Rapid City Elks
On July 18, I left Dickinson and drove south to Rapid City, SD., and stayed at the Elks Lodge there. Parking was not fancy but was in the parking lot of the 18 hole golf course they own. The lodge had a full dining room and a work out room complete with a nice shower setup which was good because they did not have a sewer dump for the RV area. There were about 12 rigs parked there. While traveling to Rapid City I ran into road construction and they had just oiled and put down gravel on the road. Yep, you guessed it, a truck passed me going north and bingo, and the windshield had 2 cracks and 7 stars that will develop into cracks I am sure.
It sounded like I got hit with a shotgun. A few miles down from this, the traffic was stopped by a flag man and I got out and walked up to a motor home in front of me and asked him if he had any problems like I did. He said look at this…. The side window was gone, it completely was blown out by the gravel and his windshield which is very large was cracked in several places. Guess I will live with the cracks for a while.
Rapid City Elks
Took a drive around Rapid City and ended up at Ellsworth AFB where I toured the museum and had a bus ride to a Minute Man Missile Silo where one still sits ready to go and visit Russia. This was a training site but within a 150 mile circle of Rapid City there were 150 silo’s loaded and ready to launch at Russia during the cold war.
They have all been decommissioned and are gone. The highlight of the tour at Ellsworth was to see a B1 bomber up close. I also saw 2 bombers doing touch and goes from the runway which was quite close to the museum.
On July 20, I took the ride up to Mount Rushmore. The hills from Rapid City up there were long and steep and the folks in RV’s were having a tough time getting up the hills. Going down would also be a challenge. The visitor’s center and viewing areas were first class and the only unusual thing was the parking was in a large multistory garage and they charged $8.00 to park. An outside company built it and contracted with the Park Service with an agreement to recover the cost through the parking fee. From the garage, you enter a walk through a line of all of the state flags which opens on to a huge terrace above an amphitheater giving you a beautiful view of the mountain. I took a guided tour with a Park ranger where she explained all about the mountain and the background of the 4 presidents and why they were chosen by the sculptor.
All had overcome many levels of disappointment in their lives and persevered to high levels of success. The trail we took lead around the base of the mountain and over to the studio where a scale model was on display. This was used in the construction on the mountain. The place was crowded with many foreign visitors. Sure glad I decided to visit here, it was a great experience.
After the visit to Mt Rushmore, I drove down the road to the Crazy Horse Monument. The admission to get in was $10.00 and the Visitors Center was still 1 ½ miles from the mountain. The Visitors center was over 40,000 sq. ft. in size and was mostly a huge gift shop with loads of Indian jewelry for sale. The smaller cheap stuff was made in China.
(Go Figure!) The head was finished in the late 90’s and not much progress has been made since. The sculptor has died and the work is still being carried on by his many children. They are working on the horses head but little can be seen from the Visitors Center. All of the money needed to finish it comes from the admission charge as well as gifts from individuals and corporate donors. It made me think that the many tribes that have casinos could fund this project and not even miss the money. Glad I visited it but would not return.
In the evening, I went to the local race track and saw some good short dirt track races. For the next couple of days, the weather turned very hot with temperatures well over 100 degrees and with a couple of heavy storms, I stayed home.
On July 23, I took a long drive out to Devils Tower in Wyoming.
The facilities at the visitor’s center were not very large and parking was tight due to the number of people visiting here. The tower up close was very impressive and I was sure glad I came out to see it. Took a 1.3 mile hike around the base of the tower and with some of the parts of the trail uphill, I was puffing. The temperatures were high and the altitude was around 6000 feet so it kind of got to me. Thanks to several benches along the trail, I sat and rested and watched some rock climbers going up the cracks on the tower. Kept looking over my shoulder for the space ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind without any luck. This was another WOW experience.
Devils Tower, WY
On the ride back to Rapid City, I drove down Spearfish Canyon which looked like the notches in NH. The big difference was that the cliffs were closer and much more rugged. It was a nice drive and I ended up in Deadwood where I stopped and visited several of the casinos along the main street.
Got lucky and covered the cost of dinner with my winnings. Deadwood is the town where Wild Bill Hitchcock was shot and killed at a poker table holding aces and eights. The town was full of Harley Davidson bikers as we were only a couple of weeks ahead of the Sturgis rally which is reported to have 5-700,000 bikers in attendance. A good time to get out of town.
Crazy Horse when it's done
Summary: Elk Lodge Parking: 53; Escapee RV Parks: 26; Public RV Parks: 45; National Parks: 59; Ships: 17; Forts: 29.
Expenses: 48 months on the road with an average of $1964.