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Published: August 14th 2016
Falls park, South Dakota, Through which runs the Big Sioux River, The rocks are Sioux quartzite. In the sun they are a pretty sparkly pink.
As it was such a nice place and we still had things to do we spent a couple more days in Eureka Springs. One trip was to visit a guitar shop Graeme had spotted whilst we were walking around town. This was not as easy as you may think. A note on the window said it only opened on Saturdays from 11.30 – 16.00 unless you rang for a private appointment. We decided to go about 12, giving time for it opening late or for the morning rush to pass or some such thing. When we got there about 12ish we were a bit surprised to find it had shut for lunch, busy morning perhaps? We wandered off for an hour or so then tried again slightly concerned he may now have gone home early. Apparently this is a Eureka Springs sort of opening time thing, this being a no stress area, however we found it open, excellent. It was a true musician’s treasure trove. The owner of the shop was a really interesting hugely talented man, a musician, composer, teacher, recording artist, instrument maker & repairer. Graeme spent a happy few hours and left carrying an Abraham Wechter acoustic steel
Steam Punk Hats
Are a big thing around Eureka Springs. Graeme was very tempted.
strung guitar. The guitar itself is beautiful but the case is really funky, it’s a sort of fake purple crocodile skin. As we left the shop Graeme, in his Goan trilby style type hat and carrying his cool dude funky guitar case looked quite the part. All he really needed to finish off the look was the Steam punk hat he had been trying on earlier.
Time to move on......... We were considering three options Colorado = cooler, Minnesota to Indiana= good cycling & furniture fitting, South Dakota Badlands & the Black Hills then west to meet Jim & Donna. All were attractive, how can it not be when you haven’t been there before? When we left we were still undecided. We thought we would head to Kansas where the road divides and then decide.
We chose to head to S Dakota. A place our friends Karen & Malcolm had really enjoyed and geographically an area we may not pass by again, it also offered the added attraction of catching up with Jim & Donna.
We took the scenic route and along the way as per normal we stopped at
Cooling feet in Sioux Falls. It was SO hot.
an information centre. These places are really great. As well as the excellent written information on offer they often have a small museum, short films of the local interests, a shop, interesting conversation & free coffee or some other treat, (the key ring collection is growing). In this particular one we watched two films and discovered we were driving on a bit of the I30. At this point this meant nothing to us. Everyone has heard of the iconic Route 66 but this was the first Trans American highway built in 1913 & known as the Lincoln highway. It ran from Times Square, New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco It ran through thirteen States & was 3,389 miles long. Parts of it remain and are still marked by wayside stones. It was the brain child of Karl G Fisher
In 1912, the Nation's highways were just emerging from the "Dark Ages" of road building. Railroads dominated interstate transportation of people and goods
Many people thought of the interstate roads that existed at this time as "peacock alleys" intended for the enjoyment of wealthy travelers who had time
The main road
Prior to the building of the Lincoln Highway. It probably was a good idea.
to spend weeks riding around the country in their automobiles not actually able to go anywhere really.
Fisher saw the situation differently. He was an early automobile enthusiast who had been a racer, the manufacturer of Prest-O-Lite compressed carbide-gas headlights used on most early motorcars, and the builder of the Indianapolis Speedway. In the 1920's he would be known as the promoter and builder of Miami Beach. He believed that, "The automobile won't get anywhere until it has good roads to run on." novel idea! He began actively promoting his dream of a transcontinental highway.
It was not any easy project; it was initially privately financed, so lack of funds & route disputes were two major problems. The first seedling mile was built in 1914, in 1928 groups of boy scouts placed approximately 2,400 markers along the way, and in an effort to raise more capital the road was dedicated as “The Lincoln highway “. Eventually in 1938 the last unpaved 42 mile segment was completed. It revolutionised interstate travel.
Having now been educated re this rather grand achievement, we set off along what we now knew was The Lincoln
Lincoln Highway Marker
One of the few remaining of the 2400 placed by the Boy Scouts.
Highway with new admiration for the route
Along the way we stop off to see things that are recommended to us or catch our eye. One such thing was The “Corn Palace” in Mitchell. Originally in the early 1900s the Settlers displayed agricultural bounty outside the Town building to prove the fertility of the regions soil.
Then they started to decorate the building itself. Now, each year a different design & theme are depicted on the walls and thousands of people pass by to view them. This year was the history of Rock & Roll. It is pretty impressive. Mind you there is nothing else to look at for a lot of miles other than prairie and corn so we were easily distracted.
There being not much else to see we whizzed on towards our destination, The Badlands & Black Hills. This area is renowned for its natural beauty, rock formations, parks, hills and mountains. We tried booking a site.... all full. Unbeknown to us it is also famous for an annual bike rally held in the small town of Sturgis, (should have read the guide book) which was the following
Whizzing through Missouri
You can see why we were really pleased to look at any tourist attraction.
week. Its normal population is 6,883. Last year 1.3 million bikes attended and this year they expected more. Now we understood why all the campgrounds were booked.
The Sturgis festival began in 1938 when nine families gathered for a trip. Now every bike manufacturer in the world attends along with almost every T shirt seller I think. A useless fact is that last year The Buffalo Chip campground was formally made a “Town” although for the rest of the year no one lives there. It is also famous for the concerts during this festival
We spent a frustrating afternoon ringing around all the sites in the places we wanted to go to, all booked. Eventually I called the “Happy Holiday RV Resort”. Now, not to sound too miserable a person but I had seen this site’s advert earlier and avoided it due to the name, sad I know. On enquiring, the happy sounding lady replied yes we have a site, how long do you require?” Now I was happy, I was so excited with this answer I booked a week. After ringing off we were now suspicious, why did they have vacancies?
Having passed through miles of flat prairie lands you suddenly see a mountain range appear on the horizon. Our first glimpse of The Badlands.
In their 70 million years of existence the wind, heat and rain have carved out an amazing landscape of gullies, peaks and buttes, the rocks are of many colourful hews. Each layer of time is different in colour. You see yellows, dusty pink, gray, green and black, (except Graeme says they are just grey & green) as the sun passes over them they change in the sunlight. The first inhabitants of these desolate lands were the Arikara native people and then the Lakota Indians. Then along came the European Settlers, who killed all the Buffalo destroyed their way of life and, following the battle of Wounded Knee in 1890 placed the Native Americans into a Reservation ....................... Uhmmmm remind me, just who are the immigrants here changing an established way of life? .........
There is a peaceful timeless beauty to these apparently barren hills. But stand and watch the light play across them, watch for tiny creatures, spot the flowers and grasses against the coloured rocks and you
The Corn Palace.
Mitchells most famous attraction.
realise there is a lot to see. The Native people were the only people who could manage to survive here.
We arrived at the Happy Holiday Resort and it was fine, more than fine, in fact it was very nice (I shouldn’t have been so cynical it would have saved me several frustrating hours of phone calls) and perfectly situated in a central location of the Black Hills for sightseeing, we rented a car to explore.
The Black Hills is a region divided into three geographical areas The Northern, the Southern and the Central Hills/ Mount Rushmore, each offering up different scenery. It is a Hill oasis surrounded by a prairie sea. It offers trails & lakes, reservoirs & rivers and many scenic byways & caves to explore. It is also an original Wild West Area where the towns have the evocative names of Deadwood, where Wild Bill Hickok & & Calamity Jane are buried on Boot Hill, Hill City, famous for the Mount Rushmore & Crazy Horse carvings, more of which later, Custer, Rapid & Keystone, all Gold Rush cities . We visited them all.
The Government had pledged all
Willie Nelson in corn
This picture gives an idea of the scale.
these lands to the Lakota / Sioux people for “All time” that is until gold was discovered. The Lakota didn’t appreciate and strongly objected to the white man traipsing all over their sacred grounds & hunting lands, this led to The Indian Wars. It was here the infamous battle of the Little Big Horn took place also known as Custer’s Last Stand. During the Plains Indian Wars, as the U.S. Army attempted to drive Indians off these Plains and into reservations, the Army had little success because the warriors could live off the land and elude them—wherever the buffalo flourished, the Indians flourished.
One way of displacing the Indians was to disrupt their traditional life style. As long as the North American buffalo roamed free and bountiful, the Plains Indians were able to remain. Buffalo were their lifeline—the Indians had a symbiotic relationship with them, and always honoured the mighty beasts for the many blessings they provided. “The creation stories of where buffalo came from put them in a very spiritual place among many tribes,”
Columbus Delano, foresaw that if the bison
were extinct, the Indians in the Great Plains would have to surrender to the reservation system.” Colonel Dodge said in 1867, “Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone. By 1893 there were less than 400 wild bison left and the Indians were in reservations.
What’s that line in the Joni Mitchell song “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” Just one year later In May 1894, Congress enacted a law making buffalo hunting in Yellowstone National Park illegal. Eight years later, money was appropriated to purchase 21 buffalo from private herds to increase their herd. With protection, the number has steadily increased and there are now almost 4,000 animals. Other areas also protect and boost the population and they now number approximately 200.000
All things change, so when the Gold Rush passed hard times hit this area and in the 30s the Depression along with drought and Grasshoppers bought economic disaster to South Dakota
Ideas were required to bring a new life to the area. One idea was a carving in a mountainside.
Two men with a vision and a dream are mostly responsible for Mount
Rushmore Doane Robinson & Gutzon Borglum. Robinson was the man behind the vision who thought that S Dakota would benefit from an attraction to bring in tourists and Borglum was the Sculpture that bought the idea to life. Initially Robinson’s idea was to carve the faces of local Heroes, White & Native American, like Wild Bill Hickok and Chief Sitting Bull but Borglum decide the monument should have a broader appeal nationally to atttract more tourists. He chose the “Founding Fathers” and early Presidents.
Quick quiz question here, who are the four faces represented and why were they chosen? Answer at the end.
The Native Indians asked if they could also be represented in these carvings and were refused. A bit rich really as these are actually Sacred Indian grounds and no one had asked them if they could carve the rock let alone turn it into a tourist attraction.
From 1927 to 1942 400 people worked the mountain side. Over 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved using dynamite. The blasts removed approximately 450,000 tons of rock. Details were finished with jackhammers and hand chisels. The faces of Mount Rushmore
Multi coloured Hills, or grey & green to Graeme
are 60 feet high. In fact they are not complete. Initially the plan was to carve them to waist height but with the death of Borglum and the commencement of WW2 it was considered enough money had been spent and they should stand as they were as a monument to Borglum.
They are pretty impressive but actually appear even better when you view them from a distance as you pass through the tree lined, scenic highway . This is not as random as it appears. Borglum actually cut the tunnels though the hills which offered an evocative glimpse of the carvings first and then asked Gideon, the Superintendent of Custer State Park to design the road to link the tunnels. Gideon excelled, he designed corkscrew spirals known as “The Pigtail Bridges” As you come through the tunnels you get different views of the faces on Mount Rushmore.
One of Borglum’s most notable refinements in the carvings was his treatment of the eyes. Concave depressions were carved so the dark shadows gave the impression of depth. The pupils were represented by a shaft of granite about twenty inches long projecting from the socket with its
Typical South Dakota scene
This may look like a tranquil scene but most of these holiday riders had absolutely no control of their horses. We just hope they all made it. this is also an area where General Custer camped.
front surface ground flat to reflect the light to give a life-like expression .
This was all quite impressive until we visited the Crazy Horse Monument. This is very much a work in progress and will be for many years to come. It is also a humbling tale of someone with vision, tenacity and unselfish dedication.
Having been refused representation in the Mount Rushmore monument in 1939 Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote a letter to sculptor Korczak Ziolowski to enquire if he would consider carving a giant sculpture dedicated to the American Indian. He said “my fellow Chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also”. Ziolowski took some time to consider this request, completing a sculpture, joining the Army& serving in Europe before 7 years later accepting the commission. He commenced in 1948
They chose Crazy Horse as the subject He was a warrior, a hunter, a leader and protector, he could have escaped into Canada but chose to stay with his people. He didn’t negotiate, give speeches and never signed a treaty or touched a pen. He died trying to protect
Crazy Horse viewed from the cycle trail.
It will be an amazing view when completed.
his people. Crazy Horse resisted being photographed and was deliberately buried where his grave would not be found.
Not knowing exactly what Crazy Horse looked like Ziolkowski envisioned the monument as a metaphoric tribute to the spirit of Crazy Horse and Native Americans
In answer to the derisive question asked by a white man “where are your lands now?” Crazy Horse replied “My Lands are where my dead lie buried”. He is to be depicted on his horse with his arm stretched out pointing towards his lands. The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, land considered sacred by some Oglala Lakota
Ziolkowski had the vision of more than the sculpture, which was grand enough but also a memorial to honour the historic heritage and living culture of the North American Indian people. The final plan included a museum, culture and art centre, a medical centre and a university all to be supported by private funding. The project commenced in 1948. Present at the dedication blast were five of the remaining nine survivors of the Battle of the Little Big Horn
We were inspired by this
Gazing out over the Black Hills.
man’s commitment and even more so when we read of his background. Ziolkowski was orphaned age one and grew up in a series of foster homes. He was completely self taught and had never taken a lesson in art, sculpture, architecture or engineering.
In 1948 singlehanded Ziolowski commenced, he then dedicated his life to the project knowing he would never see its completion. When he started he had $174 dollars to his name and never took any personal payment.
He married in 1950 and had ten children (useful) most of whom, now along with some grandchildren, still work on the project. In fact even this current (3rd
) generation will never see it finished either.
Imagine the worst Monday morning at work, papers piled high on your desk, answer phone messages galore, ten things demanding instant attention & not knowing where to start and you think that’s challenging. I wonder what it must have been like standing alone before a 180 meter high cliff, hammer & chisel in hand knowing you will never complete this project and making that first blow.
The dimensions are immense, when completed it
The detail is amazing
The head is six stories tall
The distance from the forehead to the chin is 60 ft,
The eyes 11 ft and the mouth 18 ft wide.
If the carving had been completed it would be 465 ft tall.
will be 641 ft long, 563ft high. The face is 87ft high, in fact for an idea of scale all four heads of Mount Rushmore would fit in the space of Crazy Horses hair. The detail is amazing but even more so when you know that this is all done with dynamite and drills then the rock face polished.
Even more astounding is that Ziolkowski worked alone for the first 4 years. Inspiring, dedicated or just plain crazy we don’t know but as you may tell, we were absolutely engaged with this tale of endeavour. We spent several hours looking around the centre and museum. As they have so much spare rock lying around you can make a donation and take a piece home. A win / win situation really as in a very small way you help reduce the pile and they get some $$. A small piece of it now sits in by our bathroom sink, it’s a pretty pink colour and one day I WILL polish it. Each time I move it I think about the amount left to carve.
We were so inspired by this we decided to return to
AKA Buffalo or by the Lakota Indians Tatanka. Prior to 1820s there were 60million of these magnificent creatures. They were hunted and decimated by the European settlers, partly to destroy the Lakota way of life.
see the night-time “ Legends in Light” show that tells their story. It was a horrible stormy night and we were not sure it would be on but went anyway, weather changes fast here. We arrived to hear the sound of beautiful haunting Native American Music drifting from the mountain. Now, America is usually really good at these things so we were surprised when after a short narration and a few lights it all went dark. Having driven 40 minutes in lashing rain, thunder & lightning, such as I have never seen before, we were a little disappointed but waited patiently to see if anything else was going to happen......... everyone else were not so patient and one by one they drove off. We looked around, just a few of us left. Then.... lights came on, music started and we settled in to watch a great show.
I just could just imagine the “Trip adviser” comments, “ not worth driving all the way for a five minute show” We , on the other hand thought it was great.
As well as mountains, hills, and monuments the area offers prairies and caves. We visited Wind
Rapid City is a funky, arty town. The have sculptures throughout the town including one of every President. We just liked this graffiti sprayed alley.
cave National Park & caves. The cave is said to be the sixth longest in the world with 140.47 miles of explored cave passageways and an average of four new miles of cave being discovered each year. They estimate that only approx 10 % of the probable caverns have yet been explored. The cave is notable for its displays of the calcite formation known as boxwork. Approximately 95 percent of the worlds discovered boxwork formations are found here. The cave is also considered a three-dimensional maze cave, recognized as the densest (most passage volume per cubic mile) cave system in the world.
“Let’s go see it” we said, it’s only an hour and half tour. So off we went. We were waiting for the people to collect when an Australian couple with four young children and a baby joined the group. Graeme & I looked at each other, really! Now obviously we don’t expect parents to remain isolated until the kids are 16, (well, I don’t know?) and it is nice to do things as a family but do three kids probably under six and a baby really want to walk for several miles in a dark
Deadwood Main Street
All those places in the Wild West you thought were just fiction, exist!
Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back of the head whilst playing poker. He was holding black aces and eights, now known as "The Dead Mans hand"
cave? and if they don’t the only way out is forward. This could be worse than a long haul flight. Well............... yep, it was, (only shorter) hungry, cold children all wanting to touch the “DO not touch” rocks. They turned off the lights so we could experience the total darkness and silence the original explorers would have encountered. The children hummed and sang, they kicked their feet so the lovely lights in their trainer soles pulsed many colours, whilst mum looked on and obviously thought it was sweet. So instead of taking in this experience I spent my time watching them with almost hate in my heart. I didn’t feel too bad about it though as the rest of the group’s mutterings showed I wasn’t alone. Graeme, well he just hung back in the darkness and did the tour at his own pace, (not really allowed but it had to be done)
Having established the Australian family were heading the opposite direction we then went on to see the Mammoth museum in Hot Springs It is an active paleontological dig site, which boasts the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world and is the largest collection
The Days of 76 parade.
We happened to visit Deadwood on the parade day and yearly Rodeo.
of “on Site” fossils.
When work commenced for a housing estate In 1974, a construction worker, George Hanson, unearthed unusual bones. On further investigation it proved to be a sinkhole from the Pleistocene era. (Approx 2,588,000 to 11,700 yrs ago) Then about 26,000 years ago the cavern at the site collapsed. This resulted in a steep-sided hole about 65 feet deep & 120 by 150ft wide at the surface. The Warm artesian spring waters created a pond that was attractive to wildlife, which then fell in and died. So far in the forty years they have only dug down approx 20 feet and the current mammoth count is 61, 58 Columbian and 3 woolly mammoths. They only dig for one month of the year as they find so much it takes the rest of the year to examine & catalogue it all. They expect to find many more. We joined a guided tour to learn more. It was really fascinating to see the bones laying “In Situ” and to wonder what else they may find right at the bottom of the sink hole; perhaps a creature or mammal we don’t yet know existed.
Stagecoach in town.
How times change. Pretty in pink was the theme. Raising money for Breast cancer must be the most popular charity in the first world.
America is a very religious country, we see it advertised in many different ways. In some States there are large billboards at the side of the roads telling you what God would or would not want from you, People we meet often have their church name on their business cards, people in stores “God bless” you all the time, the Politicians bring God into everything, (imagine that at home) & there are many religious channels, “ Praise the Lord Salsa channel“ is the best we have found so far! Don’t ask I can’t even begin to explain it. And then there are the Creationists.
When we were in Florida Hippie Jim gave me a great article to read. In Kansas the State board decided to incorporate “intelligent design or Creationism” into the science curriculum. Their belief being the world began 6,ooo years ago. In response a group founded “The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”. The members known as “Pastafarians”, their traditional headgear a colander and their God – a huge mass of spaghetti that flies through the sky. They deny it is satire and in some cases this has resulted in court cases.
Beautiful Black Hill lake.
As you drive around the scenic route you come across these beautiful lakes.
Last year a woman won the right to wear a pasta strainer on her head in her driver’s licence photo. Who says the Americans don’t get irony
Anyway the reason I have incorporated this information in the blog, other than I just needed to share it with you is that it got me thinking......... This week we have seen 70 million yr old mountains, 60 million yr old Black Hills, Mammoth bones million yrs old and, what I want to know is, just what do Creationist do on their holidays, if, according to their beliefs, it all began just 6000 years ago?
We really enjoyed this area, we put in 10 hour days, drove all the scenic routes, cycled along the “rails to trails” track, visited the caves, museums, towns & cities and still there was loads more to do but our week was up, Sturgis was approaching, the motorcycles increasing, it was time to move on.
As we headed south to Colorado we watched the motor cycles all heading northwards up towards Sturgis. Strangely enough on the gantry over our southward heading road was a sign saying “stays safe, stay
Mickelson Cycle path
From Rails to Trail. A great 108.8 mile cycle path from Edgemont to Deadwood through the most amazing scenery. We managed a part of it.
upright if going to Sturgis” well they might but they would also be going in the wrong direction if reading that.
We planned to meet Jim& Donna in Yellowstone but changed direction to Colorado. Donna said they would book a campsite. We were driving through The Rockies in lashing rain when Donna called; due to communication confusion the camp site was not available. It was a weekend and there are not many sites here.” What now” we said. “ Terry will call you ” Donna said. So we waited, Terry (Jim’s brother) called and arranged to meet us in Eagle.
So, currently both RVs are both parked opposite his house in the Park car park. The sign does say no parking between midnight – 06am but we are hoping they don’t notice us!
One thing about travelling is that you cover such different geographical, social and political areas to compare and contrast. This is a beautiful, affluent area. Here people also are all on wheels but this time self propelled, cycling is a huge summer pastime. There are cycling paths, mountain trails, jogging routes, sports fields, parks,
Train Ride to Oblivion
Well, actually from Hill City to Keystone, but we did pass through Oblivion.
hiking, boating, swimming and of course all the winter sports activities. There is a very social community feel here and there are loads of free concerts throughout the summer.
When we both arrived here, Graeme had pulled his back and needed a chiropractor and Donna & Jims tow car transmission has broken, they need a mechanic. So we are here for a few days to sort things out.
We were only going to stay a few days but our stay keeps getting longer as everyday there is something else to do or another free concert is discovered and we all have to go. So far we have not been evicted from the carpark.
So not only is Terry is a great host I am now also using his excellent Wi Fi which makes much easier to try and upload the blog so I will post it whilst I have a good connection.
Once we leave the next stop is Yellowstone.
Oh, quiz answer re Mount Rushmore faces.
George Washington- for leading America to independence, and the first Democratic President, Thomas Jefferson-
First day at work!
Thunderhead Mountain prior to work starting. (Picture taken from museum.)
author of the Declaration of Independence.
Abraham Lincoln- an unpopular choice in the South but Borglum thought he represented equality & Freedom.
Theodore Roosevelt - an active conservationist creating the forest National Parks and lived in S Dakota.
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