Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 10: Sturgis and Mt. Rushmore

August 5, 2011 -  Passing over into South Dakota, I performed what would later become a tradition for me during this trip:  I stopped at the Visitor Center.  Visitor Centers are all over the United States, but the best ones are usually found between the states on major highways.   Here you can stop to stretch your legs, hit the vending machine, or look up some interesting information on the state you happen to be travelling to.  It being extremely early in the morning (the sun was just starting to rise), I decided to take a couple of pictures of an interesting artwork prominently displayed.

Yeah, it's a giant teepee.

Looking up while inside the giant teepee.

Just in case we forgot where we were...
Choosing not to wake up Bruce (who was sleeping very soundly in the passenger seat), I decided to move on and started the journey to Mt. Rushmore.  However, I got a good idea as I was driving past the Visitor Center and ran with it...well, actually drove to it.


For a a quite some time Bruce had been mentioning Sturgis.  The town of Sturgis is famously known as the place to be if you are into motorcycles; yep, that Sturgis.  Motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world come to this small town every year to participate in the Motorcycle Rally.

Bruce was talking about Sturgis before the trip.  Bruce was talking about Sturgis while we were travelling down.  However, somewhere along the way Bruce got the idea in his head that we didn't have time to go there.  I decided to surprise my buddy.

While Bruce was still asleep, I pulled into Sturgis.  I mean, come on.  It was on the way!

I was exhausted from travelling, so unfortunately, this is the only picture I took.

I got out my last energy drink for Bruce and woke him up.  Handing him the energy drink I told him that we were in Sturgis.  At first, I don't think he believed me.  After assuring him that we were in fact there, I urged him to do some shopping in the gas station we had parked behind.  I know that he wanted to get some memorabilia even if we weren't staying long.  The look on his face when he came back from buying stuff was one I will remember for a long time; he was very happy.

But, we had a deadline, and it was time to hit the road.  I took the opportunity to take a nap.  Luckily, Bruce has a talent of taking pictures while he is driving.

This is what South Dakota looks like while driving.

Apparently, Bruce didn't have to worry about low clearance bridges along the way.

Mt. Rushmore

Bruce drove all the way to Mt. Rushmore while I was still asleep.  He woke me up as we were driving up the mountain to see the sculpture that was carved into a granite rock face that was finished in 1941.

Yes, we drove up with the camper and the trailer in tow.  When we got to the parking lot, the attendant seemed surprised to see us.  The roads are very steep and very windy. How Bruce managed to drive our setup up that mountain still amazes me.

We managed to get glimpses of Mt. Rushmore on our way up the mountain.  Luckily I was awake enough to take some pictures at Bruce's insistence.

Mt. Rushmore from a distance.

Mt. Rushmore sign.  Thank goodness, I almost forgot where I was.

A Wild Roadside Port-A-Potty...elusive and hard to photograph.

Once at the Mt. Rushmore National Park, Bruce and I took some more  pictures...

Humberto wanted his photo too.

As did Batman.  He's very photogenic.

And some more pictures...

Mt. Rushmore.

Mt. Rushmore, again.

Did you expect something different?

Then we went shopping.  There are two gift shops at Mt. Rushmore, and Bruce and I visited both.  We purchased a lot of neat things to commemorate our visit.  We even got matching shirts; with the caveat agreed by both of us that we couldn't both wear the same shirts on the same day.  We didn't want people to think we were a couple or anything.

The Trip Down the Mountain

After sightseeing we headed down the mountain.  This is where the truck wasn't very happy.  We weigh as much as a semi truck and the brakes weren't happy with us at all.  We managed to get back down the hill and into the tourist town of Keystone.  I was asleep the first time we drove through this tourist trap, so this was the first time that I saw it.

Keystone; for those who need to shop more than what was provided at the monument.

While Bruce "parked", I ran into the post office to send out some of the postcards we had purchased earlier.  Racing back out to the truck, we continued our drive.  Leaving the town of Keystone, passed an interesting feature.

Driving through this was pretty cool.

Back on the Road

After our side trips for the day, we continued on our journey.  Bruce did most of the driving during the day, so I had good opportunities to take some more pictures of South Dakota in between gas stops and ice cream.

South Dakota through the looking glass.

South Dakota is flat.

A common scene during our travels, the good old Interstate.

I can't think of a good caption for this one.

Iowa By Night

Eventually we drove all the way through South Dakota and made our way into Iowa, "The Hawkeye State."  Unfortunately, this Visitor's Center was rather dull and we continued driving along our way.  When darkness started to fall, it was once again my turn to take the wheel.

I can't say that Iowa looks that much different from South Dakota, even in the dusk.  I drove through all the way without having to stop except for a couple of times.  In the morning we should be over the Mississippi River, and one step closer to our deadline at the airport.


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