July 30, 2016
Miles Driven: 239
Parks Visited: 2
I’ve been on the stairmaster today. I’ve had philosophical thoughts. And I’ve eaten more pizza.
Bison and bison ‘pups’ were in abundance to greet me as I drove into Wind Cave this morning. The signs were plentiful, all warning not to approach the beasts. They’ve got a nasty temper. Of course, so did I after I was ‘forced’ to march stairs up and down and down and down and down. I can’t wait to see if I’m able to move in the morning! Really though, Wind Cave, despite the website warnings, was super easy to tour. I walked right in around 10:30 and had a tour at 11:20. Yes, I picked the tour where there is a lot of stairs (It’s good for you, right?). Needless to say, I admit it’s not the most spectacular of caves, if you judge them by shininess. After all, it’s not named ‘jewel’ cave, rather ‘wind’ cave – a name it got because the sole entrance is a 2.5 foot diameter hole, which, when the weather changes, causes the air in the vast cavern to equalize pressure. So, it’s a windy cave. And the first western settlers to live there, actually built their house over the hole for the air conditioning (the air inside the cave is about 54 degrees). What is unique about the karst (aka cave system) is that it’s the most complex one in the world, one that would make even the Minotaur and Perseus nervous. Also, it has 90% of the world’s concentration of boxwork.
It wasn’t my intention to visit Mount Rushmore today, but I just sort of ended up there. Like a lot of places in the Black Hills, you can easily just happen upon something. After visiting, I would suggest you arrive in the last afternoon to early evening, unless you are set on perfect lighting for picture (then you should arrive very early). But arrived about 3, and found the park still mobbed. I didn’t make it on the full tour to the various overlook terraces or the sculptor’s studio – they involved a lot more stairs. I did, however, lounge about people-watching and eating the ice cream I’d bought from the Mt. Rushmore Presidential Memorial Ice Cream Snack Bar. Apparently, Thomas Jefferson has the first recorded recipe for ice cream. Who knew? While lounging, I noted a couple things. First, there were all sorts of people there – people from all over the country, people from all sorts of countries. It is one of the most visited sites in the entire National Park system. Second, I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that we Americans carved our historical heroes into a most sacred Lakota landmark. Just think about that for a moment.. or two…
My day ended having pizza once again at The Dough Trader. I think I’m addicted. Tonight I had the King Leonidas because, well, I’m a Classicist. A patron told me he only ever gets the Jeffersonian. I may have to go back tomorrow night because, well, I also went to UVa.
Until tomorrow from Jewel Cave NM….
Roadtrip! Daily Game
Board Location: South Dakota
Happiness: Jovial (8)
Energy: Animated (3)
After raiding the piggy bank in the morning (actually Whiskers knocked it off the shelf), we decided to splurge with our newfound coin. Not only did we stay again in a gloriously comfortable lodge after our day in at Wind Cave, but we also spent an evening out on the town having a hot time! This trip is really looking up!