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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

America the Beautiful: Part 2

We woke up at 5.30 and were pretty much ready to start the day so after a quick breakfast, we jumped in the car and headed east towards Wyoming and South Dakota, the two additional states we added today. It was a gorgeous day. Beauty surrounded us once again. We'd be driving along, and then, bam, a snow-capped mountain range would appear in the distance. Once we entered Wyoming, the vast expanse of wide open spaces and very few people caught our attention. We clearly encountered fewer people than livestock! A big winter storm had hit this region on Sunday and evidence of the recent snow fall abounded. We were surprised by how much snow the mountains had and how patchy the left over snow was along the highway.
We stopped in Caspar, WY to buy some gas. Across the street from the station was Independence Rock. It was a nice tribute to the history of the area. 
Tanner continued to do well, sleeping peacefully in the back seat, only occasionally becoming a back seat driver! He's such a good boy.
When we hit the South Dakota border we still had a lot of daylight left so we decided to drive through the Black Hills and perhaps take a look at the four presidents that grace Mt. Rushmore. I had not been to Rushmore since I was about 10 or 11 and it had also been years for Doug. The Black Hills are so beautiful. It was so much fun to experience such beauty in the US. We've seen so many neat things through our years of living in Europe, but I must admit, just experiencing the vast and changing landscape of the US has been a real treat. I was inspired to read Dances with Wolves again.
On the way to Rushmore, the turn off for the Crazy Horse Memorial beckoned. (Click the link to read more about this amazing project.) I had never seen this monument and again, for Doug, it had been since childhood. This is an amazing work of art that was started in 1948 and continues today.
The copy in front of the mountain where the read deal is emerging.
 We're thinking it's at least 20 more years from being completed so we figured we'd better take a look at what it looks like in 2015. It was very cool to see the work emerging from the mountain. It's hard to understand the sheer size and scale of this work. You cannot get close to the monument itself but some good exhibits explain many things about the culture of Native Americans as well as the sculptors vision. Tanner could walk the grounds but not go into the museum so we made it a quick visit. Still, it was great to experience this neat piece of Americana.
I tried to create my own rendering called Crazy Dog. It was harder than I thought!
From there it was a short drive to Mt. Rushmore. The area surrounding the famed faces has changed quite a bit with some nice exhibitions of the state flags flying over a column that states when it became part of the union. The viewing platform is really lovely and we were lucky...it wasn't very crowded on a Tuesday afternoon in May!
Again, there's not loads to do there...just take a peak at the guys on the hillside. Even so, it's an impressive sight and I was blown away once again by the exact likeness that the stones create of these 4 key men in US history. Tanner had to wait in the car for this one.
From there, we drove about 30 more minutes to our hotel that sits right on I-90, the highway we'll be chugging along for most of tomorrow.
We are looking forward to pulling into Doug's parents' house sometime tomorrow evening. But it's been great to be able to enjoy the ride and journey along the way.