02.05.2010 - 06.05.2010 10 °C
After some long driving days, we are making surprisingly quick progress across the United States. The landscapes we are driving through are outstanding, and the weather has changed, becoming much colder. Badlands National Park is the first of our trip (and there are many more I'm looking forward to!). The landscape was incredible and the scale was enormous - pictures do not do it justice! It was very cold (less than 10C) so our tourguide Nick did an awesome job and sorted us a 6 bedroom house to stay in for about $5 each for the night!
The next stop was Mount Rushmore...bet you never knew there are actually 5 presidents there!...
Then it was Custer State Park with even more amazing scenery. We camped near Custer and went out in the town in the evening and were the only outsiders in a tiny local bar, and were the centre of attention all night - I don't think some of the people in Custer have ever left the area in their whole lives! The bar had sawdust on the floor and signed dollar bills all over the wall! Very cool! My name is there somewhere - let me know if anyone finds it! And the next morning when we woke up, our tents were covered in snow!! Yes, camping in the snow! Not quite what I had expected but fun all the same!
In the same area is the Crazy Horse Memorial, being sculptured out of the cliffs in a similar way to Mount Rushmore. It was started in 1948 and is being built in memory of the Native American Leader "Crazy Horse". It is taking so long because it is only being funded by the income generated by visitors and being constructed just by the family of the original sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. It was offered a $10million grant by the US Government but they turned it down in protest to the way Mount Rushmore was carved on Native American land. The model sculpture in the picture below is how it will look when finished.
We spent the afternoon in a sleepy mid-Amercian town called Deadwood - very quiet but a really picturesque place, and a really good all-you-can-eat buffet at the casino! That evening we stayed at a campsite right next to Devil's Tower National Monument.
The next day and we spent a few more hours driving through the South Dakota countryside. I'm getting quite good as passing hours at a time in a minibus now! We ended up at another small town called Cody, where it was snowing (again!) and Nick, our tourguide, managed to get us a good deal on some cabins (nice one Nick!). That evening we had another night drinking in a small local bar, and ended up at a houseparty afterwards. It was a good night, and a good hangover the next day - not good on a road trip!