Day 23 – Animals And Memorials

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Miles To Date: 
2 591

The day started with breakfast at the hotel, before heading to the local Walmart to stock up on essentials since the next leg of our journey is in some very remote areas. We packed a lunch and then headed to Bear Country USA, which is a 3-mile drive around wildlife park. In the park we saw many animals, including wolves, deer, elk and lots of bears! We were able to drive right through their enclosures so we got some great close up views and photos of the animals.

After the main park we were able to get out of the car and walk around an area called ‘Babyland’. The main attraction here was the baby bears, which were born in January but were still small and adorable. Being such an animal lover, I enjoyed watching them cuddle and play-fight, though I’m not sure James enjoyed it as much as me!

Since we then had the afternoon free, we decided to head to Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore memorials today, rather than tomorrow as planned. Our first stop was Crazy Horse, which is a memorial for the American Indian warrior of the same name. It depicts him riding his horse while pointing to the horizon. The Black Hills area was chosen since it is sacred to the Indians, who also commissioned the memorial. Construction began in 1948, and it is still around 100 years from completion! It was strange seeing something that won’t even be finished in our lifetimes. It will be the largest sculpture in the world, and to give some idea of the size: the whole of Mount Rushmore could fit in just the head of Crazy Horse! Indian families were also there, selling beautiful handmade jewellery and clothes.

Next, we drove through the Black Hills to Mount Rushmore. We spent a couple of hours taking photos and walking along a trail which took us right through the forest in front of the faces – this gave us some great views! We hung around for the illumination show at 8pm, which featured a 20 minute film on the four presidents in the sculpture, the illumination itself, and a short flag ceremony which involved past and present members of the military from the audience. This was very touching to see.

We then headed back to the motel area for a late dinner. Tomorrow we are leaving South Dakota and the Great Plains, and making our way into the Rockies!

Photo(s) of the day: us in front of Mount Rushmore, the sun looking rather nice in the Black Hills, and a lazy arctic wolf in Bear Country!