North Dakota, USA.
I slept well. I left mid morning to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I debated skipping this; I am so happy I went. I drove the scenic loop. I first came across antelope, then horses, bison, a few jack rabbits and prairie dogs! I aso saw some badlands- painted like mounds.
South Dakota, USA
Next stop- South Dakota! I was in for a long ride. Oh, it was bad, only half the ride from Minnesota to N. Dakota, but the route conneting the Dakota’s was a hard one. It’s hard mainly because there is NO view and NO reception. I arrived to Mount Rushmore after sundown so I could not see the monument but was able to get pictures of it. Then I attended the lighting ceremony and they lit it up. I couldn’t capture the lit monument so I may go back tomorrow in the day if I have time. I’m really looking forward to Custer state park. I’m happy I made it through that drive, there’s plenty to see here. I aleady think I like South Dakota more. It’s about time I start figuring out the rest of my trip reservations. For now, sleep!!
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, USA.
W o W ! South Dakota stays under the radar. It is by far a place I’ll return to. It’s full of so much to see and so much to do; it’s not just the state with Mount Rushmore. The first night I arrived it was around sunset so I went to Mount Rushmore. I was hoping to get the perfect picture with the sun coming down behind the heads. The sun was coming down behind their heads- however, when the sun sets behind the heads… you can’t see them. Instead I just saw a big shadow with no faces. I got lucky pointing my camera in the direction of the mountain in night mode with a slow shutter speed and I was able to catch it. Although, I could not see it, the pictures looked incredible. I was able to get their faces with a true blue sky and the big dipper hanging right above the monument. Even my sister, who doesnt care about my pictures, commented on how amazing they were. I happened to arrive 30 mins before the lighting ceremony, so of course I stayed. Pictures with high beam lights… impossible, I am in no way that advanced with this new camera [switched from a DSLR to a mirrorless]. I took it all in, some of the best experiences I have will only live in my memory. I think this is really something everyone should see. They honored all the veterans in the crowd, pulled them on stage, and we applauded and thanked them for their service. I always love this sort of act, it kind of reminded me of the luau in Hawaii I went to; we honored Vietnam vets at the luau and I met Don Ho- singer of Tiny Bubbles.
Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA.
At this point, I went back to the hotel knowing I’d return again, my parking pass is good until the end of this year. I had planned to go to both the Badlands National Park and Custer State Park to hike while I am here too. I had a charlie horse in my right leg, I think from Grand Marais, or just waking up and streatching? Still not sure how I got it, oh well, I ended up starting at Custer State Park. A little annoyed it cost $20 to get in but not wanting to deviate from my plan, I paid. It was worth all 2,000 Pennies. I drove around for probably 8 hours. Just the wild life loop alone would have been worth the cost. I did the loop 2.5 times. There is no barrier so you must take safety precautions- like stay in your car when you are close!
Then I got to drive on Iron Mountain road. I did this twice-once down and once back, it took me to Mount Rushmore. I saw Mount Rushmore in the daytime. I saw it at the monument park, and about 3 times just driving on Iron Mountain road. Driving on Iron Mountain road is so insane. This road was engineered like a roller coaster with no track and you just drive on it. It’s like a really fun and really long go kart track. There are a few single car tunnels through the rock mountain formations. There are also what they call pigtails as well as just regular like crazy sharp turns like U-turns this way and that way just winding down this country road. While you’re driving you have an amazing view all around you. I wish my Go Pro could capture it all. It’s just something everybody, anybody who loves to drive, should experience. It is a great American road, so perfect for this trip. Couldn’t talk enough about the wildlife loop. I sat (in the safety of my car) about 2 inches from a Buffalo, my window was down and he was right next to me. I tried to get as many selfies as I could with him, but having my back to a huge wild animal was nerve-wracking to say the least.
NOT Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Oh, but south Dakota was so exhilarating. I ended up putting some badlands on my drive to Colorado. I met a local at the bar where I stopped for dinner. I had a bison pulled sandwich from Buglin’ Bull. The local was so proud of his state and told me specifically to go to these Badlands but to make sure to backtrack to go to Colorado. I’m here now, at Debs. I’m getting ready to meet up with her at an event. I got to see the badlands, they were prettier than the ones I photographed in North Dakota, but I couldn’t capture their essence. I was in a dense fog so my lens was condensating (is that a word?) too quickly. Another thing I’ll just have to save to my memories. The drive from SD to CO was the worst one yet- after almost running out of gas. I should have listened to him- I was driving so slow through reservations around the corner of NE. There was no service for hours and I drove on empty for over 20 minutes. All I saw was vast unpopulated land and a few dead cows. That’s how I was greeted to NE. I have no intention to go to Nebraska to explore farther.
I made it to Golden, Co. and it’s time for a glass of wine.