This morning I woke up in Montana, drove through Wyoming and ended in South Dakota. It wasn’t just a driving day though I squeezed in seeing Devil’s Tower, Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. All told I drove over 527 miles.
Waking up in Soda Butte campground just outside Yellow stone I survivived another very cold night. This time though I was better prepared with a double sleeping bag and a blanket to cover Tucker. I even took out my catalytic propane heater just in case. The night before in Yellow Stone it got into the 30’s and I wasn’t at all ready for it. Unfortunately I was also lazy that night and after waking up shirving refused to get out of my cold sleeping bag and do anything about it. I just suffered through the cold night. I also got a runny nose out of it. Tucker too suffered a bit, he curled into a tight little ball with his nose buried under his tail and shifted around a lot during the night trying to find a warmer spot. I tried to cuddle with him a little and cover him with my single bag but I don’t think it helped much that night. Anyway, last night it got into the 30’s again but thanks to the extra bag draped over my sleeping bag and Tucker like a comforter, we both were much more comfortable. I also made use of the propane catalytic heater I have to warm up the inside of the van in the morning before getting out of my warm and comfy sleeping bag into the cold interior of the van. I skipped breakfast in favor of getting on the road early, we left camp at 7am. About an hour and a half into the drive I stopped in Cody, WY for coffee and a muffin. Not much, but at least it was food. I can’t belevie I saying this but I was craving Starbucks and another of the Spinch Floretine english muffin sandwichs like I had in Bend, OR last week. It was as I walked into the little cafe I found in Cody that I realized I hadn’t showered in five days and made a note that tonight I needed to find a campground with showers.
My first sightseeing stop today was Devil’s Tower, which was really amazing. I’m so glad that I went. Thank you Michael for the encouragement. Upon standing at it’s base it took quite a bit of self control not to go running up to it and start climbing. Wow, what a beautiful piece of rock and how it begs to be climbed. T Native Americans in the area prefer that it not be climbed and that I’m a bit conflicted about it. However I view climbing as a spiritual pursuit and a way of being one with nature so to me at least it is in harmony with it’s spiritual significance. Someday, Jon, John and Mike we need to come here and climb this magnificent tower. Wow… did I say that already?
From Devil’s Tower I headed to Mt. Rushmore, which I literally just drove past. They charge $8 to get in and park in the parking structure. A Golden Eagle National Park pass doesn’t get you past the parking fee. BTW, I should say I’m certinaly getting the value out of my park pass this year. Regardless since with the Tucker there isn’t much accessible to us and I really just came by for the photo, I did what half the vistors do… I drove around in circles outside the parking structure with the camera out the window snapping away. You are not allowed to stopping on the road anywhere that you actually could view Mt. Rushmore. Kind of forcing you into paying the $8 to get a good photo. That is kind of the way the entire Black Hills area of SD seems to be. It’s like a giant family vacation wonderland, but where everything has a price. For a few dollars you can see the stalactites and stalagmites inside a cave, or for a few more dollars you can go on a go cart track, or into a indian gaming casino, or see a western cowbody shootout drama, or a dozen other little touristy things. I could see families driving to this area and spending a week exploring all the things there are for families to do here, and I could also see it costing a fortune by the time you’re done. Anyway, I was more excited about the Crazy Horse Memorial than Mt. Rushmore anyway so I headed there next. Once again though I turned away at the gate due to the $10 entrance fee which really reflected the entrance fee into the museum and buildings, something I might have enjoyed checking out, but all of which were dog un-friendly. So once again I snapped a picture out the car window and turned around. The truth is that in both places, I could have just left Tucker in the car, I sure did that often enough in Yellow Stone; however, I really wanted somewhere I could walk him around today so absent that at either location I just moved on. Crazy Horse looks like it’ll be amazing some day… some day when they get more of it completed that is. That could be decades from now. It is massive, and promises to be beautiful. The face of crazy horse is larger then the entire Tm. Rushmore Memorial. Huge! Note to self, come back in a decade or two.
After all that, I found a campground just outside Custer, SD, which used to be a KOA which means they have all the facilities imaginable… not just showers, but pools and laundry, a bollard table, and even WiFi. Once again, NOT camping, but I did get a shower and feel WAY better.
I think I’m going to high tale it to Pennsylvania over the next couple days. I’ll probably just drive as far as a I can than find a Wal-mart to sleep in then drive on-stop again. It’s really the one and only thing Wal-Mart is good for. Free, safe, sleeping in their parking lots that is.