Well we did about as much in one day as humanly possible. We drove from Gillette WY to Devil’s Tower, our nation’s first National Monument in one day. We had to compete with a bicycle race and a parade of classic cars to get to the entrance as it seems to be a destination for all kinds of races and events. It gets more mammouth the closer you get to it and it is quite remarkable. There are two climbers in the pic. See if you can spot them. At Bill’s suggestion I did ask the Park Ranger what time the aliens where scheduled to arrive. He said: “Did Bill tell you to say that?” Sounds like he’s been here before. Seriously, one guy jokingly asked me if we’d seen any aliens on our way back from the base. A Close Encounter Of the Goofy Kind. Now I want to go back and see the movie again. From there it was the mad dash to Deadwood. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not named for erectile disfunction.
Deadwood is about as much fun as you can have with your pants on. If you’re a fan of the HBO series, I can report to you that the portrayal of the characters are all factually accurate. Wild Bill Hickock, Seth Bullock, Calamity Jane, Sol……….there all here. We took the trolley tour of town which was a hoot and they took us up the mountain to the cemetary where Wild Bill and Calamity are buried side by side even though they were not an “item.” If you saw what Calamity looked like in real life, the HBO version is pretty much spot on. We ducked into the Old Saloon #10 for a reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill in the back of the head (see pic). BTW he was holding Aces and Eights which has been known as The Deadman’s Hand ever since. His killer was summarily hung and burried with the rope still around his neck and it was still there when he was dug up and reburied later. Lots of fun.
Zipping south we got close enough to Rushmore to get a hotel room and get over there in the daylight but in time to see the nightime festivities and lighting of the momument. The crowds are tremendous but managed very well. This is truly a goal that every American should have, to see this thing in person in their lifetime. Once there, you realize (and they do a great job of pointing it out to you) that it’s really not about the faces carved in stone up there………..it’s about the ideas carved in stone that each of these four had. Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln. I’ve always been a fan of Gutzon Borglum even though in real life he was a first class A**hole and an avowed racist but he was domineering, persistant, a talented sculpter and, in short, the perfect man for the job. He also has ties to San Antonio if you care to research his life.
So tonight we are about as tired as we’ve been on this trip. Up in the morning to see Rushmore with the sun ON it instead of BEHIND it and to pay more attention to the movies and displays of all the equipment, techniques, dynamite etc. that it took to produce this thing in 14 years. Borglum died just before it was done and it was left to his son to put the finishing touches on it. An amazing experience for every American. Once in a lifetime. If time permits, we want to zip over to the Badlands National Park, not far away before we face the inevitable and point the car South towards Texas. We’ll see if it comes to pass.