Tuesday, October 11, 2011

an Epic Road Trip...part one

I've been trying to figure out how to write about the road trip I went on without having it be too long or get too boring, and as a result, I've been home for almost two weeks and not a word has been written.
oops.

First of all, who went?  My mom and I.....
The plan 7 days, 5 states, 2 National Parks, 2 National Monuments and 1 State Park.....

and here we go,
Day one:  Drive from Salt Lake City to Keystone, South Dakota.  536 miles, most of it in Wyoming on state roads.  FYI, Wyoming has well maintained and easy to drive routes with amazing scenery.  We arrived in South Dakota early enough to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial before checking into our hotel.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is just outside Custer, South Dakota.  It is a privately funded project that has been under construction for over 50 years.  It's going to be massive when complete and is still impressive even though it's not done.  There is Native American museum and information center there as well.  It was very interesting and well worth the stop.

Day 2, Keystone, South Dakota.
Up early and off we went to Mount Rushmore.  It is simply inspiring and beautiful.  The beauty of those 4 faces in the granite is just amazing.  The photos don't really do it justice, but I tried....
We walked the President's Trail, which I think makes the visit and got a ton of information that we would of missed otherwise.  For instance, that is not Jefferson's original nose..it broke off and they had to do it.  Another fun fact, the monument is not completed in the way it was intended--the sculptor, Borglum, died in 1941 and his children didn't want anyone else to get credit, so they stopped construction.  Here is a photo of the 'small scale replica' (it's over 20 feet tall) that they used as a guide and you'll see what the original plan was.
If you look at the monument, you can see the beginnings of George's collar and coat.  If you travel to Mount Rushmore, don't miss the movies and the exhibits of the tools and gadgets they used to make it.  It's amazing.

In the afternoon, we continued onto Custer State Park about 20 minutes away.  It's a great state park!  I would of loved to of spent more time there hiking and just enjoying the scenery....
A deer I saw in a meadow.......
The burros, which make a trip to Custer mandatory..., they are hysterical.  It's one of the rare exception where you are allowed to feed the wildlife, so when you stop and if your windows are down, they just stick their heads in the car and hunt for food.  We knew ahead of time that you could feed them, so we were prepared, but were completely unprepared for how pushy they are.  It was hysterical.

Day Three:  Keystone, Hill City, and Deadwood South Dakota

It was a day to see what we had missed and to ride a train.  The 1800 Train is a bit of a movie and television star....if a train is in a Western, chances are, it's the 1800 Train.  It runs on old mining lines and goes from Keystone to Hill City.  It's a steam engine and one of the only ones of it's kind still running in the world.
After the train ride, we drove over to Deadwood and never even got out of the car.  Not being a big western fan, I didn't want to take a tour of the cemetery and the town is a series of casinos and bars.  Apparently during the summer, they have re-enactors of famous Deadwood characters on the streets, but after Labor Day, nope. 
One note about the Keystone, Mount Rushmore area, the crowds are gone after Labor Day, but a lot of the businesses and restaurants are also closed for the season, so be prepared.


Day Four, driving from Keystone, South Dakota to Cooke City, Montana....
What a long drive!!!!  Most of it on I-90, but it was long and straight until we got of the freeway in Billings, Montana, then the adventure began.  I'm getting ahead of myself, though, because before we reached Montana, we stopped in Wyoming and went to Devil's Tower National Monument.

My obnoxious photo of the trip..... The sign that say's Devils Tower is acutally the Devils Tower Trading Post Sign, I just framed it so that's all you can see.  :)
There is a trail that goes all around it and we took a break from driving to take it.  It's interesting to see it from another angle.  Funny tidbit, as we were walking around, every so often you could hear someone humming the Close Encounter music.  Sadly, I never saw an alien, however,  there were rock climbers all over the rock and very friendly prairie dogs, especially when people feed them contraband.

We also learned the Native American legend of Devil's Tower.  7 little girls were playing near their tribe when a bear came upon them.  Running and praying for help, the girls saw a rock in the area and ran to it and climbed onto it.  Praying still, the rock began to grow out of the ground keeping them safe from the bear.  The girls went all the way to the stars where they became the 7 sisters, or Pleiades.  When the Native American's told the story to an interpreter, there was a miss communication and Devils was substituted in.

Now, back to the drive, after turning off I-90 in Billings, we were back on state roads, completely unaware of what we were headed for...
BEARTOOTH PASS!!!!!!!  It's one of the highest roads in North America and a series of switchbacks.  If you are afraid of heights, like my mom, I wouldn't recommend this road.  She started leaning towards the middle of the car, because she was so afraid.  There are VERY steep drops and it's not a really wide road, but it really wasn't that hard of a drive.  My only problem was that I got laughing so hard, I know not nice, at the antics of my mom and her fear of heights.....
 A very small portion of the Beartooth Pass....

Ok, even split in half, this has become a massive entry,
so I will end it here...
I hope you're enjoying the ride...
Melissa

1 comment:

  1. Nice. Can't wait for next installment.Almost like I'm there.

    ReplyDelete