…and we’re back, this time for really reals.
South Dakota was beautiful. The bed was uncomfortable, the hotel breakfast was lousy, and Betsy ended up sick for most of the week, but none of that was South Dakota’s fault. You stay classy, S.D.
Mount Rushmore was very nice, but there isn’t much to say about it. You know exactly what you’re going to get, and you get it. Are you expecting giant presidents in a mountain? Then you won’t be disappointed.
Nah, I shouldn’t be so snarky. It really is a handsome and elegant monument. Go see it if you get the chance.
The same day as Rushmore, we stopped at nearby Reptile Gardens, which has the largest crocodile in North America (“Maniac”), enough poisonous snakes to fell a herd of yak, and our friend the eagle up there. In the upcoming feature film to be based on our adventures, the eagle will be played by Patrick Stewart.
Next day we visited the Chapel in the Hills. This remarkable church is an exact replica of a thousand-year-old chapel in Norway. We took our time, walked all around it and inside, and even followed the path in the woods out back. The weather was perfect and the setting was idyllic. A peaceful place. Might have been my favorite part of the entire trip.
The Crazy Horse memorial was…interesting. The white statue shows what they’re planning, while the mountain in the background is the progress they’ve made so far. If completed, it would be the largest statue in the world, dwarfing our Fab Four above. Now, they’ve been working on this thing for over fifty years already, so don’t hold your breath, but you’ve got to admire the ambition. Part of me thinks that if I come back in another fifty years, they just might have it done.
Of course, opinions vary among the Lakota on whether a white guy dynamiting one of their sacred mountains really “honors” anybody, least of all Crazy Horse, but no need to mention that on the post card.
Devil’s Tower is actually in Wyoming, but we’ll give it a pass. I hiked all the way around this bad boy (a surprisingly short walk), making friends with a large snake on the way. It’s the core of an ancient volcano, left behind after the rest had eroded into oblivion. As with so much else out West, pictures don’t do justice to the sheer size and grandeur of the thing.
Finally, we spent two days exploring Badlands National Park. We saw prairie dogs, a fox, several rams, and a whole lot of rock. Not as many hiking trails as we expected, but the scenery more than made up for it.
So, that’s that. What have you been up to for the past week?
Nice over view. The Black Hills remain one of my all time favorite vacations. I stopped by there for 2 days on my way to Yellowstone NP, intrigued, I went back for 2 weeks the following Summer.
I can understand. It’s a beautiful place. If half our team hadn’t been sick that week, we would have done a lot more hiking.