Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mount Rushmore and More

Disclosure: The blog you are about to read may be take awhile to read!! :)

About the first of September, after I had just gotten back into the swing of getting back to work, Larry says to me, "I have quite a bit of vacation time that I need to take before the end of the year or I'll lose it." I say back to him, "Larry, I just had a whole summer off, why are you telling me this now!" :) Well, anyway, we started looking for a time that we could go on a little trip and use some vacation time. Since I had UEA convention coming up, I decided I could use that time to go with Larry on a little trip. We wrote down a lot of things that we would like to do, some which were not feasable for October. Anyway to make a long story short, we decided on Mount Rushmore. I had been there on a trip with my sister, Marla, and Mom and Dad back in 1992 and Larry hadn't been there before so we thought that it would be fun. Since it was only about a 11 hour drive (we did it in less) that it would be a good one to do with a 4 day trip. We took off about 6:30 Thursday morning and were there about 4:30. So we got to our hotel in Keystone, SD, which is a small little town a couple of miles from Rushmore, and got unpacked. Then we decided to find a place where we could eat. The bad thing about goint in October is that Keystone pretty much shuts down the first of October. There were about 4 places that we could go to eat. We chose a place called Rubies, which looked like it had been an old hotel on main street. I just realized I didn't take any pictures of main street. It's a pretty typical gold rush old town. Early Thursday morning we got up and headed up to Mt. Rushmore. It is a pretty awesome sight to see coming up the mountain. I'm not sure where I learned this, but I learned that Mt. Rushmore was named that long before the Presidents faces were carved in there. From my understanding there was a man from back east by the name of Rushmore that asked the local folks what they called that mountain over there. They told them didn't have any idea, so why don't we just call it Rushmore, and the name stuck. While there we went on a hike with a ranger, which brought us up close and personal with the monument and then on around to the sculptor's studio. Which was interesting to learn all the things they did to keep the perspective of what they were carving into the rock. We also went to the visitors center and watched a little short video while we there too. We spent the day there until a little after 1:00 or so. Then we decided to go and see a few more side trips around Keystone. We decided to go out to a cave called Rushmore Cave and also to see an old Gold Mine called Thunder Mountain Gold Mine. The cave was okay nothing extra special. It did have a few stalagmites and stalitites, but it was enjoyable none the less. The gold mine was interesting because Keystone came to be because of mining. There was one big mine there that was called The Holy Terror that put out a ton of money in gold. This one that we went through put out very little, but it was interesting to hear the history. I also got a piece of ore from the mine.. what do you think my chances are of finding any gold in it.. I'm thinking none. :) We also found out this old school house is haunted, at least so they say. They told us it was on the registry for haunted places and that ghost hunters had been there and had a male voice on tape. They told us that he likes to move the things around on the school desks in there...but we didn't hear anything while we were there. :)Friday evening we found another place that was still open to eat, which was good. Then we hung out in the hotel for a little while waiting for the sun to go down, then we headed back up to Mt. Rushmore to see it all lit up at night. Got a few more pictures. Saturday morning we got up had a little breakfast at the Holiday Inn (by the way they are pretty good) at headed off on our next adventure. We decided to make it a day trip and do a drive. There is a beautiful drive coming in or going out of Keyston on Hwy 16A which is called Iron Mountain Road. It is one drive I wouldn't miss. I remembered it from 18 years ago and was so glad that we we went on it. You go through a beautiful scenic view of winding roads, going through great tunnels through the mountain and over wonderful old wooden bridges that you go over and then make the turn all the way around to go under it. I thought it was great fun and so enjoyable. Also going through the tunnels... I don't know if they planned it or not, but at the end of the tunnel you can see Mt. Rushmore right through it. Very cool.

After making it to the top of that climb. We stopped at the top and got out at a view area that was named after a Govenor of S. Dakota, Peter Norbeck, I took a little video of the view from up there which has Mount Harney, one of the highest peaks in the area and some rock formations they call Cathedral Spires.
Then on we went to a loop they call Wildlife Look in Custer State Park. Right inside the park we stopped at a little visitor's center named after Peter Norbeck and while we were there we got our first look at the many animals we would see on this loop. I have so many pictures so I'll just try to share a few of my favorites.

Next we left the loop for a little while and headed down Hwy 87 to Wind Cave National Park to go through a cave called what else...but Wind Cave. It's named for the changes of the wind that come in or out of the cave due to barometric pressure. There is one natural opening to the cave, which I'm very happy I didn't have to go through. As you see the ranger with the ribbon standing right by it. The wind was coming from the cave as you can see. We entered the cave by a revolving door and it was all down hill from there.. :) 450 steps I think, or something like that. I was happy to ride the elevator back up. One thing cool about this cave is that it doesn't have dripping water much so we didn't see the usual stalagmites or stalactites. It has an interesting formations that are called popcorn, frostwork and boxork on the ceilings. I hope that you'll be able to see it in some of the pictures.

After the cave tour we headed back up to finish the wildlife tour and to drive on a Hwy called Needles Hwy., another beautiful scenic drive. Towards the end of the Hwy. is a rock tunnel only 8 ft. wide and a cool rock formation that looks like it is the eye of a needle. And then it was on back to Keystone. It was a bit of a long but beautiful drive and some fun stops along the way.

After we got back home we found one of the two restaraunts we had not been to yet and went to dinner. Sunday morning was checkout and so we got up and had another good breakfast and then headed off for home, with one more stop on the way. We went to Crazy Horse Memorial, which is a way of the indian people showing that they two had great people and they especially wanted it in their Black Hills. This project has been going a long time itself and will be much larger than the Presidents at Rushmore. I'm not sure when they will finish it but when it is through it will be a site to behold.

Then off it was for our drive home. I have to say Wyoming is nothing great to see as you cross it. There are a few other things I would of liked to have done on this trip, like go up to see Devil's Tower in Wyoming and stop again at Martin's Cove...but time didn't allow it on this trip. I guess it means we'll have to do it again sometime. What a great vacation!!!