Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Chapter 36 - Buffalo to Mt Rushmore, South Dakota
The realization came to us this morning that today being August 1st our trip is at least two-thirds over and following our visit to Mt Rushmore over these next two days, we can no longer deny to ourselves that we are headed east and home. The weather has been terrific, time has gone by so quickly, and we have had a fabulous time. We just need to remind ourselves that there are still more great sites ahead to enjoy. The drive from Buffalo to our Mt Rushmore KOA was around 200 miles but at least half of it was on Interstate 90 and most of the drive was on fairly straight roads. Other than the last part of the drive where we climbed up into the mountains of the Black Hills National Forest, most of the drive was through rugged and hilly countryside, a sight to which we have become accustomed. For the most part until we reached the Black Hills of Western South Dakota, the landscape was mostly treeless. Once we arrived in the Black Hills, evergreens covered almost all of the land. The Mt Rushmore KOA was huge, well organized, expensive, and as far as we could tell, all 303 sites and most of their 94 tent sites were completely full.
We spent much of the afternoon however, at our campground. If we were traveling with children this place would be the best. They offered everything from horseback riding to golf cart and bicycle rentals. What they did not offer however, is a WiFi connection, any television coverage, and even our telephones did not work. Really primitive for us old adults so both Kathy and I were forced to read one of the half dozen good books that we brought along with us. Tomorrow we will leave early for Mt Rushmore hopefully to avoid the crowds.
Our plan was to arrive at Mt Rushmore the minute that it opened at 8:00 am. We would have been there exactly on time were it not for the very young and talkative South Dakota State Trooper who pulled us over for speeding on the empty 40 mph mountain highway leading up to Mt Rushmore. This was probably the first time in over 7,000 miles of driving on our trip that I was above the speed limit, and wouldn't you know it, I was nabbed. The fine: $105. An unexpected travel expense. Anyway, we arrive at Mt Rushmore at 8:15 am and the crowds were beginning to flow in.
One expected problem was that Cabo was not allowed up to the viewing platform so I took the above photo of Kathy and Cabo from just outside the parking ramp and then Kathy and I when up separately to view Mt Rushmore. In Kathy's case a stop at their huge gift store was a mandatory step in the visiting of any tourist attraction. The Federal government has actually done a remarkably good job presenting the sculptured mountain. We have all seen photographs of Mt Rushmore so seeing it in person could have been a big bore were it not for the grand entrance to the viewing platform with the clean concrete walkways along with the overhead arches and all of the colorful state flags. We were both very impressed.
The highlight of the drive may have been the scenic overlook near the highpoint of Iron Mountain Road where we were able to park and climb up on the rocks to the overlook where we could look back at Mt Rushmore that was at least 15 miles off in the distance. Almost a white dot in the photo.
Tomorrow we head east again although we are not sure exactly where we are headed or how far we will drive. Without a telephone connection we were unable to make a reservation for our next stop and without an internet hookup we had no chance to review our campground options. Now this is really roughing it. We will just have to decide where we are going to stay on the fly. We will let you know what happens.