Tuesday 13th July
We had a full day arranged for today and a very exciting and interesting one too! We joined Doug as his guests at their weekly Rotary meeting which started at 7am. We had never been to one before and were surprised by the format of their meeting which started with the pledge of allegiance, a few songs including a welcome song for us. Kris did a short stand up talk and we listened to the major talking about issues in the city and it really was very interesting and we met a lot of highly respected people.
We left with Shari as Doug went off to work and we drove the scenic route through the Black Hills to Mt Rushmore up and down steep hills and we were glad to be sat in an air conditioned car! We were a bit worried that we may be disappointed by Mt Rushmore as we have been looking forward to seeing it for so long and we were very pleased that this was not the case. It was simply amazing and we could not take our eyes of it. We watched a 20min video about the artist and how the model was taken and carved into the Hill using basically a pointing system and a massive plumb line. It is fascinating that there were no deaths in the 13years it took to complete with how primitive the working conditions were.
On the way up to Mt Rushmore we met Stephan the cyclist we met at Kadoka and again in the Badlands. We felt bad as we overtook him going up a huge hill where even the car was struggling! It was time to swap tour guides as we met George in Hill City and our first stop was the needles highway. There were several narrow tunnels in the rock to squeeze through where many a caravan has got stuck previously. Also from the highway it was clear how many of the pine trees have died from the pine beetle and forest fires are therefore a real concern for the Black Hills that by the way are named the black hills as they appear black from the horizon due to the dense pines.
We took a ride through Custer State Park which is a wildlife loop where we saw dear, antelope and most excitingly two huge herds of Buffalo. We pulled up to photograph the first herd and switched off the engine only to find out it did not want to start again! We had to get ump leads from a nearby car right next to a sign that said Buffalo are dangerous! As we sat watching the second herd walk all over the road around our car we noticed that we were low on gas and decided to head back to Custer to refuel to be on the safe side!
We then drove to Crazy Horse which is a basically a Mt Rushmore style carving in the Black Hills but to represent the Native Americans. This carving started in 1948 and has no expected finishing date, it is an extremely ambitious project and is completely financed by fundraising from tourists and locals not the Government. To give you an idea of the scale, Mt Rushmore would fit in the head of the Crazy Horse.
George then took us to the Chamber of Commerce Social that is where all local business people gather to swap business cards socially and we got to chat to more of Doug’s friends about our trip and dine on the delicious buffet. Doug took us to The old fire station in town that is now a bar and restaurant where we tried out local brews on tap and as we sat chatting we were joined by three more of his friends.
Clearly Doug is a very well respected gentleman and has a great number of contacts, acquaintances and friends in town and we have had the pleasure of meeting many of them. Thanks Doug, George and Shari for a great and very memorable day!