August 1-10, 2016, Custer, South Dakota
There are two other scenic roads in the Custer State Park, one is Needles Highway, which is 14 miles, with tunnels that cut thru solid rock, tunnel 5 is 8’4” x 12’, tunnel 6 is 6’9” x 12’3”. The highway got its name from the needle like granite formations of the rocks along the highway. Only one car at a time can make their way thru.
So, I’m thinking how do I get pictures, yup, I open the skylight and stand up thru the top, it was pretty packed with cars waiting their turn to go thru.
The other scenic road is Iron Mountain Road, it’s 17 miles long, and also has tunnels, tunnel 2 is 13’ x 12’2”, tunnel 3 is 13’4” x 12’4”. This highway connects Custer State Park and Mt Rushmore Memorial. As you go thru the tunnels you will see Mt Rushmore off in the distance. These roads were amazing, the camera does not capture it the same, I took hundreds of shots, but how hard it is to pick just the right one.
After taking the Iron Mountain Road we ended at Mt Rushmore Memorial, neither Guy nor I had ever been to the memorial. This year was the 75th anniversary of Mt Rushmore’s completion. The faces of the presidents tower 5,500 ft above sea level. As you enter into the visitor area you walk down the Avenue of Flags, it displays flags of all the 50 States.
The first blasting for the monument started on Oct 4, 1927, the monument was finished in 1941 but not until 1991 did the official dedication happen. Most every night there is a light show with music and a dedication to our military, it does’t start until 9:30pm – 10:30, it was way to late for us so we missed it. It was impressive enough during the day.
The next day we toured the Crazy Horse Memorial which is 17 miles from Mt. Rushmore. The memorial was started in 1948, with the goal of honoring and preserving the history of all North American Indian People. You can view the monument from a viewing deck, or take a guided bus ride to the bottom of mountain carving.
The memorial was designed to be the spirit of Crazy Horse and to his people. His left hand is outstretched in answer to the question asked, “Where are your lands now?” He replied, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”
As we were going thru the museum at the Crazy Horse Memorial, who do we see but our new friends, Joe, Debbie and their fur baby, Harley. We chat for awhile then go our separate ways, and later receive a text from Debbie, “how about dinner”? We decided to meet in Custer at the Buglin’Bull. Once we got there the place was packed, they don’t take names or reservations, first come…it was a great dinner, with laughter and great food.
We also took a drive down to Wind Cave, a 145 mile underground maze with out end. We decided to take the 2 hr tour down into the cave, the original natural entrance to the cave is a sacred site to the Lakota Indians, and not used anymore, now to get down you take an elevator which goes down 220’.
We toured the upper and lower levels, there were 450 stairs, with one flight of stairs at 89 steps straight up. There is little water in this cave so there are no dripstone formations, but we did see box work formations.
We did not realize when we decided to stay in Sth Dakota, that it was going to be bike week in Sturgis which is about 70 miles north of where we were in Custer. Last year was the 75th anniversary with over 1 million bikes attending. We think it was close to that this year, there were motorcycles everywhere we went, Custer State Park, every town had sections down the middle of the streets just for the bikes, and even in our campground and the 5th wheel camped beside us.
We enjoyed seeing all the different models, colors and sizes, the personality of each persons bike. The whole drive to Sturgis the streets were linned with tents selling everything from hats, scarves, tee shirts or anything else for a motorcycle.
We decided one day to take a ride up to Deadwood and then on into Sturgis. The streets in Deadwood were shut down to cars, and open to motorcycles only, they were down both sides of the street as well as the middle.
Since it was lunch time we found a great place to have lunch, up on the roof of Deadwood Social Club Resturant where we could look down and watch all the action. We had a little adult beverage and just enjoyed the afternoon.
After lunch we headed off to Sturgis, there are two streets totally dedicated for bike week. One street had all the vendors and a few big bars, the other was shut down to just bikes, with all the stores were catering to the biker.
There were many tent selling food of every kind. Guy and I did check out all the vendors, yes, we did come away with some new stuff, tee shirts, bandannas, and some new helmets!! Mine has some cool bling!!
We drove about 6-7 miles out of town to the bar, Full Throttle Saloon. A few years ago Full Throttle Saloon had a tv show that they filmed during bike week, our daughter and son in law got us into watching it, so I wanted to check it out.
It was pretty mellow at the time we were there, the bands were just starting, the bars (about 8) we open. There were different kinds of acts going on, one guy hanging from the ceiling with clips in his back, twirling and then holding a lady. It was pretty weird!
There was a guy in a big wooden circular building riding motorcycles around the sides. We left the Saloon before the night crowd arrived and before it might get rowdy.
It was an experience visiting Sturgis and one we won’t soon forget, I’m glad that we were there to experience it.
We sure had a great time in Custer,South Dakota and have decided that we need to head back that way someday as there are still many things that we did not have time to see.
It’s now time to head onward to Dubois (Du-boys), Wyoming, we hear there are some really great mountains and some awesome Old Faithful geysers to check out, so come along with us to see what we see.