Saturday, June 16, 2007

South Dakota

...after leaving Chimney Rock we headed out through the Black Hills (they looked more like mountains to me) of South Dakota-it was truly gorgeous scenery. The drive was lengthy, but interesting, and after arriving in Keystone, SD-a really cute little western town where we spent two evenings I decided to head over to Mount Rushmore 'just to see it.' I planned on driving by-but ended up driving into the park-where it just so happened they were going to have their evening lighting ceremony, which I had thought sounded pretty interesting when we were researching each site before the trip. We grabbed a quick dinner at the restaurant at the monument and then headed out for the story behind the monument, and the selection process that went into decided whose face would be carved in stone. It was pretty cool, and I was actually more impressed with Mount Rushmore than I thought I would be. I was looking forward to seeing it because it seemed like it was something 'worth visiting' once, but it was a lot larger, and a lot prettier than I thought-I had also heard previously that it was built in that particular location to draw people to the area, and I think the whole area has enough beauty and charm to tempt people without the monument, but the monument was really cool too and is an extra bonus. The next morning we headed back up to the monument for another look, and we took a trail under the monument to get some unusual views, and we got a little exercise via stairs before heading out towards Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse was interesting because it's a work in progress, but other than that-it was a little too pricey to really do more than 'glance' at it, so we headed back towards Keystone, by way of Custer State Park. We took the 'short loop' through the park and bipasssed the area that the animals were supposed to be grazing at that time, but we happened along a small cluster of buffalos-which was pretty exciting. To my knowledge I had never seen a buffalo before (except on the occasional menu option)-and we weren't expecting to see any on that day. After the buffalo we ran across a 'donkey jam' 25+ donkeys had stopped traffic and a lot of people had hopped out to pet the wild donkeys. Monkey see-monkey do=Holly and I joined the herd and petted the donkeys and their cute little babies. They seemed more interested in food and kept sticking their heads in the windows of the cars looking for some snacks. We headed back to town through winding mountains (some might call hills?) sheer drops, one lane tunnels and one really breathtaking view of Mount Rushmore from a distance...and some rain). Once back in town we ate, shopped, rested, ate and then slept to begin the journey again the next day.