. The colors of the hills and the formations were breath-taking, it was amazing just to drive through and it made both of us realize that we need to go back sometime to explore this beautiful place in more depth. From there we were onward to Mount Rushmore. We proceeded to take another random stop at the highly publicized Wall Drug. There were so many people there and no road signage at intersections; I can't believe people don't get run over on a daily basis; we didn't bother parking. We moved on to Mount Rushmore assuming we would get into all national monuments for free with our annual pass, but no, you have to pay $10 for parking!!! A total scam and no way to get around it!! The sculpture was amazing but this made us scared that crazy horse and Jewel Cave would be the same. Unfortunately we were correct in our assumptions about Crazy Horse, but you can get away with pictures without paying; if we did want to see the visitors center, it would have been $10 a person!!! Seriously South Dakota? After taking pictures of the still unfinished Crazy Horse Mountain, we made our way to Jewel Cave, only to find that it was not an open cave, but one where you have to take a tour, which they book in advance and they were all sold out. This was our fault for not doing any research, but it does make us miss the free spelunking at the Ape Caves in Mount St. Helens National Monument. Today we saw our first Washington license plates, so at a gas stop after Jewel Cave we washed the window paint off; it took a bit of adjustment to stop jumping to wave at every passing car
. After having a kind of off-putting day, we made the decision to go to see Devil's Tower which was 28 miles out of our way, but we figured nothing could make the day worse and it was highly recommended by our Uncle Alan. It turned out to be the other high point of our day along with the Badlands and the corn palace. It was an amazing structure formed by lava being thrust up through the earth, cooling, and then the earth around it eroded away. We took too many pictures, including a ton of the huge prairie dog colony along side the park road. After Devil's Tower, it was back to I-90 for the rest of our trip home, with no planned detours. We made it just short of the Montana border in Sheridan, Wyoming.
...with a camera that is. Prepare for the randomness. Our first stop: the corn palace. It was a diversion we decided on last minute; it was free, just off the road, and sounded pretty corny (just up our alley). It was in the middle of a smallish town that was almost totally centered on the corn palace. By all accounts, it is a normal building, but a good portion of it is covered with plywood that corn/grass murals are stapled to. The theme of the palace this year was vacation destinations from all over the USA; the three featured panels were Cape Canaveral (space shuttle), New York (Statue of Liberty), and can you believe it, the SEATTLE SPACE NEEDLE!! Anyway, we went inside and we looked at corn palaces over the years in the pictures they had hung on the wall. There were more pictures inside made of corn and all along the sides of the building. Our next stop was Badlands National Park, where we had been instructed to stop, even though we were wondering what could possibly be there... It was AMAZING!! It looked like we were in Southern Utah for the second time on our trip