On Friday morning we left the campground in Glenrock, WY heading to Spearfish, South Dakota. We ended up driving most of the way in rain and fog. In places along I-90 we had to slow down to 30 mph due to the thick fog. On our drive up Highway 59 near Wright WY we saw a large herd of bison (several hundred) in a field along the road.
We arrived at the Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort a few miles east of Spearfish SD and were assigned to Site 59. We ended up having some issues with the electrical hookup along with a leaky water faucet, so on Sunday morning we moved to Site 90.
There was a FMCA Jeep 4-Wheeling Rally going on in the park and the majority of the motorhomes with the rally seemed to be Newmars (we counted a least a dozen). There is also a New Horizons Owners Group (5th wheels & bumper pulls) rally that will start on September 20th that our friends, the Potts will be attending.
We spent all day Sunday (after our move) washing and cleaning both the Duchess and our Jeep. After spending several months in campgrounds with unpaved roads/sites and then driving in the rain both were extremely dirty.
On Monday the Potts and us drove down to Mount Rushmore which is about 80 miles south of our campground. We spend a couple of hours at Mount Rushmore seeing the sites and the museum located at the park. We also listened to a ranger talk on the construction process of the creating the heads of the four presidents located here. The original concept by a South Dakota politician was to carve western heroes into the rock to create an attraction to bring tourists to the Black Hills. Once Gutzon Borglum was hired to oversee the project (which started in 1925 with the last work in 1941), money was raised and the decision was made to carve presidents and not western heroes into the mountain. The carvings are impressive and the process used (dynamiting 90% of the rock and then finishing the remaining 10% with jackhammers and chisels) created a truly national monument. The museum and sculptors house do a great job of explaining the construction of the monument and the years spent by over 400 men to complete project. The project lasted for 14 years but work was only done for about 6 1/2 years of this time period due to the lack of funding.
|Part of the models used to by Borglum|
|Working model used to create carvings. Only the upper part was completed.|
We had a great day with clear skies and nice temperatures for our visit. We had seen on CBS Sunday Morning a segment about Luigi Del Bianco who was honored recently as the "Chief Carver" of Mount Rushmore. We asked about Del Bianco's plaque and the rangers told us it was used in the Washington DC ceremony and would be located at Mount Rushmore in the near future.
All of ate a quick picnic lunch near Mount Rushmore and then drove on to the Crazy Horse Memorial. After finding out it costs almost $30 a car to go into the memorial, we decided we could see the carving (it is still a work in process) from the road and did need to pay that much to see it up close and personal.
Tuesday we had rain so we stayed inside the rig. Connie did finish one of her jigsaw puzzles that had 1,000 pieces (thanks Larriann).
Wednesday we took a walking tour of the commercial district in Spearfish: there are a number of buildings from the 1880-1920 time period still standing and being used today. We also walked several blocks near the downtown area to see some of the older homes in town from the same time period. Spearfish was not a gold mining town like Deadwood, but was considered the place for people to raise children in this part of the state.
After finishing our walk, we drove over to look at Black Hills State University which is home to about 4,500 students during the school-year. From there we went to Crow Peak Brewing Company where sampled several of their brews before getting a couple of glasses of their "Pile O' Dirt Porter" which we really liked. While at the brewery we met Jeff & Barb Fisher from Wisconsin who were staying at Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort with the Jeep 4-Wheeling Rally. They have a new 2017 Dutch Star 4369 which they are very happy with (their 3rd Newmar).
|Crow Peak Brewing Company - Spearfish|
|Crow Peak Brewing Company - Spearfish|
Friday morning we got up early and drove back into Wyoming to visit the Devil's Tower National Monument. The monument is the magma remains of an old volcano that rise 867 feet from it's base. The Indians called this the Bear's Lodge and most of the local tribes had stories about how the tower was formed. Here is the Kiowa legend about the rock:
Before the Kiowa came south they were camped on a stream in the far north where there were a great many bears, many of them. One day, seven little girls were playing at a distance from the village and were chased by some bears. The girls ran toward the village and the bears were just about to catch them when the girls jumped on a low rock, about three feet high. One of the girls prayed to the rock, "Rock take pity on us, rock save us!" The rock heard them and began to grow upwards, pushing the girls higher and higher. When the bears jumped to reach the girls, they scratched the rock, broke their claws, and fell on the ground. The rock rose higher and higher, the bears still jumped at the girls until they were pushed up into the sky, where they now are, seven little stars in a group (The Pleiades). In the winter, in the middle of the night, the seven stars are right over this high rock. When the people came to look, they found the bears' claws, turned to stone, all around the base. No Kiowa living has ever seen this rock, but the old men have told about it - it is very far north where the Kiowa used to live. It is a single rock with scratched sides, the marks of the bears' claws are there yet, rising straight up, very high. There is no other like it in the whole country, there are no trees on it, only grass on top. The Kiowa call this rock "Tso-aa", a tree rock, possibly because it grew tall like a tree.
Devil's Tower was the first National Monument designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. So Wyoming is home to the first national park (Yellowstone in 1872) and the first national monument. The tower is impressive and is a place we are glad we visited. We walked the trail around the base of the tower to view it from all four sides. We saw several people climbing the tower while we were there (there are a couple of thousand individuals who climb it each year - no spikes allowed - all done with hands and feet using the crevices in the tower).
We drove back to Spearfish to complete our first week here in South Dakota.