Day Four ~ 370 Miles
Alliance Travel Blog› entry 4 of 14 › view all entries
This was our fourth day on the road but our first day of actual sight seeing. We were excited about seeing the Black Hills of South Dakota and all the interesting landmarks that we have been reading about for over a year. We were again blessed with a bright blue sky and cool temperatures. Our leather pants and jackets felt really good in the chilly morning air.
After breakfast we pulled out onto Highway 385 North, which would take us right into the heart of the South Dakota Black Hills. There were many other motorcycles on the road with us this morning, but we were happy to share the road. This is one of the most popular destinations for bikers and it was easy to see why. There is something for everyone.
We stayed on Highway 385 all the way to Custer. Nothing else compares to riding a motorcycle. It's really hard to explain to someone that has never done it. Two-lane roads with easy curves; leaning left then leaning right. The morning sun beating down on backs covered with black leather. The warmth penetrates to our bones, making us forget the chill in the air. The smell of freshly cut hay mingling with cow manure. Well, let's be honest here. Every turn producing a new fragrance; some pleasant and some not so pleasant. But that's part of the experience.
Custer, South Dakota looked like a nice spot to stop for lunch.
Korczak knew at the outset of this project that it was much larger than any one person's lifetime. He and his wife, Ruth, prepared three books of detailed plans to be used with his scale models to continue the project after their deaths. The first blast into the mountain was on June 3, 1948, when Korczak was almost 40 years old and had only $174 left to his name.
The head of Crazy Horse is nine stories high and work is now underway to block out the 22-story-high horse's head. The mountain carving will be a memorial to the spirit of Crazy Horse ~ to his people. With his left hand thrown out pointing in answer to the derisive question asked of him by a white man, "Where are your lands now?" He replied, "My lands are where my dead lie buried."
This project is simply bigger than life itself and very well may never be completed. But I am glad to have had the opportunity to see it and to know that one man, along with his wife, battled financial hardship, racial prejudice, injuries and advancing age in order to try and fulfill the Lakota chiefs' request.
After Crazy Horse, it was a short ride over to Mount Rushmore. Of course, everyone has heard of the famous shrine in the Black Hills, and now we were going to actually see it up close and personal. George Washington was the first to greet us, peeking out from his hiding spot behind the granite mountain. There was a wide pull-out beside the narrow road where we could park and see our nation's first president.
As a little girl, I remember visiting Stone Mountain in Georgia and seeing the giant Confederate Memorial carving on the face of the smooth mountain. I had no way of knowing then that as an adult, I would be visting another memorial created by the same sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, in a far-away place called Rapid City, South Dakota.
President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the memorial in 1927, commencing 14 years of work. Sadly, only 6 1/2 years were spent on actual carving due to the Great Depression and the financial state of the country. Irregardless, the Washington head was formally dedicated in 1930. Jefferson followed in 1936, Lincoln in 1937, and Roosevelt in 1939. Borglum died in 1941; his son, Lincoln, supervised the completion of the heads. Carving stopped in October, 1941, on the eve of our entry into World War II.
Gutzon Borglum regarded his masterpiece as far more than a tourist attraction. He was no doubt reassured when the phrase "Shrine of Democracy" was coined at the 1930 dedication of the Washington head.
With Mount Rushmore firmly impressed onto our minds, we were once again riding through the Black Hills. Sturgis, South Dakota, holds a world-famous motorcycle rally every year, and we would be amiss if we didn't take the short detour to see exactly what we have been missing all these years.
It was getting late by now, so we thought we would get a room in the town of Deadwood. WRONG! This little casino-laden community had every hotel/motel room booked for the night. It was Saturday and people were everywhere; walking down the sidewalks, riding their motorcycles, dodging traffic in the streets.
The sun was quickly sinking out of sight and the temperature was dropping, too. This would be about the time we took a wrong turn. But did it ever turn out great. SPEARFISH CANYON. Wow. Just beautiful. If you're a fan of the movie, "Dancing with Wolves" you would recognize this setting from the last scene in the movie. Kevin Costner is riding away with his new wife and his Indian friend is sitting on his horse right on the edge of a high cliff with his arm raised in farewell. SPEARFISH CANYON. It is truly a magical place. We were fortunate enough to be riding through the canyon at sunset. The canyon walls were ablaze with golden light from the setting sun. At times the sheer rock walls rose hundreds of feet above our heads. The road twisted to the right and then to the left, following a stream as it rushed to its destination. Dozens of deer were standing in the green fields beside the creek, making us slow down to a crawl in order to avoid any unwanted collision. This was the perfect ending to a perfect day. God had blessed us with an exhibition of His artistic abilities. I knew that I would never return to this spot, so every turn in the road was entered into my memory. My camera was packed away in the saddlebag, but I knew this special place would be with me the rest of my life.