South Dakota: The First 11 hours.Posted on September 12th, 2007 after 4492 miles by Dean Croshere.
What would you say if you were on vacation at a national monument in South Dakota and you saw some kid lugging a 50 pound metal... thing down the granite walkway?
Nothing else. A lot of people stared. A couple of people stared, realized they stared, glanced up, realized I saw them staring, and awkwardly said "hi."
I felt like a well endowed woman wearing a low cut shirt.
It is Mount Rushmore. The president's faces carved into the sheer rock. You've seen it before. You probably got a better look at it, actually. It is kind of small, way up there on the mountain side. Cary Grant wasn't even climbing down it. Also, the viewing area was nothing like in the movie.
Some old guy came up to me and pointed way down below at the base of the mountain and muttered something about a mountain goat. We're at one of the most impressive feats of stone carving ever performed, a piece of national pride, and he is pointing at a mountain goat that just ran behind a tree.
I guess he'd also seen the monument before.
On the way back from the viewing area, someone did find the courage to ask me something about my burden.
"What is it?"
"My school's mascot."
The brave question asker was stunned, but the floodgate, the conversation, was open. A small crowd formed and they all asked me the same follow up question:
"Did you lose a bet?"
"Lost the coin toss eh?"
I probably looked like I'd lost a bet. It is a long quarter mile (up hill both ways, naturally). I tried to explain to them that it was an honor to have Boxer, that there was any number of people who are jealous of the fact that I've touched him much less driven him across the country.
They probably didn't care, they were just wondering what the hell was going on.
I'm sure they won't be the last.
I do have an annual parking permit for the Mt. Rushmore parking lot. Anyone driving a "Blue 4DR" with an "OR" license plate can save the $7 if they visit the park before the end of the year and want mine.
The drive to and through North Dakota was pretty quick. I got unintentionally lost for the first time. Navigating using a combination of the sun (I knew where west was), a GPS (I knew exactly where I was, though not where that or anything else was), and google maps on the iPhone (I knew where I was trying to get to and where everything else was, but it could only be updated when I was in a town and I didn't know where I was).
I drove north and south a few times, only to realize I was going the right way the first time. I had just guessed my mileage wrong. I suppose I should use my odometer too. After putting all of the information together and getting re-oriented, I got back on the road.
I passed Lost Springs, population: 1. The sign itself was worth a boxer shot. I pulled off into the town (a fair feat, I wasn't driving slowly and the turn was close). I considered briefly looking for the sole inhabitant of the town, but I didn't know where to look. He could have lived in any of the 10 or so houses, the farm on the other side of the hill or the one on this side. Either that, or he worked in the bar. Maybe the "Antiques and Stuff" store. Maybe he lived behind that huge billboard telling tourists to come visit Lost Springs.
Maybe "he" was a "she." More likely, "he" was a "them."
No, I decided it was just a tourist trap with oddly drawn town lines so it could have pop: 1. I pulled off by the side of the road and cooked myself lunch. This was quite the adventure, it will be the subject of an episode later.
Anyone who has driven through South Dakota will recognize this place:
A marvel of roadside advertising, Wall Drug makes itself a necessary stop. Imagine a carnie town that centers itself around a drug store in South Dakota. There are all kinds of buildings built to look old. There are lots of narrow streets with rotting looking wood sidewalks that are not actually rotting. In fact, rotting looking wood is the primary building material for the buildings. At least, thats what it is supposed to look like, I'm sure it is just faux rotting wood paneling or something. I mean, Wall Drug proudly proclaims has been there since 1931. The other buildings sell "Authentic Gold!" or are an "Old Miner's Bar!" I thought I saw a miner themed video arcade too.
An interesting stop, a marvel of advertising. I didn't go in.