We spent Tuesday with the Presidents — all 44 of them by the end of the day.
We started the day at Devils Tower, about an hour north of Gillette, Wyo. An impressive rock formation that stands 865 feet tall and 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. The top of the tower is the size of a football field. It’s was named the nation’s first national monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. While we were there we saw three climbers who were about three-quarters to the top about 9:30 a.m. There is a fee to climb (sorry don’t know this amount) and there are about 5,000 climbers per year from 20 different countries. One of them won’t be me. Scott had a good friend — Jimmy Davis — who would have loved the climb, but he died in an ice climbing accident March 7, 2002, in Canada. Park fee is $10 per car. Gas in Gillette was $2.73.
From Devils Tower we headed to Keystone, S.D. where you will find Mt. Rushmore 2 miles from town. You can see Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln from the road before you get there, which is impressive. Seeing this monument up close in the park is awe inspiring. I’ve always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore and it more than exceeded my expectations. Attach the 300 lens and you can get up close and personal with the quartet. Fee is $10 per car. Gas is $2.94 in Keystone, but then again it is a tourist destination. Just down the road in Rapid City gas was $2.73 and in Custer it was $2.69.
From Mt. Rushmore, we headed to see the Crazy Horse monument. Here, the price was $10 per person or $27 per carload. This is a private monument, not government funded, which I think explains the price. The part that is finished was cool, there was a lot of Indian artifacts and the are was very nice, but for the money, I expected a little bit more. Still glad we stopped to see it. As with Mt. Rushmore, having a large lens is a must if you want to come home with photos that have images larger than a quarter in the middle of them.
Needles Hwy. was next on our list of things to do. A windy road through Custer National Forest. It was a $15 fee for a pass that was good for a week. This was a surprise fee. I had read a lot about the road, the rock formations you see, but nothing about the fee. Such is life. There is a a big rock that has a slit in it like a sewing needle, there is the Cathedral of Spires and others. You also pass through a few tunnels that are one car wide. On the last one — Tunnel 5 — a tour bus from Wisconsin broke a side mirror and three back windows on the bus trying to go through. The brochure said the tunnel was only about 8 feet wide. I can’t believe the park rangers let the bus go through. Hope they have good insurance. On our way back around, we got to see just the profile of Washington — that was cool.
From there, it was back to Keystone and the Presidential Wax Museum. All 44 of them, with President Obama to greet you. It was $44 for the three of us — the lady considered Kyle an adult even though he is a student. She apparently didn’t want to believe me and I wasn’t going to argue. There were wands that when you pushed appropriate numbers, a lady would tell you all about that president. It was informative and I like wax museums. When we came out of the museum, it was starting to rain. Hope to do Holy Terror mini golf on the way home.
And rain it did. It came down in buckets. Most of the way to Mitchell, S.D. A trip that should have taken 3 hours took 5. There were points where our wiper blades were moving faster than we were. According the weather, in certain places it rained more than 3 inches. There was plenty of lightning to go with the rain. Between Rapid City and Mitchell, there are a bunch of tiny towns, with one, Chamberlain, that had gas for $2.59. The distribution costs can’t be more than at home. Maybe our state leaders should take a trip to South Dakota and see how things are done. We got here late, so I put this off until this morning.
Today, it is the Corn Palace here in Mitchell, then off to Sioux City and finally Waterloo, Iowa. A much shorter day than the last two.