The following weekend we went to the Mall of America and watched the U.S. play England in the World Cup Soccer Tournament during lunch. We then cruised the mall for the afternoon.
Part of the LGMIP includes two extended weekend excursions, and last weekend we loaded up the van and headed west for a long roadtrip out to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota. On the way, we stopped at the ultimate South Dakota tourist trap, Wall Drug, for a look-see, and the ceremonial placing of the iconic bumper sticker on the van.
After a long, hard drive, we arrived at Rapid City in the late afternoon and checked into our accommodations at the Lazy “U” Motel.
Not wanting to waste any time, we immediately jumped back in the van and headed to Custer State Park to view the wildlife during an early evening drive along Iron Mountain Road. As seen in the photos below, the buffalo did not disappoint us!
After sleeping in the next day, it was off to Mt. Rushmore!
The afternoon was set aside for a trip to Sylvan Lake, and a hike up Harney Peak, the tallest mountain in the Black Hills at 7,200 + feet. It’s a 3.5 mile hike each way, and a minimum of 3 hours roundtrip. But, the view at the top is worth every aching foot of the hike! And, on the way, we were greeted by one of the mountain goats that make their home in the Black Hills area.
The next day, we enjoyed a buffet lunch at the historic State Game Lodge in Custer State Park. The State Game Lodge served as the “Summer White House” for President Calvin Coolidge in 1927 and was visited by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for several days in 1953. It was built in 1920, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After lunch, it was off to visit the Crazy Horse Monument. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear officially started Crazy Horse Memorial June 3, 1948. The Memorial’s mission is to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians. Sixty-two years later, progress has been slow. The plan is very impressive, however, and it will be the largest mountain sculpture in the world when completed.
The next day, we loaded the van early for our long return trip. On the way, we drove through Badlands National Park before continuing the trek back to River Falls.