Today is the day of large men in stone — first Crazy Horse, then Rushmore.
Crazy Horse is interesting, even if it is only about 5% finished. I wonder if it will ever be done. Looking at the juxtaposition of what is planned and what already exists, it seems unlikely. I was reminded of my trip to Barcelona last year, when I marveled at the scale of what is planned for Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, which is due to be complete in 2026. I guess patience is necessary for any kind of project of this scale. Mount Rushmore was also a bit more interesting than I expected, but there were lots of people and plenty of traffic.
It’s a good thing I actually like driving. Even the twisty mountain roads, although they’re best in small doses. Needles Highway was beautiful. There were lots of people out because of the holiday weekend, so some of the pullouts and overlook spots were full, but it was still a beautiful drive. I noticed tons of motorcycles, but very few helmets. There seems to be a thriving motorcycle culture out here. For instance, the town of Hull, SD, population 780, has a Harley-Davidson store.
Like in some other parts of the country, there are large swaths of pine trees in the Black Hills that have turned brown because of beetle infestation — it’s really a shame. I hope it recovers.
This morning when I woke up, the pressure I put on myself had started to get to me. My mind was filled with questions and doubts: where should I go next, I’m not blogging enough, I’m not taking good enough pictures, etc. I think that passing the two-week mark of the trip pushed me into a little loneliness and self-doubt. But once I get out and see things, I start getting into what I’m doing and my brain shuts up. Amazing how our brains, which should be so helpful, can sometimes get in our way.
After visiting Rushmore and Crazy Horse, I had been thinking of checking out the old gunslinger gold rush towns of Lead and Deadwood, but they were filled with tourists and tour buses. I wasn’t feeling it, so I kept moving after passing through town, wondering what was next. Along the roads in the Black Hills, there are numerous little rock and jewelry shops, but one in particular pulled me in — K&M Jewelers. Actually, in all honesty, I was drawn in by the 1937 Packard sitting out front. I think its appeal is usually meant for the male half of the traveling couples who come through the area, but it worked for me — I wanted to photograph the hood ornament in particular.
While I was there, I decided to at least have the courtesy to go into the shop and check out the wares, and I’m so glad I did. I ended up hanging out for a long time, talking with Mark and Kathy, the owners, and I bought a very cool necklace Mark made. In addition to the shop, they have a bit of an animal menagerie: 10 wolves (I met two of them), a couple of raccoons, and some other stray animals they took in. Since I come from a family of animal lovers, I’m pretty sympathetic to anyone who has a makeshift animal sanctuary. I gave Mark and Kathy some of my note cards, and they gave me a beautiful large quartz stone. It was so much fun to meet them and talk about all kinds of stuff, from travel to politics to animals… It just goes to show what you sometimes gain by passing up the obvious tourist areas and letting chance meetings take the day in a new direction.
By the time we finished chatting, the sun was down, and the town of Spearfish was nearby, so I gave the camper a rest and stayed at a Fairfield Suites.
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