Monday, June 2, 2014

Westward Ho! (Day Four)

by Pa Rock
Wagon Master

Five hundred miles today - including some backtracking.  The oxen aren't the only ones who are worn out.  I feel like I could sleep for a week!  We are camped at a Super 8 in Hill City, South Dakota, just down the road from Mount Rushmore.

We were at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, this morning before most decent people had their second cup of coffee.  It it a large old auditorium covered in corn and other vegetative matter.  The unique old building is also the town's civic center where basketball games and other activities are held.  I heard on their kick-ass oldies radio station that Tommy James and the Shondells will perform at the Corn Palace next week.

Mitchell, South Dakota, is also the hometown of former presidential contender, George McGovern.

For lunch we stopped at a facsimile 1888 town (another roadside attraction) that had many authentic (or authentic-looking) town buildings from the 1880's.  There was also a museum that contained numerous artifacts from the Kevin Costner movie, Dances with Wolves, which was filmed in several locations across South Dakota.  Our lunch was in the dining car of an old train.

The next stop was in the extraordinarily over-hyped Wall Drug.  I can't properly describe this commercial enterprise, but would recommend stopping there just for curiosity's sake.  You can't miss it - there are road signs for about five hundred miles in every direction.

Speaking of road signs, there is apparently a winery in Rapid City, South Dakota, called the Fire House.  We saw four different billboards for it, and each had an authentic old firetruck sitting out by the advertisements.  Two of the signs were within about a mile of each other.  They do get your attention, and I guess that is the point.

Immediately after leaving Wall Drug we drove through the Badlands - about a thirty mile loop.  That preserve forms another "must see" for anyone venturing out west.  Boone, who has never been in this part of the country before, was especially impressed with the Badlands.

Our final two stops were at the Crazy Horse Memorial where Crazy Horse and his war pony are slowly being carved into a mountain - and Mount Rushmore.    There had been a little progress on the Crazy Horse mountain carving since my last visit twenty years ago - very little.  But the museum was impressive.  The memorial donates scholarship money to many local Indian youth.

Mount Rushmore is as impressive as ever.

I have a national park pass for seniors that I bought last year at the Grand Canyon National Park for only ten dollars.  The lady who sold it to me said that it would be good an any national park forever - I could enter free and so could any passengers in my vehicle.  The pass got us into the Badlands without any problem, but their was an issue at Mount Rushmore.  There visitors must pay to park (a pricey eleven dollars) - but entry to the park is then free.  I think that is a racket - and I blame Orange John Boner!

Early tomorrow we will head out across Wyoming - if the oxen are willing and the creeks don't rise!

No comments: