Sunday, July 30, 2017

Attitude Adjustment Trip II

The hubby and I severely needed an attitude adjustment and we decided to run away and go see some sights, none of which I had seen before, some of which he had not seen, and some he was excited to share with me. I'm posting one day of the trip each day. I'm writing this mostly for me, as sort of a journal. You're welcome to read if you are interested in comments and pictures, though!

Day 2

Mount Rushmore

As I mentioned in part 1, we spent the night in Rapid City.  We were able to grab a great breakfast across the street from the hotel and then back track about 20 miles to Mount Rushmore. I'm so glad we stopped the night before, because the feeling was entirely different the during the day! 

We had decided it would probably save us some money, plus add incentive to get out a bit more if we bought the National Park annual pass. I think this turned out to be a good idea, even though Mt. Rushmore is a "free" park, you need to pay for parking, because apparently that is a private enterprise.  We hit the bookstore that was close to the entrance and got the self tour radios. All throughout the park there are little signs with a number. You punch the number into the radio and it tells you about that area of the park.  There is another gift shop, a restaurant and an ice cream shop just before the Avenue of Flags.  There is also an amphitheatre, and a visitor's center with film presentations, another gift shop and also where you get your National Parks passport stamped.  One of the things that made me laugh was an item on the radio that said Gutzon Borglum would get impatient and fire people. His son would wait until the next day, then hire them all back.

When we were there the night before, the hubs said he didn't remember any of the buildings at the entrance. As we looked in the bookstore, there were signs saying that the Avenue of Flags and other areas were added during the bicentennial celebration. Since he was a little kid when he was there, that was why! They weren't there when he was there last. 

When I looked at the google page for Rushmore and Crazy Horse the reviews they had that said most people spend 1/2 hour here (Crazy Horse) and 1.5 hours here (Rushmore). HA!! We spent at least 2.5 at Crazy Horse (could have spent more) and probably 3.5 or so hours at Rushmore (again could have spent more). 
The amphitheatre. Why are my pictures always at an angle?

At Rushmore there are two trails where you can walk around the monument at Rushmore. We took the shorter, "easier" path. This takes you on a circular path right up to the base of the mountain and around past where the old compressor is housed, and the sculpture studio where information on the Hall of Records (not open to the public) is found and a sculpture of the original concept of  what the mountain was supposed to look like. All of the following pictures were taken during that walk. 

Through the "porthole" view

Amazed at the detail on Teddy's glasses

Close up of the detail in Washington's eye

Part of the walk with platforms

Very smoky from fires but I wanted a pic of the landscape

The original compressor

The original concept for the mountain

One thing you notice about this area, is that the mica, iron pyrite and I think feldspar, make up a huge percentage of all the rock in the area. I wish this picture captured the sparkle. You saw sunlight reflected from every angle. This is at the start of the trail.

Devils Tower Monument

Then we hopped back into the car for the drive to Devils Tower Monument. Like I said, the skies were very smokey, due to the Lodge Pole fire (among others). So it made our first view of the monument a little ethereal.

I took a gazillion photos of the tower. There is just something different every time you look at it, it even has a slight curve from one angle.

As you come into the park, there are signs asking you not to feed the prairie dogs. They are everywhere! The road was lined with cars taking pictures.

I wasn't sure how close you could get to the tower, but apparently, if you get the appropriate permits, you can actually climb it! We opted for a short visit in the small visitor's center then hiked about 1/3 of the way around the tower. 

The rocks at the base are huge. Again, hard to stop taking pictures of this thing, especially with all of the birds of prey circling the top. We wondered if they were playing in the air currents.

You can almost see the curve in this pic

This is a site that is sacred to the Native American people. There is a sign asking you to respect and not touch the prayer bundles and prayer ties that you would see. I took some pictures of them, I found them fascinating and beautiful. I mean no disrespect by publishing them here, but my heart broke when I saw a blue one, then through the zoom lens figured out that it was a stuffed animal, presumably, this prayer was on behalf of a child. I have to find some time to research these a little more.

The view from the trail overlooking the valley below was beautiful. We captured some deer resting peacefully just off the cliff.

Deer, turkeys and antelope, oh my! And chasing the Montana Sunset

We knew we had quite a ways to drive after this. The hubs had brought along his 10 year old Garmin for use in case we didn't have cell coverage. I had downloaded the map we would need to my phone the night before and "Lola" (from the movie RV) and my phone started arguing.  From the map it looked like she wanted us to back track quite a ways, so after some discussion we decided to go with my phone's map. Hehehe. Lola got VERY upset with us, and tried to get us to make a U-turn for something like the next 100 miles, telling us "A better route is available". We would just start laughing with every comment from her.  You could just hear the scorn in her voice, lol! Well... dang it. She may have been right. We ended up on a two lane highway at dusk and deer coming at us from every angle on both sides of the road. At one turn in the road, we even came up on a FLOCK of turkeys in the middle of the road! Then the antelope put in their appearance.  We figured it might have meant a bit of back tracking, but it may have been a better freeway. We went through construction zones, rainstorms and what have you, and after we got into Montana, we were chasing the most beautiful sunset. Now, we had been through the whole bug windshield suicide thing, and we didn't pull over to take these pictures, so excuse the bug smeared window. Dang, it was beautiful!

We made it to Hardin, about 15 miles past Little Big Horn (which was our next stop) a little after 11:00 p.m. again. Again, just a wonderful day!

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