Saturday, July 23, 2011
It’s been a few days, so we wanted to keep you all up-to-speed on our progress. Pictures will be included! Without processing the photos on my iMac, however, you won’t be able to appreciate the scenery as we have.
Having headed out of Denver at around 1:00 pm on Wednesday (20th), we traveled through some National Grasslands (nothing to see but…grass) and ended up staying at the Hilltop Motel in Newcastle Wyoming (just outside of the Black Hills). This place wasn’t really on top of a hill, but it did look out on the train tracks. Other than the mice that most certainly shared our room and the bathroom sink that was about to fall off the wall and the carpet that may or may not have been vacuumed in months and the shower that was seemingly made for the Oompah Loompahs (or their cousins the Munchins), the room wasn’t a complete disaster—it had free Internet! :-) And even though we half expected some crazed in-bred hillbilly clan to kick in the door and start chopping us up to make us into homemade beef jerky (yes, we’ve seen some great movies in the past!), we slept okay. Having already paid the nice lady running this luxurious establishment we headed up to Devil’s Tower early the next morning.
Devil’s Tower, as many of you know, was the supposed location of Steven Spielberg’s film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. The movie was great and viewing the landmark as we drove towards it was pretty cool. Devil’s Tower was “The first declared United States National Monument, established on September 24, 1906 by President Roosevelt.” (I packed our brochures so I just “googled” this information while Cindy is driving us through the beautiful farm lands of Minnesota on the way to St. Paul) We actually thought the monument would be larger; though it was very large and impressive. I suppose thinking back on the movie it just seemed to be more massive than it really is. As you can see, we took some photos at different points on the way.
From here we began traveling through the Black Hills and ended up at Deadwood. This was the old western town that Wild Bill Hickok made famous by being killed in the saloon while playing poker. I think they made a movie out of this. This town is supposedly a “…careful, accurate restoration of a historically significant city.” Yes, “google” again! What it looked like to us was a more western looking Blackhawk/Central City. It seemed like practically every building was a Casino. I know they liked their gambling back in the “Old West”, but come on! Of course, now it is slot machines more than poker. Anyway, it was pretty cool to walk into the saloon that Wild Bill was gunned down in (they have the actual chair he was sitting in encased in glass up on the wall). They even had a Wild Bill look-a-like we could have our picture taken with…but Cindy was too chicken. Oh well, we had lunch there and enjoyed ourselves.
Next we were headed to see Crazy Horse! Yeah!!
The Crazy Horse Memorial was awesome! My photos obviously don’t do justice to the real thing. If this is completed in my lifetime, I will definitely go visit it again. Since the project is entirely funded by donations (keeping the gov’t out of the way; do you blame them?), the chances of it being finished any time soon are slim, but one never knows. We enjoyed this place very much and bought a couple of books. And no, I haven’t read them yet…but of course I’ve started them! :-)
Next up was Mount Rushmore via the Needles Highway (in Custer State Park). This was a beautiful drive (as was everywhere in Black Hills National Forest) that took us through “tunnels” that only one car could fit through at a time (hence “Needles”). This isn’t the only way to get to Mount Rushmore, but a couple of the six tunnels were blown through specifically to capture the view of Mount Rushmore. It was interesting to come around a curve and head into the tunnel with the President’s faces looking at us! Obviously I joined many fellow travelers who jumped out of our vehicles to take some snapshots. We didn’t go into the Mount Rushmore Park; the sight while driving closer and closer to it was spectacular enough. I really didn’t think I would have been so impressed with this Memorial since I had seen it on TV so many times, but actually having it jump out at you while driving gave it a perspective that I wasn’t anticipating. Quite a sight indeed!
After Mount Rushmore we decided to call it a day and headed up the road to Rapid City for the evening. No Hilltop Motel here, thankfully! We stayed at a very nice Holiday Inn-Express…and now we’re spoiled. On to The Badlands in the morning!
After a very relaxing dinner the night before and a very good night’s sleep, we headed off to The Badlands first thing in the morning. Wow! What an incredible place. I kept imagining the “Wild West” as we drove through. Again, the photos don’t do this place justice. We kind of wish we were here in the evening as opposed to the morning so that we would have seen the sunset out here. Many of the more spectacular professional photographs of The Badlands seem to capture the sun setting on the geological marvels throughout the Park. Oh well, it was still an incredible sight in the morning time. To see the prairie plains juxtaposed to the huge, cavernous rock formation (small canyon’s?) was truly an experience. I kept thinking about old Clint Eastwood westerns (John Wayne was before my time people! ) as we looked out over terrain. If we get back here sometime I will want to spend a few days camping and exploring.
That was about it for Friday. We enjoyed The Badlands and then drove through South Dakota on our way to Minnesota (where we are even now driving as I type this). We stopped for the evening on Friday outside of Sioux Falls and are currently headed to Minneapolis. At this point Cindy asks me to make a special prayer request for her. At this moment we are only on day four of our trip and Cindy has already had to correct me numerous times as to what day it is and how long we have been on the road. I don’t know how much of this (meaning me) she can take, so she asks you all to prayer for her patience as I succumb to “retiree syndrome” and lose track of what day of the week it is (and what we did on a particular day). Hopefully I won’t have to ask her what state we are in or she may leave me at rest area! :-)
We will be staying in Minneapolis for two days. We will be going to church in the morning and taking care of some things before heading up to the Upper Great Lakes for some more enjoyment of God’s beautiful creation…and each other!
We love you all!
Jj & cj