My Travel Philosophy

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011 Vacations in Review (Pt 2)

So, we left Yellowstone by going up through Montana and decided to go to the site of Custer's Last Stand at the Little Bighorn.  At this point, I realized that we were hitting all of these National Parks so I bought a little blue book (Passport to your National Parks).  It gives information on the park system, and provides empty spots to put stamps for each park and, then, you use a rubber stamp to put the date of your visit.  I'm really disappointed that I didn't start this years ago as there are many, many parks and battlefields where I've visited over the years.  Guess I'll have to go back!

The Little Bighorn monument area is, of course, much like Gettysburg in that you're in the middle of a lot of fields (where the battle actually occurred).  There is a cemetery where the soldiers were all buried, a visitor's center, and some beautiful metal sculptures throughout the area.  It was a cold and rainy day, but I really enjoyed being there.

After we left the Little Bighorn area, we headed for Devil's Tower.  Jeff said that we were here years ago when traveling with the boys, but I just don't remember being here.  My only memory of Devil's Tower is Richard Dreyfuss carving it out of mashed potatoes!  We were really lucky because the sun came out and the day turned beautiful when we got there so, as a result, I got some great pictures.  Interestingly, from the ground, it looks like the whole thing is made from cement!

On our way to and from the monument itself, we passed through a prairie dog village and it reminded me of 'whack-a-mole'.  Those little guys just kept popping up out of holes all over the place!

As we continued to travel East, we went through Deadwood, SD and bemoaned the changes that have taken place since the casinos have moved in.  It's definitely not the nice little tourist town it used to be.  Our next destination was Mount Rushmore, and we were both surprised at the changes that have occurred since we were there last.  The visitor's center is much larger and there is an entire plaza leading up to the mountain.  Additionally, there is a wonderful walking path that takes you very near the base of the mountain with viewing spots for each of the individual Presidents.

On an episode of Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls took on the Badlands so I really wanted to take a look up close.  Driving down the road to get to the entrance to the park, we were able to hit an additional place in my Passport:  Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.  It was pretty modest -- just a couple of small buildings with information and pictures of the underground silo that held the missiles.

We walked around the Badlands areas and it was both stunningly beautiful and extremely harsh.  The ground looked like dried mud that would crumble if you tried to touch it.  The striations, though, reminded me of the Grand Canyon and we needed to stay on the wooden decks (paths) that had been erected to allow you to go back onto this unstable surface.  Lots of signs about rattlesnakes, too!

From here, we drove pretty much non-stop to Rice Lake to spend a couple of days with Mom before returning home after an incredibly fun vacation!

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