Day 11

Valentine, NE to Custer, SD

The Black Hills - Day 1

I left my nice room at the Trade Winds Motel early...
...but took the time to admire the motel's garden embellishment. This wasn't the first time I'd seen grasses used in a garden. I really like it!!
It took me about 3 hours to get to Hot Springs, South Dakota. When I drove into town, I detoured up this hill to look at this building which houses a museum.
The main drag of Hot Springs.
I loved all the buildings obviously made of rocks from local quarries.
Across the street was a small stream and a walking path... a small waterfall. The flag on the top honors the armed forces/vets.
...1888 style...
...complete with furnishings... I wonder if it's ever used any more. :)
Behind the jail, a railway car next to the old station.
On the cliffs above, an old Victorian house converted into a bed and breakfast.
Too funny!
This young man was a jeweler/artisan. His work was outstanding. The store: Black Hills Gold.
I continued north from Hot Springs Hwy 87. No sooner had I seen a sign warning drivers of large animals, but I came across these Bison, lazing in the grass. How nice! Wildlife in their natural habitat at a safe distance! And I continued along 87...
Up to this EXACT moment, I had resented travelling behind cars on this deliciously curvy road. (Cars spoil the view and navigate curves differently.) One S-curve later and I was suddenly wondering, "Where is a car when you need one"?
A few of these bison eyed me in a way that definitely made me nervous. I wished my motorcycle (and me, too) didn't look so BLACK (and threatening??). The bison actually came closer to me. They started walking beside me on the left and since they were already on my right and in front of me, I was getting surrounded! They were so HUGE. I was worried about just sitting there. Would they get too inquisitive and come right up to me? I really, REALLY didn't want that!
SO... I started to rev my engine (animals seem to dislike the sound of it). As I revved, I inched forward a little at a time until there finally was a gap I could ride (race) through. As magnificent as those bison were, I didn't look back.
This was the only picture I took of my encounter with the bison but you can go to my main page to see a video. My helmetcam, which I had attached to my bike, was filming the whole time. By watching the video, you can get an idea of what it felt like to be surrounded.
A fire tower atop the hill...
...protecting lush trees and grounds.
A lodge/camping area along the way. "Old West" atricles such as the covered wagon are everywhere and rightly so... they fit right in with the scenery.
On 87 just shy of HWY 16, I had to wait because of a one lane road (construction)... I took a better look at the surrounding area...
...One mountain face had been ravaged by fire with only a radio tower left intact.
I briefly talked there with a rider from Minnesota who was taking a 4 day tour of the Black Hills.
I finally reached Hwy 16A which would lead me to Mount Rushmore.
Along the way...
Legion Lake...
...complete with a lodge!
Also along the way, a colorful horse camp...
...and of course, farm/ranchland.
Around then, my GPS kept mixing up the issue. It kept trying to direct me off the major routes so I had to always stop to be sure of the direction I was going. This local rider stopped and assured me that I was following the right path.
As you can see, the main route was not always obvious. I learned in California (luckily - I guess - in a car) just how quickly a decent road can change into something you weren't quite expecting.
A unique feature of these mountain roads were the one lane tunnels.
I stopped at a lookout where a bonfire was waiting to be lit.
As I looked through the trees, I realized why the lookout was there...
...a view of Mount Rushmore. The faces seemed so tiny amongst the mountains from that distance.
I stopped here so you could see the huge rock from which a one lane tunnel had been carved through.
An elevated road led you out of the tunnel. A 270 degree right turn leads you under the elevated road to the spot where I took these pictures. (Sorry about the lens flare in both these pictures! I couldn't tell the sun to move!!)
A "forward" view from the same spot.
I was getting closer to Rushmore.
I travelled through yet another tunnel (reverse view).
I was almost there (at Rushmore) when I stopped to take thse pictures.
To be honest, I probably enjoyed these views as much as, if not more than Rushmore...
...beautiful country!
Then I was my turn to blend into the faces of the presidents!
Eddie and Sikka are from Holland (east side near the German border). Sikka owns a Goldwing which he parks at a friend's house and Eddie rented a BMW from a dealer in Colorado. They were touring the Rockies on this trip and I have no doubt they saw many wonderful things in their travels! Eddie owns a Garmin Zumo GPS like mine and he gave me a couple of very useful suggestions which I was able to employ over the rest of my trip. HI GUYS! Hope the rest of your trip was as good as the first part!
When I actually got to the Rushmore site, you had to pay CASH to park. My cash was squirreled away (the only thing in my wallet was a debit card and a credit card), so I never went into the tourist area. Instead, I enjoyed this view...
...and views of other mountaintops...
...from stops along the road.
A side view of the sculpture shows just how amazing a feat it was to sculpt the faces so perfectly.
Along the highway near the scupture... can see "faces" in the rocks just as they are!
I stayed on 16A until I got to 16/385S. That road let me to the Crazy Horse Memorial site. This area was much easier to access. I parked my bike and hopped on a bus which took you to the base of the mountain.
Of course the memorial is still being worked on. Thus it is an active explosives site and you cannot go there unescorted.
In just the short ride out there (no more than 1000 M), we saw deer and here, in this picture, wild turkeys.
From a distance, the unfinished monument doesn't show as much shape from a distance...
as it does when you get closer...
...and closer.
The face is very impressive...
...and with the most recent excavations, the sculpture is finally taking shape.
This sculpture is going to take quite a while to complete. You can see just how immence the job is when you see its relative size to another object. Look carefully at the very middle of this picture to see the yellow cab of a piece of equipment parked there.
Besides the small group of people working on Crazy Horse, the only other thing there is a small family of goats. You can see the silhouette of one just above the worker's truck. When they're blasting, they make sure to get the goats off the mountain.
Despite the sculpture taking shape...
... it will be a LONG time before it looks like the design.
The bronze sculpture (above) is a 1/300th representation of what the final sculpture will look like. Korczak Ziolkowski designed and began Crazy Horse in the 1940's.
There were two portraits of Korczak (as he's simple known here) in the Interpretive Center but I preferred this "man working on the mountain" one.
Korczak and his wife Ruth had 10 kids. It is his wife, now in her 80s, that keeps the dream alive. A few of Korczak's children and grandchildren work on the mountain (with others) to complete the memorial. It is important to realize that "Crazy Horse" is not just the mountain statue but also a homestead and an Indian interpretive center. Future plans seem to include a university/training center for Native American people.
You can wander through parts of Korczak's house and there you see the progression of his concept of Crazy Horse including this painting...
...and this wooden head.
Just outside is a 1/30 scale model.
The monument will truly be amazing when complete but I think it will take a long, LONG time before that happens. The monument has not accepted government money for its completion. It's people (like me) who support the project by dropping by to see it.
In the meantime, the face is (amazingly) a duplicate of this model and, as I said before, the mountain begins to take shape elsewhere... you can see the beginnings of Crazy Horse's flowing hair and his pointing arm.
One of the ways you can donate to this project is by taking home a piece of the mountain. I did. My piece of pink granite is now in my back garden.
This is Buda, an original compressor Korczak used to jackhammer/sculpt the rock.
Everything in the area is eye candy...
...including the house's garden...
...and the Indian craft center...
...where artisans sell their wares.
Everywhere you turn (and I mean EVERYWHERE), there are gorgeous bronze scuptures. Have a peek at some of them...
...some about two feet tall with incredible detail...
...some of them life size, also with incredible detail.
I loved this one...
...and this!
Even with the multitude of things to see, nothing was "crowded" in, this teepee being an example.
Don't you love these...
...hand size busts?
There were also paintings..., and wood carvings like this one of Chief Joseph.
Harleys were not to be left out. This Crazy Horse tribute bike was in the main hall...
... and this one was in the workroom of the house.
The house was full of other delights...
... bronze...
... stone...
Look at all the "stuff"!!
SO MUCH eye candy!
Through the door on the right, music was playing which meant that Korczak's daughter was in there sculpting in HER studio.
She is also a talented sculpter, as shown in this bust of Wild Bill Hickok. Many of the sculptures on display are no doubt hers.
Her sculpture of Wild Bill and her father's are on display somewhere in Deadwood.
A relief portrait of Gutzon Borglum who designed and sculpted Mount Rushmore. Korczak worked under him at Rushmore and greatly admired him.
My absolute favorite piece.
I thought the bus driver said that Korczak's daughter was the creator of this piece but it is signed "Korczak" so I am unsure.
The Nature Gates were the last thing Korczak completed before his death.
The detail in all the animals is wonderful!
You can see why I was enthralled by the Crazy Horse site. It was difficult to tear myself away from there but I knew I had to find my night's shelter before dark. I barely made it. No sooner had I settled into the Dakota Cowboy Inn in Custer but it was dark!
When I walked down the main street in Custer, artists had painted up several bison. I liked this one. (BTW: Winnipeg's painted creatures are polar bears!)
I went to this place for dinner and had a delicious BBQ bison dinner!.
I found it interesting that the restaurant (and other businesses in town) supported local (and, I suppose, outside) western artists.
Like I said, eye candy EVERYWHERE you went!

        Map of Day 11 to left.
        I've included a closeup of my Black Hills ride.
        Understand why "forward" progress tends to be a bit slower?

        Next: Day 12
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