Thursday, August 12, 2004

Rapid City, SD Aug 6

O.k. The drive from Sioux Falls to Rapid City did get a little boring from a terrain perspective. There just isn't a lot of variety in South Dakota. We got up early because we knew it was going to be a long day. We made stops at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD as well as Wall Drug. The corn palace is a tourist site dreamed up by the fathers of Mitchell back in the late 1800's to combat the Grain Palace put up down the road. The Corn Palace is a structure where the external surface is made up of murals made of corn. The murals change every year. They are designed by a few local artists. You can find all the facts on their web site. Inside the palace is an arena for local meetings and events. They also have a ring of pictures of many of the past Corn Palaces. It's pretty cool and worth the stop.

Wall Drug is 3 hours further west. Three hours of billboards telling you how far to Wall Drug. It's a gigantic drug store filled with mostly cheap tourist stuff. It started out as an apothecary that gave away free water to travellers. Since then it's grown and grown into a tourist destination. They do have a "new" back yard filled with stuff for the kids to sit on. At least it gave us a chance to stretch our legs, add a few license plates to our list and see a lot of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Oh, I didn't mention that we arrived in Rapid City the same time as the annual Harley rally happens in Sturgis, SD a few towns over? I heard estimates of 100,000 to 500,000 riders converge on Sturgis on Harley week. We shared the highway from Sioux Fall to Rapid City with most of them. Big trains, single riders, RVs pulling trailers, trucks with bikes in the bed, you name it, we either passed them or they passed us. Our hotel had 24 hour security for the 100 or so bikes in the parking lot. It was a sight to see.

Since we got on the road so early we decided to see Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse before calling it a night. Both were spectacular. Rushmore for its completed (sort of) product and Crazy Horse for its audacity in scale. I was slightly miffed that the parking lot at Rushmore is run by a private concessionaire which meant that our national parks pass was worthless. What's the point in buying a pass if it doesn't include parking at the site? We took a walk along the trail that led to the artists studio. I was glad we did because it gave us several unique views of the mountain that you can't see from the visitors center. Inside the artists studio you can see a scale sculpture of how the artist intended the completed sculpture to look. Washington was to have a full coat, Lincoln was to have a completed head. I wish they had let him finish. We also met a nice couple that had been on the road since June 26th, travelling almost everywhere in the USA. From Florida, west through Texas to California, up the coast to oregon and back east through the midwest. Almost all of it was done on back roads until they reached SD. Crazy Horse is huge. The entire Mt Rushmore sculpture will fit in Crazy Horse's head. It's being done completely in the round and will be an amazing testimony when it is complete. It's an equally amazing testimony to xxxxxxx who started the project in 19xx, living in a tent, building himself a log cabin, hauling tons of lumber on his back to build the original staircase to the top of the mountain and beginning a project of scope that he knew would not be completed in his lifetime. We saw his wife while we were there, 7 of their 10 children have decided to continue on with their fathers dream. It's very impressive.


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