Headed out of Custer with leather shirts and full finger gloves. It's a might chilly up here! We gassed up and just before we pulled out, I had to have a picture of a buffalo I found.
Isn't he the coolest thing?
Our first stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. As we rounded the curve he came into sight. I cannot begin to describe to you with words, what a sight that is. To know that this was commissioned by the last known surviving Indians of Little Big Horn. That there is not one dime of US government funding or government oversight, I think is wonderful. Of course that is a dual edge sword. That means that the progress will be painfully slow. As it stands now and at this rate of progress, it will not be done in my lifetime and that saddens me. This memorial was another bucket list item and I can assure you, it was worth every mile and dime that I spent getting there. If you have never been, I HIGHLY recommend a visit.
With nothing but donations, this man and his family have turned this into the most amazing, living museum. He and his wife had 10 children, 8 of which now do the work of their father. He stated he had to have so many kids. All the boys were needed on the mountain and the girls at the off mountain jobs. This museum now houses possessions of Crazy Horse and his warriors. Other authentic works of art and every day traditional living are on display. There is a whole section that is nothing but studio. Studio for current artists that donate their works to the memorial. There is an on site restaurant that serves good food, and if you are lucky like I was, you can sit at the glass window overlooking the memorial while you eat.
Not the best picture but you get the idea. We were there on Monday the 17th of August and it turns out that if we had waited until Wednesday, we would have gotten to witness a blast on the site. As you can see in the picture above, the horses head is drawn on the mountain and ready for future blasting. What amazed me though is the fact that when he is done, Mt. Rushmore would fit in his hair! Now at this point I had not been to Rushmore so the analogy was initially lost on me. We spent hours in there and I could have stayed more but the road beckons and it was off to Mt. Rushmore.
Wow another great lead in. Your on the road, you come through the coolest little (and I stress little) tunnel and there it is. I will never be able to describe just how cool today has been. Not temperature, mentally. I am checking things off that bucket list FAST. It is exhilarating, fun, tiring, emotional, and stunning all in one.
We went into the park and I was pleased to learn that they have a parking garage. Of course once I thought about it, it made sense considering the number of tourists that go through there on any given day. I was somewhat disappointed though. For some reason after a lifetime of seeing it on television and in books, I somehow thought it would be "more"? I mean you walk into the front and you pass somewhere to eat and the gift shop. You walk past the to memorial markers to the workers and all the flags and your there. Your looking at it and that is just about it? It is a testimony to the greatness of men who have long since gone and I just somehow expected more. It isn't the same feeling I got at Crazy Horse. Maybe it is because there has been so much to do about Mt. Rushmore as opposed to Crazy Horse, but do you realize the size difference?
While we were out on our travels that day we went through Custer State Park. That is a beautiful state park. The sparsity of the trees in one area and the over abundance in others is a nice contrast. We saw a bunch of pronghorn deer and ran across a herd of wild jackasses. They of course are used to being fed by the public, which is something I hate to see, but no I did not feed them. They were all jennies with young except for one. She hadn't dropped hers yet and they were so sweet. She is the one in the picture below. There was also a young one that was precious.
Once we got into the park, I had been watching for buffalo and had only seen one so far. Seeing a herd of buffalo, in the wild, was also on my bucket list. I have seen them in pastures, on television, and at zoo's, but I wanted to see a herd. A real herd. The kind of herd that sustained a people before white folks got greedy and damn near wiped them out. As we drove away from the jackasses we rounded the curve and there it was. Not just one or two. There were hundreds. HUNDREDS! I have to admit that at that point, I started to cry. I knew that what I was seeing was something that the majority of people will never see. Something that thanks to dedicated people, I got to see up close. Mamas with babies, pretty babies...
The further we went, the more we saw. Thank you to whomever the thanks is owed. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. We headed up to Deadwood and got there just after the rain had rolled through. Boy, it sure was COLD for us Texans that aren't used to that ;-) Well, I will post more tomorrow.