Road Warriors Part 2: Rushmore and Badlands

sunriseSo yesterday I told you about driving for two solid days to get to the Black Hills. It poured that first night we were in the tent and I wondered what we’d gotten ourselves into. The tent faced east and it was a spectacular sunrise. The orange glow woke me up at 5 am and being the camera nerd I am, I immediately jumped up and unzipped the window. It was breathtaking.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an orange sunrise quite like this. It was still kind of rainy, though, so I zipped it up and lay back down. I drifted on and off for the next hour. When I tried to check the time on my iPhone, it was completely dead. Not sure why because when we bunked down for the night, it still had about 50% battery left. Husband’s was dead, too. We figured it was trying to hit a network all night or something and it killed it. Luckily, we could charge in the car.

We finally dragged ourselves up at around 7 am. He made percolated coffee for the first time and I snapped pictures here and there of the campground. It was CHILLY! We had to wear our jackets. It was also threatening to rain again. Dark clouds moved in overhead. Since we couldn’t see the radar, it was hard to know what was happening. Luckily, the rain held off just as we poured our first cup of coffee and headed back into the tent.

Getting inside the tent with an umbrella and a cup of coffee was not easy. I managed to spill some of it inside and in my shoes. 😐 We watched it rain again. When it finally stopped, we decided it would be a good time to get dressed and get in the car and head out. As we pulled away from the campsite, I plugged in my phone and got some juice to it. We also got some 4G action and I was able to see the radar. Rain all morning. Clearing in the afternoon.

badlandsInitially, we had planned to go to Mount Rushmore that morning but since it was raining, we headed to the Badlands instead. It turned out to be a good decision. My husband asked, “What’s at the Badlands?” I responded with, “Rocks.” He said, “Oh. Great.” I think he thought I was nuts for wanting to go there and look at rocks. But they’re spectacular rocks. 🙂

For Christmas, I got Husband a National Park Pass. Turns out we got into the Badlands for free with it. We both liked that benefit and we enjoyed the Badlands. It was somewhat overcast but when the sun came out it was hot. Not like our Texas hot where it’s so humid you might drown. Just hot hot. If that makes sense.

badlands-sheepI was a kid the last time I was there but I have no real memory of it. My hope is that my son will remember it and think it’s pretty cool. We spent a lot of time hitting all the look-outs and snapping pictures but after a while, it all starts to look the same. Even so, the rock formations are amazing. We even saw some longhorn sheep lounging with their babies. So cute! Wish you could see them in this picture but they’re there, if a bit small. I should have bought that $650 telephoto lens, huh?

We went around the entire park and paused on the way out for me to snap this picture. Look at my Chevy! I love my Chevy. It sustained the nearly 3000 mile trip without a hiccup. So happy to have it instead of that POS rollerskate I was driving. I seriously think Chevy should use this on their advertising, don’t you? 😉

badlands-chevyIt was late by the time we left the park and we were all starving. We’d skipped breakfast and it was well past lunch. If I had been using my head, I would have remembered we had sandwich-makings in the cooler in the back of the car and we could have stopped for a picnic at the Badlands. But I wasn’t using my head. I was thinking, “WE NEED TO GET TO MOUNT RUSHMORE!”

We hit the campsite about 4 pm. The sun was finally out and the rain had stopped. Husband got out the grill and all the food to make our burgers. We stuffed our faces as fast as we could because we were all so famished. The burgers were GREAT. There is nothing better than having camp food. Afterward, we piled back in the car and made the 2.2 mile trek to the monument.

Seriously. I loved camping that close to Rushmore. Check out this profile view on the way there.



And then we made it to the monument!


It’s just…wow. It’s a truly an amazing place. Thinking how it was carved with these men who were hanging by a thread on the mountain with chisels blows me away. Initially, Gutzon Borglum wanted to carve them to their waist, but he ran into bad granite and had to stop. Here’s what it was supposed to look like.


We decided to try the trail behind the plaza. Looking at the trail map, it seemed fairly short and easy. “You can do it. It’ll be easy!” says the husband. Famous last words. But there are some nifty little places to stop and look up to see it. Like this one through this crack in a mini cave.

Rushmore-CrackI call this my crack picture and it makes me giggle every time I think about it. I’m easily amused. There are places to look up and see one face with an information board about that president and what he did for our country. Loved that even though I didn’t stop to read every single word.

The trek around the place had lots of stairs. LOTS.OF.STAIRS. “It’ll be easy,” he said. *straight face* But we made it back and as a reward, we had ice cream. We sat in Carver’s Café and talked about North by Northwest and wondered if that was the same café where Eva Marie Saint shot Cary Grant.

By then it was early evening. We debated on whether to stay for the lighting ceremony or go back to the tent. I’m SO GLAD we stayed. They played a little movie about the monument, and then sang America the Beautiful as they lit up the faces one by one. Then we all stood and sang the national anthem. So patriotic! I even got a picture.

And then it thundered and we high-tailed it out of there. We got back to the tent in record time and guess what? It rained again.


On Monday: Deadwood and Devil’s Tower

By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.