It’s up early(ish) in the morning, lots of ground to cover on a two monument day that will see me starting in a state, crossing another and end up in the third.
The route from the campsite to Mount Rushmore is a delight, swerving ascending and descending through the Black Hills National Forest and offering scenic views as well as exciting riding. I film some of it and at some point I’ll have the time to put it together into a short clip.
The first view of the Monument is from afar, deep in the middle of the forest track, but it’s impressive none the less. It takes no more than half an hour to get to the car park and, after forking out an extraordinary $11 parking fee, that however will allow me to park there for a year, I’m in the complex.
It is rather curious how such an idea even got put into practice. It is also curious how, going around with a camera it is hardly possible to stop oneself from taking pictures. Surely there must be an upper limit to the number of pictures that any one site I visit deserves. I think I tested the limit both here and at the tower later on.
So, Mount Rushmore was not a disappointment. The next landmark I was aiming for was in a whole new state: Wyoming. The route there took me through some interesting spots. First was Deadwood, a well known mining town of the late 19th century, read gold rush. I only stopped for some coffee and to refuel and could not resist taking a picture of the Chubby Chipmunk, what a splendid name for something.
Then, after crossing the state border, and not too far from the Devil’s Tower I made a pit stop in Aladdin (Population 15) where i refuelled on a pump that was straight out of Back To The Future, I mean the bit when they are in the 60s. At the pump/shop there was a little rock concert going on, all sort of things go on in this part of the country as part of the Sturgis Motorbike Rally. I stopped a while, had a cigarette and then moved on. Fortunately I deployed my wet weather gear as I was going to get to the tower under the rain.
Like i’ve come to expect in the USA, all these attractions are well managed and run, the parking leads directly to a path that goes all the way around the Tower, equipped with nice info spots. The reason I came is because I saw the tower in both Close Encounters and on the cover of an LP, not sure if it was Neil Young or Jackson Brown, but it always fascinated me that the earth could have a horn.
Well, when I got three miles away from the tower I finally managed to stop taking pictures. Ahead there were a coupe of hundred miles of rather straight road separating me from the novelty stop in Nebraska. I did not know it at the time, but I went through the most beautiful part of country I had encountered so far, with lots of wildlife and even a near miss of a deer crossing the road in front of me and the sight, for the first time, of bisons.
After the nature reserve, as I was approaching the border with Nebraska, the road straightened, the land flattened and the sky started to turn really dark, there was obviously trouble ahead.