Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Two Thousand Mile Sunday Drive--Day Four

Look at that face -
Just look at it,
Look at that fabulous face of yours.
I knew first look I took at it,
This was the face that the world adores.

Look at those eyes -
As wise and as deep as the sea.
Look at that nose -
It shows what a nose should be.

--Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley

To hear Barbara Streisand sing a portion of "Look at that Face," click here.

After breakfast at the Hotel, we loaded up the kids and headed east on I-90 toward Rapid City. Rapid City calls itself the Presidential City and has statues of various US presidents on almost every downtown corner. Of course this is based on its proximity to Mount Rushmore. A brief visit to Best Buy allowed me to buy a charger for my Nikon's battery (with adaptable plates to accept virtually every battery Nikon has ever put in a digital camera). We didn't spend any extra time visiting the city, however, as we really wanted to get to Rushmore. The news report on the previous evening had noted that because of the storms we had driven through, the monument was closed to the public on Monday. Tuesday's sky was bright and clear without a single cloud visible, so we were hoping that we'd be able to see the carved granite up close and personal.

There is so much traffic between Rapid City and Rushmore, that most of the way is a divided four-lane road. The last few miles, however, are two lane leading to a parking area where we had to pay $10 to park the beast. Our Golden Eagle pass was no help as there is no admission fee, per se, just a fee to park in a privately owned facility. Of course we really didn't need to park and walk. The mountain and its carving is visible for quite a ways. But the newly constructed viewing area was interesting in its own right--not only for the fact that the approach to the mountain has been changed. If you look at my photo of the faces, you'll see Washington looking straight out at us, while the other three are at an angle. The view used by the state of South Dakota, however, is more what I remember from previous trips to Rushmore. Washington is facing at an angle and Roosevelt and Jefferson are more "head on." I guess it's just another example of nothing being permanent but change.

Taken 10/6/09 at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

After a respectful amount of time out in the cold air, we climbed back in the truck and drove on through the Black Hills, up hill and down, past lots of different tourist traps, as my father would have called them. At Pactola Lake, we stopped to let the critters do their business, and once again, Major got away from us. While I tried to head him off, dragging three other dogs with me, Kevin ran after him and was soon able to grab him.

Lake Pactola, South Dakota
Taken 10/6/09

Back in the truck, we drove on to Deadwood, which, while having many interesting historical buildings, looks nothing like the town in the tv show. While Kevin dropped some money on a blackjack table at Cadillac Jack's Casino, I walked around town getting a few photos.

From Deadwood we headed back to Spearfish, this time driving north on US 85 to Belle Fourche where we stopped for lunch. I told Kevin not to have any dessert, as there were great milkshakes waiting for us at Crow Buttes. I did ask our waitress if the general store at that particular wide spot in the road still served shakes, but she didn't know what I was talking about. She must not ever drive north from Belle Fourche because right at the north end of town was a billboard advertising the Crow Buttes Mercantile.

Belle Fourche (pronounced Foosh, btw), is the eastern end of a cattle trail out of southern Montana. The story of the area was told in a 1972 John Wayne movie, The Cowboys, as Kevin and our restaurant menu told me. It is also the town closest to the geographical center of the United States--a place I visited two years ago.

A little less than an hour north of town, we crossed the county line from Butte to Harding County and stopped at Crow Buttes. I'm pleased to note that the great milkshake I had two years ago on the 6,000 Mile Sunday Drive was replicated on this trip. The store, its gas pumps, rv hookup sites and living quarters are for sale, should any of you wish to buy a job out in the middle of nowhere.

The Crow Buttes (and US Highway 85)
Harding County, South Dakota
Taken 10/6/09

Crow Buttes is the site of a tragic event in native american history. A sign erected by the Butte County Historical Society tells of a battle in 1822 between the Sioux and the Crow. The Sioux attacked a Crow Camp, and when the Crow men fled to the hills to gain a better vantage point, the Sioux raped the Crow women. The Crow men, having no water, died of thirst on the hills which the Sioux had encircled. Karma being what it is, the Sioux attackers died of a fever they contracted from the Crow. Truly a no-win situation.

Harding County is the northwestern most county in South Dakota and we soon passed into Bowman County, North Dakota. North of Bowman, we drove through Slope County--home of both the highest point in North Dakota (at 3600 feet it's just 400 feet higher than the valley floor where we live in Montana) and the smallest county seat in the nation. Amidon has an official population of 26 and the largest building in this village is, indeed, the Court House.

OK, It's not the Devil's Tower, but perhaps his bunion?
Taken 10/6/09 in Slope County North Dakota

We hit I-94 just west of Dickinson, and started our trip back to Montana stopping for the night at mile 1, Beach North Dakota, where, true to his vocation, Kevin parked the Beast between several larger rigs at the Flying J truck stop. We've now spent four days on the road and have stayed overnight in four different states. Tomorrow we're back in Montana. Stay tuned.


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Emily said...

Being from Kentucky I was thrilled when my S.O. and I finally took our road trip out west, something we had dreamed of for years. We avoided the interstates so we could get a taste of "real" America, and we were not disappointed. One of the highlights of our trip was our stop at Crow Buttes Mercantile. What a wonderful place, with wonderful people............ Thanks for the memories...