I'm writing now from the front porch of the Horsethief Campground in the Black Hills after having spent the day at Wind Cave National Park. Since leaving the quiet rural confines of Salem, SD, we've seen a lot and have a lot to catch you up on. So while Alyssa is doing laundry, I'll do my best to summarize.
From Mitchell we continued on I-90 west, and stopped off at easily the most spectacular rest area I have ever seen. Just outside of Chamberlain, with sweeping vistas of the Missouri River and the valley below, we were treated to yet another exhibit dedicated to the exploits of Mssrs. Lewis and Clark. It seems that each state wants to be sure we know the explorers were there. We traveled further into Chamberlain to visit the Akta Lakota Sioux Museum and Cultural Center. The facility provided an interesting alternate viewpoint to many of the tales I was told of late 19th century westward expansion in my history classes through undergrad, and put a very human face on the cost of pioneer greed. It would not be our last lesson on the legacy of the Sioux nation.
|You can click on any picture for an enlarged version!!|
After leaving Badlands, we visited an honest to goodness nuclear missile silo, less than a mile from I-90 (yes, the very same road as the Mass Pike). It is staggering to think that weapons capable of such destructive force were hidden in plain view for over thirty years as a generation of vacationers whisked past. Having taken Defense Policy in college, learning about the Minuteman missile deployment was a refresher course for me, but all new to Alyssa. And we also learned just how much they got right in the opening scenes of WarGames (just not the "shoot your fellow missilier part, they made that up).
We arrived in Rapid City around mid-day and found that yet another South Dakota city has retained much of its frontier charm while still seeming fresh and lively. We poked around a bit downtown, but wanted to get to our campsite and just relax, for the next two days, we would be underground!!! It was here we learned that our time in South Dakota was scheduled a bit too close to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally though, as the thunder of straight pipes assaulted our eardrums every stop we made.
|Crazy Horse: The model on the left, the work in progress on the right.|
Tomorrow is another day. We visit Mount Rushmore in the morning before hitting Deadwood, our last planned hotel stop before two weeks in the Wyoming wilderness. I've loved the idea of visiting Deadwood ever since owning a "choose your own adventure" book on the town as a child (I thought it was a fictional place at the time!). Now I get the chance to see a western town that is still supposed to be very much alive and kicking and I'm looking forward to it! We even took Alyssa's friend Mike's recommendation on our hotel, which is a historic renovation reborn as a Holiday Inn. Overall, our week in South Dakota has gone beyond every expectation that I've had, and the Black Hills are the first place we've visited where I can say I'm already planning my return trip.
Sheez, we're still on vacation and I'm already planning the next one...