Friday, May 16, 2008

The Black Hills: Rushmore, Custer State Park and Crazy Horse

Note: in answer to recent comment. Kyle will graduate next Saturday, May 24th. He gets one week off after that, then an intensive 8 week course of study for the bar exam. That exam is July 29-30 in Chicago. He then intends to come back to Quincy to look for work. He feels strongly even if the legal job market is very bad he would rather find something in Quincy as his longterm dream is to settle back in his hometown.

We woke to a beautiful day, Friday, so the guys decided to take the windows out of the jeep before we started exploring the Black Hills.

Rafter J is not small from Mt. Rushmore and it wasn’t long before the guys spied George Washington!

We all really enjoyed all the information inside Mt.Rushmore National Monument explaining how it was designed and built. There are movies on both the building of the monument as well as a good movie about the wildlife in the area.

The best views of the monument are along the Presidential Trail.

We were also lucky enough to catch several of the parks mountain goats grazing along the trail including this baby keeping warm on a rock

While Momma grazed nearby .

I got this picture from inside a small gap area in the rocks

There were also lots of chipmunks particularly in the snack shop area. They appear to have a bit of an ice cream addiction!

From Rushmore, we headed toward Custer State Park. Along the way, we passed through Keystone where we found this great German restaurant for lunch. We had various sausages, along with homemade chicken spaetzle soup, kraut, rutkohl and fresh horseradish. I believe the boys’ Oma’s would have really enjoyed it!

One of the things you want to be sure to do in driving through Custer State Park is to stop after the many tunnels and look back.

Custer State Park is home to an amazing variety of wildlife.

The bison don’t seem to have much fear of the highway. We were amazed watching a few young one’s playing on the plains to see just how fast they could run, which we heard later was up to 35mph.

The antelope were probably the animals we saw most frequently.

This handsome jake turkey had several hens in his entourage.

And Joe G. if you are reading his from your base in Germany, please note that Trevor was intent on getting you a fresh new buffalo chip to replace the one that’s been getting mailed around the family. We reminded him, however, than Uncle Alan said it’s a problem mailing these to an overseas army base since they will ask you what is inside and they don’t take kindly to you telling them you are mailing a box of sh$t!

My favorite animals in the park were by far the wild burros.

I had read on some forums about the possibility of seeing them and how much they loved carrots, so I had brought a snack for them just in case.

As we mentioned, Rafter J is really nicely located for doing Black Hills touring and so we were able to take in the Crazy Horse monument on the way back to camp.

Crazy Horse is the ultimate in a family dream. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear officially started Crazy Horse Memorial in 1948. The Memorial's mission is to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians. Although Korczak died, in 1982, he had imparts to his wife and 10 children, “not only the necessary knowledge and skill, but also a deep love of the Crazy Horse dream”. This dream is totally privately funded through donations. The Ziolkowski refuses any government funding, wanting to keep out any interference that might cause this world’s largest sculpture from in any way deviating from Korczak and Standing Bear’s original vision.

We spent quite a bit of time touring the visitor’s center where this is a detailed pictorial history from 1948 to present on the monument progress.

The guys were drawn to this special motorcycle designed specifically in honor of the monument and donated to the cause. A raffle was held that brought in 200K+. The couple that won the bike leave it on display at the center.

We talked about the boys coming back here someday with our grandchildren wondering what it would look like by then. It feels sort of like you’ve visited something like the pyramids, midway through their construction!

On the way back to camp, we dropped by the local market and bought some buffalo burger, which Kyle grilled to perfection! Did you know that per oz. buffalo has less fat and calories than beef, pork or chicken?

Trevor contributed the table settings including keeping a cold Dos Equis in front of Dad and the cook.

Wow! What a great day of adventure! I could spend a month here, no problem!

Hugs, C

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