After waking up super early and super cold from camping, Lee and me got going to spot one of the most recognizable national monuments. Everyone knows of Mt. Rushmore, but not everyone knows where it is, or the story behind it. I have my quarrels about Mt. Rushmore, I do enjoy the place greatly but having been very interested in Native American tribes and cultures growing up, I kinda am annoyed that this monument to our presidents are showcased in the black hills, the site of a great debate between the US and the Sioux in the 1800's... you know Custer's last stand, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse. Anyway... I digress. I do enjoy the story of the men that helped build these faces out of a side of mountain, and I greatly enjoy that it was never fully completed. It has an atelier quality to it. Gutzon Borglum was the sculptor behind the project and decided on which presidents should be shown, Washington, the father of our country, Jefferson the writer of the declaration, Lincoln the emancipator of the slaves, and the more confusing one to some, Teddy Roosevelt, the leader in conservation of our country's natural wonders. As a quote from Borglum states "The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt." It is a beautiful place of art and even though Lee and I weren't able to go to the museum there I highly recommend it. Anyway, Mt. Rushmore is outside of Keystone, SD and along the Needles highway, a beautiful scenic hairpin turn road.
After marveling at our past presidents, Lee and I took to the road and did the long Needles Highway loop in Custer State Park. It was really fun going thru the tunnels and slowly going down mountain sides but at the end of the couple hour drive Lee and I were both feeling dizzy from all the loops and switchbacks...
Before heading out after the Needles Loop, we had a bite to eat in Keystone, outside of Rushmore. Its a great little western town in the mountains, they even had a cowboy show every hour!
On the way back to the highway we stopped in the city of Deadwood. I can't believe how large and how well preserved the downtown is. Deadwood was a boom town funded by gold mining in the Black Hills, but it was also the home of some of the most infamous names in cowboy history. The cemetery in town is the resting place to such famous westerners as Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickok, Seth Bullock, Potato Creek Johnny, and some great outlaws of the west. The entire town is a National Registered Landmark and is slowly being restored to a frontier town, with plenty of gambling and booze. haha. Lee and I walked up and down the streets stretching our legs before heading to Wyoming and Devils Tower.
And so we ended our day driving thru the country side where out of the blue the Devils Tower appears in the landscape. We set up our tent and enjoyed a beer outside the majesty of the inside of the volcano... and of course every night the KOA there plays Close Encounters, it was out of this world... hahah.
Till next day
photos by leyland and I