Ro's Phrase Of The Day:
Can't we stay??
We set the alarm for 6:30am, but due to some freak circumstance *grin* I woke up at 5am -- so I started the first 2 loads of laundry!! I got lucky, because at 5am there was no one using either the washer or the dryer, but as I walked back with soap, quarters, and laundry in hand, I saw a guy duck in with an armful of clothes -- but he just wanted the dryer. Phew! The laundry finished just in time for a 7:30 Rapid Taxi cab pickup to camp. We were booked for an 8-hour Gray Line Bus Tour through Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument, and Custer State Park.
Mount Rushmore was really cool -- apparently they've re-done a large portion of the visitor's center and added lots of parking spaces. The mountains, looking over them away from Mt. Rushmore, look a lot like the Smokey Mountains did, but with less overall haze. Pretty cool. And, of course, we have a picture with Ro and the faces.
The Crazy Horse Monument project celebrated it's 50th year anniversary this June, at which time work on the face was completed. The entire project will probably not be finished in my lifetime, but we will see. Ro and I plan on going back every 10 years to check on the project. The designs call for more than this amazing 3-dimensional, in-the-round monument; a medical teaching facility, museums, and information on all tribes of North American Indians are just part of what should be an even more amazing place than what it currently is. This statue and embedded tablet show what the mountain will look like someday. The Crazy Horse Mounument project has never used federal or state money, because the sculptor did not think that that would be appropriate. He also did not like the idea of concessions or charging admission, but after his death his wife and some of their 10 children took over the project, and allowed the incorporation of native artwork and donation-oriented fundraising into the public side of the project. The sculptor (who's name I have somewhere) was approached by Henry Standing Bear of the Souix Nation, but the monument is to represent all northern american indian tribes, and, in the words of Standing Bear, to "let the white man know that the red man had heros too".
We then drove back through Custer State Park, through the city of Custer, and continued onto Needles Highway. Before we climbed up very high, we did get to pass a small group of buffalo, or American Bison as they are really named. We then entered the Needle's Eye area, at which point we got off the bus to take some pictures before we all went went through the narrowest of the 5 tunnels (at 8', 7", the bus had about 1/4" clearance on either side) on the highway. The highway also has 2 "pigtail bridges", which are built such that the road can rotate underneath itself (much like a circular staircase). We later passed by Cathedral Spires, the first proposed location for the Mt. Rushmore Monument (rejected due to low-quality granite and public inaccessibility. We also drove over the Iron Mountain, which has both a plaque dedicated to Sen. Norbeck, the congressman who first pushed for creating Custer State Park, and an excellent view of the Mt. Rushmore faces as you exit one of the tunnels.
When we got back, the Grey Line driver was going by Lynn and Tom's hotel anyway so he dropped us off there -- we checked on our package which they were to have picked up from the post office while we were on the tour. It hadn't arrived...because Bike Nashbar had sent it "general delivery Fed Ex" which didn't make sense, because Fed Ex doesn't do general deliveries (to a location, as opposed to a person). However, Tom had talked to a wonderful lady in customer service, and we agreed to have them send a new shipment to Lynn and Tom's hotel in New Ulm, MN, our next rest day (6 riding days hence, the longest stretch between rests, we believe).
We returned to hotel, and got lucky w/ the last load of laundry -- the washer was available so we started that load right away. We got dinner at the Firehouse (the one recommended by the guy at the Montana Brew Pub), and Lo and Behold, ran into Tom and Lynn there! They had been similarly "delayed", and hadn't gotten there as early as they'd expected. The food was great, and we all got some beer bread to take with us to Pit 1 the next day -- which I then left in the cab on the way home (we think)! waaaah. Oh well....
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