Black Hills, August, 2011
For my 50th birthday, I gave myself a sort of reverse gift - I decided to take my
brother & sister and their families and my parents to the Black Hills on vacation.
I recall visiting there as a kid; one of the most important charitable organizations
I have contributed to is the Crazy Horse Memorial. I have been contributing
since 1998 (possibly earlier, but I have not spelunked my old records that seriously).
In any case, CrazyHorse was the highly anticipated high point of the trip, as I had
never visited there.
We camped in a pair of adjacent spots in Stockade South, Custer State Park.
An interesting experience - I have been camping once as an adult in the past,
and that was in a tent. "Camping" in an RV and/or Pop-Up with Air-Conditioning is
kind of weird. Comfortable, but weird.
Other remarkable items
- On the way to Chamberlain, SD (first night):
Our trip took us through New Ulm, MN, home of "Old Time" (Polka) music
Whoopee John Wilfahrt,
the "Polka Capital of the Nation". But for me, it is more importantly the
home of the
August Schell Brewing Company. Mighty fine beverages....
Only a couple of photos at Pipestone (none by me). But on the remainder of
the travel, there were multiple good sized large wind farms, with 40-plus
Quite beautiful as scenery. Graceful/Elegant, and from a purely
mechanical perspective, quite impressive. Actually even interesting to watch.
Imbeciles/Whiny NIMBY types on Cape Code, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket
who object to off-shore wind farms deserve to have their electricity rates
tripled forever for complaining about wind turbines wrecking "the view".
- Wall Drug:
Kitschy for the most part. But lunch there after the badlands was reasonable
in terms of quality. Lots of so-so grade souvenirs, but there were a number
of nicer pieces of art which were interesting and high quality - interesting
because they were not traditional/stereotypical bits of "cowboy" flavored content.
And amusingly (showing their "tourist trap" roots) they were selling rocks.
Some nice, some silly. Nice as in interesting/unusual minerals. Silly as in
(literally) selling River Rocks for a couple dollars a pound. Silly as in
the petrified wood having a "made in Indonesia" sticker on it. Really? They
"make" petrified wood in Indonesia somehow?
- Mitchell, SD: the Corn Palace
An auditorium, casually decorated with corn husks/stalks. No real artisanship
or care given to the exterior decorations (my reference was from the early 1970's,
when multiple sides of the building had intricate tractor/farming designs),
and there were actual thematic displays inside. This was pure schlock, and only
the front was "decorated". Inside, the "attraction" was low-grade junk from either
a bad flea market, or a local dollar store. One of the "items" was literally a
wide rubber band with "OMG" printed on it, about the diameter of ones finger, clearly
intended to be sold as a 'ring'.
Totally over-rated (at best).
In truth, the WORST tourist location I have ever had the misfortune
to visit. A total waste for time, except that the vehicle needed refueling.
Photos from the trip
Nephews: playing Yu-gi-oh at our RV site in Chamberlain, SD.
Badlands, SD. Sun July 31
We left Eagan, MN Saturday, July 30 in the AM; spent the night in Chamberlain, SD. and visited both the Badlands and Wall Drug on Sunday, July 31. We arrived in the Badlands around 10AM, and it was merely 100 degrees Farenheit. By the time we arrived in Wall, SD. it was 104 (not quite noon). Various photos in the badlands (Wall Drug is not really worth photos, but is worth visiting every 20 years or so just to see how an effective "tourist trap" really operates. A few interesting bits of artwork, but mostly the items for sale were middle-quality and unoriginal "souvenirs".
Monday, Aug 1 - Photos from Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park
The climbers were ascending the north set of rocks as we hiked by.
Various family members are fishing (well, at least pretending to fish).
At the end of the sequence, while hiking around the lake, we came across
an open area at the edge of the lake where there were rose petals.
Someone had clearly had a wedding on the site - what a stunningly
beautiful location to hold a wedding!
Crazy Horse - the pinnacle of the trip, Tues. Aug 2, 2011
Many thanks to Reed, Rollie, Jadwega, and Ruth for the amazing hospitality given to my family for our visit. We got a trip to "the top" (the plateau where Crazy Horse's arm & fingers are)
The next couple of photos are are a gradual zoom-out. The lines and contours of the rock are fascinating (at least to me)
|Grama Jane taking photos
||Grama Jane taking photos
This indentation is (I believe) from the smoothing/finishing torch. Unless I'm confused (possible) The green inverse "C" is an artifact of the photo, as I do not recall it existing. The torched surface is incredibly smooth.
Custer State Park, Wildlife loop - Aug 2, 2011
See buffalo. See buffalo meander. And then some congressional types.
Yes, Asses. And pushier than San Francisco pan-handlers.
Just like the imcompetent buffoons in Washington DC.
A couple of night-time photos of Stockade Lake. They did not come out
well - the lake was quite beautiful in the moonrise
Mt. Coolidge and Wind Cave, Wed. Aug 3, 2011
Dick, Jane & I went to Wind Cave on Wed.
The car with the "BigFins" License Plate was rather cool to see. As we were
entering the cave proper, there were two Ranger spelunkers along with us,
who were going to map various areas. They are included in these photos.
Mt Rushmore, Thurs Aug 3, 2011
A national spectacle. Very different from the last time I visited
in the 1970's. Much closer to the mountain itself, and much more
schlocky. Not quite at the Wall Drug level, but other than being
carvings of presidents, it was really pretty low-grade (in terms
of quality). The sole "high point" was the opened sculptors' studio.
Worth doing once every 50 years at most.
Friday, Aug 4 - Misc
Downdown Custer, SD, prior to the official start of Sturgis, 2011.
Lots of bikes. Noisy. Interesting cloud formations, Mt. Coolidge,
more pushy/obnoxious "wild" burros. The last photo is of a ferret
in our camp-site. The base of the left rock, just "north" of the
lighted plant. Various pronghorn antelope, but in the far distance
to the point of being invisible to a camera.