Day 8 (Wed)
I was a day late, but I finally managed to call Mom to wish her a Happy 96th Birthday, before riding into Sturgis for the pancake breakfast sponsored by one of the churches (still haven’t got the grocery shopping done). We returned home to take care of a bit of business and then we got on the bike and took off for the day. We had to go to Rapid City to mail a package, but after that we put troubles behind us, riding up the twisty road towards Mount Rushmore. It was a beautiful ride. We stopped at the Gas Light Bar & Grill in Rockerville for lunch. I had one of the best salads I’ve ever had – chicken, walnuts, cranberries, shredded cheese and lettuce with raspberry vinaigrette. It was huge. I felt badly when I couldn’t eat it all. Jim managed to finish off most of his seafood salad, which he thoroughly enjoyed as well. Rockerville is a ghost mining town containing old abandoned shops, a bank and a few homes. Other than a few occupied homes, the Gas Light is pretty much all that’s there, nestled in the valley between the north and south sides of Hwy 16. We wouldn’t have found it if it hadn’t been recommended to us by a fellow biker who’d shared our table at breakfast.
Next stop, still along Hwy 16, was Keystone, a wonderful town whose historical downtown has been preserved in the manner of the gold rush days. It too was packed with bikers. We spent an hour or more poking through the shops and taking pictures before carrying on to Mount Rushmore.
The climb through the mountains was amazing, the sheer rocks naturally carved into some interesting works of art. And then the famous faces of the four Presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, came into view. Awesome! We spent another couple of hours touring the National Park Information Centre and taking pictures. From there, we had to go see Crazy Horse, an on-going sculpting project commissioned by the Lakota Indian tribe back in 1948 as a monument to Chief Crazy Horse. The original sculptor is dead, but his wife and kids are carrying on the dream, all paid for by donations, draws and sales at the commercial outlets and museum. Government funding was turned down by the family. It will be many more decades before the project will reach fruition. The contributions made by the thousands of bikers who would visit this week, would make a big difference, as acknowledged by the “motorcycles only” designated parking.
It was after six when we left there. We opted to take Hwy 385, stopping in Hill City for dinner. Here the entire downtown business part of the main street was closed to all vehicles except bikes, and bikes there were! The sun was setting when we left and the reported 100 degree Fahrenheit temperature earlier in the day was quickly dropping. Watching for long-horned mountain sheep, we saw some scaling the rocks to our left and stopped to take pictures. They seemed curious and began to descend towards the road. Just as curious were other bikers and people in cars who began to stop too. There was some concern then that the sheep would cause an accident when a couple of them scurried across the road in front of a car and a bike. As we drove off, we warned approaching vehicles to slow down. It was dark by the time we reached Deadwood, so after a quick tour of the main street that was busy with biker activities, we continued on our way, arriving back at the camp at 9:45 pm. It was a great day, but exhausting, especially after I stayed up late posting pictures to Facebook.
Before we left on this trip I’d just finished a book by Nora Roberts called Black Hills. It’s been interesting seeing The Black Hills that she writes about and the area towns, like Deadwood.
Mount Rushmore, Mount Crazy Horse
Day 8 (Wed)
I can remember reading about Koczak and his planned sculpture way back when I was about 10 or 12 years old. There was quite a story about him in Popular Science, or Science & Mechanics. I used to buy those magazines all the time. I thought at the time that there was no way that he would ever get the sculpture done. Well, they have removed over 2 million tons of stone to get to place they are now. The head of Crazy Horse is completed and it looks like they just might do it. The 5 sons and two of their 5 daughters all work on the project now. As well as his wife who is 18 years younger than he was.
Great write-up. Looks like you found plenty to do, especially in one day! Hope you are enjoying your stay in South Dakota and safe travels!
SD Office of Tourism