Monday, August 8, 2016

Summer 2016, Day 89; Vacation, Day 2

Today was jam packed with vacation fun. We got an early start from the hotel and headed to Devil's Tower. The formation is incredibly impressive, and we hiked around the whole thing. I kept looking for a place aliens might have landed (a la "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"), but the whole thing is actually quite wooded. We got some great pictures, and if it wasn't for the other plans we had, I could have stayed all day gawking at the mountain.

We set out for Mount Rushmore next, but saw a sign for Jewel Cave National Monument and decided to check it out. Ben has his fourth-grade pass that gets all of us into national parks for free, so what would have been a $40 tour of the cave was free. The cave was neat -- the boys loved it. After a couple hours, we departed for Mount Rushmore.

However, we got sidetracked again, this time by the Crazy Horse Memorial outside of Custer, S.D. We didn't get close to the incomplete memorial but still had a great view of it. Finally, we made it to Mount Rushmore ... right as the rain arrived. We didn't get too wet, but I could tell Lori and Michael were a little worn out and not that impressed. Ben and I took a little hike closer to the big heads, and after about an hour, we headed to Pierre, where we had reserved a room for the night.

After picking up McDonald's in Rapid City, we made it to I-90 and saw a stunning sight -- we had a double rainbow in front of us for maybe 30 miles. Unfortunately, we hit a thunderstorm that was intense; I survived a lot of white-knuckle driving and, eventually, wind across the grasslands up to Pierre. We made it to our hotel exhausted, but happy after such a long, fun day.

Some random notes:
  • Besides the memorials and monuments, we stopped briefly for a beautiful landscape of the Black Hills. 
  • So many bikers on the road today for the Sturgis Bike Rally -- this is why we ended up getting a room in Pierre.
  • I thought I saw Wilford Brimley at Mount Rushmore.
  • We DID see the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile at Mount Rushmore. Interpret that any way you like.

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