood there in awe over. We learned that President Washington was originally going to be the central focus with Jefferson to his left and Lincoln to his right, but the rock ended up dictating the order and number of presidents Borglum would sculpt. Washington (our 1st president, for those of you who might be rusty in the subject of US history) ended up being on the left followed by Jefferson (our 3rd), Roosevelt (our 23rd), and Lincoln (our 16th). The monument was completed in 1941 after 14 years of construction and a 400 hundred man crew who blasted through the Harney granite rock with dynamite and 30 to 60 lb. jackhammers to create their masterpiece (surprisingly there were no casualties). Unfortunately, Borglum died before seeing his project complete. Mt. Rushmore is important to the American people. It serves as a symbol of democracy. Borglum carefully picked each president for his monument. Washington is considered our nation’s father. Although he was a military man for much of his life, Washington was a man who loved peace. He was unanimously voted to be our nation’s first president. Although Washington could have easily served a third term due to his popularity, he firmly believed that a president should not have so much power…..

After leaving Mt. Rushmore we stopped in Keystone for lunch. Then we hit the road. It was a couple hour drive to Badlands National Park. But before getting there, we just had to stop at Wall Drug. We saw hundreds of advertisements for it on the side of the road and on the numerous fields we passed. I had also heard about it from my neighbors Kay and Keith at Chrisman’s Marina and read about it in my book Road Trip USA. Wall Drug began in 1931. Trying to bring business to his small business in the small and flat broke town of wall, Ted Hustead and his wife give free ice water to travelers on the 16A to attract them to their store. It all started with these signs that said: "Get a soda…Get root beer… turn the next corner…just as near…to highway 16 and 14…free ice water…Wall Drug.“ Before they knew it they had people lined out there door. The signs had worked! Today Wall Drug is huge. They have a café (where the coffee is still only 5 cents), an art gallery, a photo gallery, numerous souvenir shops, western clothing shops, and a yard that is full of all kind of amusements, including a giant Jackalope (a mythical creature of the Great Plains), a gorilla that plays the piano, a T-Rex, etc…It was a really fun stop. Janis and I had to have a cup of the 5 cents coffee. When we finally arrived at Badlands National Park, the sun was starting to set, which was fortunate and unfortunate all at once. The sun setting behind the strange and awesome stone structures was amazing, but once the sun went down we could no longer admire the landscape before us. We got to our campsite after ranger hours so we had to use an automated system to check in. Fires are prohibited in the Badlands so we made a nice big salad to eat for dinner. It was nice to camp somewhere where we weren’t freezing in the middle of the night.
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