Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 15; Gillette WY to Custer SD

June 6, 2011  Another great day!  Beautiful scenery and great weather.

The day started with a good breakfast at the hotel.  Whole wheat pancakes with Starbucks coffee got the day off to a good start.

We got back on I-90 headed east, then a state road northeast to Devils Tower Monument.  I had been there once before, but it's still quite a place.  The tower was featured in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" a good number of years ago, but is now used primarily as a place to do mountain climbing or to view.  We did the latter!  It is quite a place.

At the base of the tower, and maybe 1/4 mile away, a large colony of Prairie Dogs live, in Prairie Dog Town.  We took some pics of the cute critters.  I can see why the ranchers hate them; their holes are almost the perfect size for horses' hooves to go into and break the leg of a horse.

From Devils Tower, we drove back southeast to Deadwood, SD.  This is the town of cowboy fame, where Wild Bill Hickock was killed.  After parking the car, we walked out to Main Street and found the saloon where the event occurred.  After viewing the exact spot where it happened (supposedly), we drank a beer, I called Gary to wish him a happy birthday, and we went outside and walked up and down the street to get a flavor of the town.  It's pretty much a touristy place, with a number of bars, some small casinos, and a couple of hotels.  It's a neat place to visit.

From there, we headed south to the Chief Crazy Horse Monument.  I had talked this place up because it is, to me, an amazing place.  I was worried that Big Sis would not appreciate it the way I did.  It turns out that she was equally impressed with it.  The fact that is is being done to pay homage to what we did to the native population in the 1800s, the fact that one family is committed to doing the statue, the fact that they have and will not accept any public money, all make it an amazing accomplishment.

I had been here 8 years ago, and I could see some progress on the monument, although it is progressing very slowly.  But it is a huge feat, and will take a lot more years to finish it.  It is just amazing.  When we left, Bar said it was her favorite place so far (which she's said each day).  A great stop.

Then south to Custer State Park and the wildlife loop.  The park is nice, but the wildlife loop is my favorite part of it.  It's a route that always has some animals for viewing.  I've seen Buffalo, Prairie Dogs, Deer and lots of birds on a previous trip.  Today was no different, except that we saw Burros in addition to the usual animals.  I'm not sure if the Burros were "wld" or domestic; I had my window open, and one tried to stick his head into the open window!  When I quickly closed it, he (she?) licked the window.  I think it was looking for a handout... We took the usual pictures of the animals and enjoyed the 18 mile drive through the park.  The landscape changed from African-looking Savannas to steep mountains to prairie.  A neat place to visit.

Towards the end of the loop, I smelled anti-freeze from the engine of the car, and noticed that when we stopped, the engine temperature would go higher.  It had not done this earlier in the trip.  It never got really hot, but something is going on that is not right.  When we stopped for dinner (which was very good; we had a bacon, lettuce, tomato, and salmon sandwich with garlic roasted potatoes--delicious!), I looked under the hood at the engine to check for obvious leaks, but saw none.  Antifreeze level was low in the reservoir, but it was not empty.  So, I'll check it again in the morning before we leave for the day and, if I can't see any problem, we'll keep an eye on it.  We're 1,800 miles from home and don't need car trouble.

Tomorrow--Mt Rushmore, Needles Highway, and Badlands.

Stay tuned

1 comment:

  1. Nice pictures. Cute little prairie dogs : )
    I'm concerned about the car. Hope you can get it fixed tomorrow.