Tuesday, October 28, 2014

From Rapid City SD to Jackson WY

On the way out of Rapid City we see patches of dead bug trees. The bark beetle is killing a lot of pine trees. We have seen these dead patches throughout South Dakota. The only way to treat is to cut and spray.

Deadwood. Why all the motel rooms? Answer. All the gambling houses. They only outlawed brothels in the 1980's. The Taco John's is advertising Ghost Pepper wings. Good thing the hospital is across the street.

Deadwood has capitalized on the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok. Moral: Don't sit with your back to the door. My Wild Bill never does. Beware the dead man's poker hand, 2 eights, 2 aces and a nine. Also it's probably not a good idea to go gambling to make a stake for your new bride.

The Wild Bill Bar has memories for a dear friend. He was served his first drink here. We don't know if he went upstairs.

The bust of Wild Bill downtown was sculpted by Korczak, the sculptor of Crazy Horse.
His youngest daughter, Monique, and the grandson of the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, James Borglum, collaborated on the seated sculpture of Wild Bill just beyond the Tin Lizzie.
The bust of this figure is in one of the museums at the Crazy Horse Memorial.

After Deadwood we head down Spearfish Canyon, catching a couple of waterfalls, Roughneck falls and Bridalveil.

Out on the prairie again we stop at Vore Buffalo Jump. The sinkhole has filled in over the thousands of years of use.
The prairie tribes used to drive groups of buffalo over the edge. Easier to get enough meat and hides for the winter, since buffalo were hard to kill with spears and bows and arrows.

Then we head to Devil's Tower. The Lakota name for the tower is Mato Tipila or Bear's Lodge. The military officer who reported the name seems to have misunderstood the translation of the Lakota name. We hiked the Tower Trail, a paved 1.3 mile path with some ups and downs. This is a spiritual place for the Lakota. No climbing is allowed during June when Lakota celebrations are held. I found it hard to believe that the climbers sued saying the one month ban on climbing violated their rights. Thankfully a judge found otherwise.

The Circle of Sacred Smoke is near the picnic area where we ate lunch.
The prairie dogs are moving in. One loop of the campground is closed because of them and they are at the edge of the amphitheater.

On our way to Buffalo WY we see lots of coal trains. One long coal train after another, all Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
We pass a huge open pit coal mine and coal processing facilities.
Also a large pipeline is being built here along the railroad tracks next to I90. Lots of pumping oil wells here also.

It is cold overnight in Buffalo and there is some melting snow on the steps to the bathrooms. Driving on 16 out of Buffalo We did not think about crossing the Big Horn Mountains and Powder River Pass at 9,666 feet.
Once we make it over the top and down the top portion of the pass on the snowy road, we can enjoy the canyon. It is like going down into the grand canyon with the huge rock walls.
Signs at the side of the road tell the names of the formations and their ages. At 4,500 feet we come out of the bottom of the canyon. We have a flat drive in the basin on into Cody, WY, passing over the Continental Divide. We are getting closer to home. But having a hard time finding a place to stop, as most campgrounds are buttoning up for the winter.

Here we are in Cody, Wyoming. Another Bill. Buffalo Bill Cody started this town and it is still a peon to him. We go out to dinner at the hotel he built in 1902 and called “just the swellest hotel that ever was.” The hotel is named The Irma after his youngest daughter.
Lots of cool Halloween decorations on this old fireplace mantle
Just outside Cody
Near Sylvan Pass

Going over Sylvan Pass to Yellowstone is not bad. The snow was night before last and has been cleaned off and the pass has been sanded.
We watch out for a few icy places. We are just making a loop around Yellowstone lake. Some roads and all campgrounds and facilities are closed, except for a few stray restrooms. We take a short hike on the trail in the snow at West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Right at the intersection from West Thumb we saw a huge wolf just trotting along the road.
William wanted it to slow down for another picture, so he called “Hey boy” to it. We laughed about that. The wolf paid no attention.
Hey boy

We headed on into Grand Teton National Park. Again everything is buttoned down but the scenery. We take most of the side roads in the park.

Fifty years ago I spent a summer working in the Laundry at Colter Bay.
Somewhat like slave labor. Our room was deducted from our pay, but we had to buy our own food at tourist prices. I wanted some money to take home, so I would eat a candy bar on the way to work. Slave over laundry all day. Then eat a cup of soup and a jello for my other meal. I was down to a size 6 at the end of the summer. Old sizes. Then I hitch hiked into Jackson and spent all my money, except what I needed to get home, on gifts, mostly for William.
Grand Teton

Mount Moran at Jenny Lake

On into Jackson, where we stop to admire the antler arches that have been here forever.
William remembers the Cowboy Bar, but it is now a lunch and dinner spot and doesn't open until 4. We head over to the other famous bar, The Silver Dollar Bar, in the Wort Hotel. The bar is inlaid with more than 2,000 silver liberty dollars.
We have a drink to celebrate. I have a Silver Dollar Daly that reminds me of Teton Tea from long ago.

It will be pedal to the metal time from now on. We will be checking the weather reports to make it over Donner Summit before the snow flies. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Traveling in South Dakota: Crazy Horse and Rushmore

Crazy Horse Memorial and the Wildlife of Custer State Park

In 1947 Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to Korczak Ziolkowski, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also.” He invited him to carve a massive image of Crazy Horse in sparkling reddish Black Hills granite. They set up a foundation as a private non-profit to run the business of the memorial and accept donations. They take no federal or state money. It has taken a long time to get as far as they have, because the project is massive. All of Mount Rushmore would fit on the side of the head of Crazy Horse. For years the sculptor worked alone. Then his sons joined him. Now there 10 paid workers working on the sculpture. Six of the sculptor's ten children still work on the project. After the sculptor died in 1982. His wife made the decision to move ahead with finishing the face, since it was thought this would help with donations. Of course, now they have to be even more careful with blasting. The figure is just part of the project. They have a huge museum and Indian Education and Cultural Center. In 2012 they opened the Indian University of North America. It offers summer programs now, but the plan is for a full 4 year university. They also plan for a Medical Training Center here. All tribes are considered a part of this project. It is not just a project of the Lakota Sioux.
My lands are where my people lie buried. Crazy Horse 1877

They made us many promises, more than I can remember--They never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it!  Red Cloud, Lakota, 1891
Flag of the Lakota Sioux

In the Educational Center I was given a paper that said the real name of Crazy Horse was Tasunka Witko which translates to mean Courageous Passionate Protective Horse not Crazy.
1/34th scale model with mountain in the distance
The finished sculpture outlined on a photo of the mountain. The 44 foot feather will be built out of four eleven foot blocks already quarried from the mountain

We drove through the edge of Custer State Park. We first saw the smoke from today's prescribed burn and then drove past Tuesday's burn. They are burning to keep the brush low and to keep trees out of the meadows.
control burn smoke

last Tuesday's burn

Then we began to see wildlife. More prairie dogs. So cute as they chirp and run. So funny when two of these fat guys dive for the same hole at the same time. Just two wriggling butts.

Prairie dog next to the water
Then we saw bison, singles and a group of four, a herd of antelope and a group of deer including a young buck. Even a mountain goat in the burned area.
mountain goat
forked horn
more antelope

More wildlife in this RV park. Bunnies. Two were snuggling under our RV. The owner says a new batch every 28 days. Since they are obviously not overrun, some predator must be thinning the crop. William says there are mountain lions and coyotes for sure around here.

The Needles Highway and Mount Rushmore

We drove on the needles highway with the tunnels carved in the rock. The first few tunnels are narrow, so we folded in the side mirrors. We probably didn't need to. But we would have hated to scrape them. The landscape reminds us of other rocky areas in the west. But it is all lovely.
Sylvan Lake


Tunnel blasted from the stone

Mount Rushmore far in the distance

Getting closer

Amazing what you can do with lots of government money and lots of workers. In six years of carving the memorial was declared finished in 1941. The sculptor, Borglum, had more planned, a few arms and ears, but he was dead and Congress had a war to fight. So Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln, remain as they are. Borglum said if he could add a fifth figure, it would be Susan B. Anthony.
 Borglum's son took down the scaffolding and cleaned up some last bits. We spent twice as much time at Crazy Horse as we did at Mount Rushmore. Although the gift shop at Rushmore was huge.
with the state flags

One last selfie
a last closeup

We pass tons of tourist attractions on the way back to Rapid City that are closed for the season. “Have a chuckwagon dinner on the 'set' of 'Dances with Wolves.'” The town of Keystone is cute if you like faux western towns that consists of all different types of gift shops.

We will drive on to Deadwood, Lead, and Spearfish on our way home. Lead is pronounced leed by South Dakotans.