South Dakota

09/04/05 - 09/10/05
Paul Ridenour

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I create webpages for our vacations for a number of reasons:

1. A record of the trip so that we will never forget
2. Friends and family enjoy the pictures
3. Share information and pictures to the rest of the Internet world
4. Give people an idea of what all they can do and the cost
5. May encourage others to take the same kind of vacation

Dottie and I decided over a month ago to go to South Dakota.  My parents also planned on going to South Dakota at nearly the same time.  They were gone from August 27th through September 2nd.  I am glad they did because they told us about a couple of things that we probably would not have known to do.

With just six days after Hurricane Katrina and gasoline around $3 a gallon, we left for South Dakota in our 4-door Saturn.  By the way, I work with a guy whose ex-wife is named Katrina and several days before Katrina hit the shores, he said "It's going to do a lot of damage!"  

Sunday September 4

Left Dallas at 8:45 AM
Saw a large military convoy heading towards
New Orleans down LBJ Freeway in Dallas (635)
Stopped at James Wood in
Denton and looked at 2005 Corvettes
Had lunch in
Moore, OK, at 12:05
Saw 2 military convoys in
Oklahoma heading south

Kansas has a really nice rest stop and information center that sells gas and has a McDonalds – a 50+ truck military convoy heading to New Orleans was in 5 long lines getting gas at 13 pumps

Saw another military convoy in Kansas heading south
Arrived in
Grand Island, Nebraska, at 7:07 and had dinner
Spent the night at a Super 8 for only $53 with a NRA discount

James Wood in Denton - my next car

Monday September 5

Lots of thunder in the morning and some rain
Left at
Had lunch in North Platte, Nebraska

Had dinner at Mi Cocina in
Hot Springs, South Dakota
Drove through
Wind Cave National Park and saw a bunch of prairie dogs and some buffalo
Driving up to
Rapid City, we saw 17 deer and 17 wild turkeys

Stopped at the Crazy Horse Memorial, Black Hills, SD - www.crazyhorse.org

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse cost $10 a person for 3 days

Black Hills was named after the Ponderosa Pines that look dark from a distance. The Indian name for Black Hills is "Paha Sapa" - The Mountains That Are Black.

The Story of the Crazy Horse Memorial – In 1939, Boston-born Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski won first prize for sculpture at the New York World's Fair with his marble portrait "Paderewski - Study of an Immortal."  Lakota Indian chiefs invited him to carve Crazy Horse in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  In the summer of 1939, he worked briefly as assistant to Gutzon Borglum carving Mt. Rushmore Memorial in the Black Hills.  In 1940, Korczak visits the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD to meet Chief Henry Standing Bear.

Chief Henry Standing Bear said "“My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.”

Korczak learns about Crazy Horse and makes a clay model of Crazy Horse with his right arm outstretched.  With his left hand thrown out pointing in answer to the derisive question asked by a white man, "Where are your lands now?" Crazy Horse replied, "My lands are where my dead lie buried."  Korczak worked by himself for 20 years and twice turned down 10 million dollars from the US Government.  He felt the government would not have done it right and he did not want a handout.  He had a sign displayed saying “SLOW MAN AT WORK.”  During that time, he married and had 10 children.  He died on 10/20/1982.  Before he died, he told his wife to continue but he told his children they did not need to continue working on it if they didn’t want to.  He also told them “Never forget your dreams.”  Today, 7 children and his wife still work at Crazy Horse and have turned it into a money maker with a $10 a person entrance fee, a restaurant, museum, huge book and gift store, workshop, and a nightly laser light show.

"Crazy Horse is being carved not so much as a lineal likeness but more as a memorial to the spirit of Crazy Horse to his people." – Korczak Ziolkowski

The Crazy Horse museum had pictures of Sequoyah and Chief Joseph.

Crazy Horse (Tashunkewitko) - His father was the second Crazy Horse and was Oglala Lakota while his mother Rattling Blanket Woman was Minneconjou Lakota. His grandfather was the first Crazy Horse.  As a boy, he was known as Light Hair, Curly, and then by his teens he was called His Horse Stands in Sight. He was called Crazy Horse by the time he was 20 and was the last in his family to carry the name.  Crazy Horse was a born warrior and never signed a treaty.  He married three times and had one daughter named They Are Afraid of Her who died at age 3.  He was killed by another Indian before age 33.  He was a handsome man with a perfect body but there are no official pictures of him.  The Lakota Indians chose Crazy Horse for the memorial because he was a hero to them and they chose the Black Hills because the area is sacred to them.  Crazy Horse said that after he was dead, put his remains in the river and he will return to life.  His remains were never put in the river and therefore, he never came back to life.  The Lakota Nation believes that the Crazy Horse Memorial is his return to life.

Arrived at the Best Western Town and Country in Rapid City at 8:30 PM ($69 a night with NRA discount)

Downtown Rapid City is neat because it has bronze statues of famous people and presidents like Reagan.

Mr. Prairie Dog

Wild Turkeys - Can you count them all?  I see 11.

Tuesday September 6

Left at 7:30 AM
Visited Bear Country
USA – saw elk, wolves, bears, bighorn sheep - $12 a person
Visited Mt. Rushmore  (President Reagan should be added) - $4 a person
Had rib-eye for lunch in Custer at Cattleman’s/Chief Café
Jewel Cave ($4 a person) and Wind Cave ($9 a person)
Drove the loop through
Custer State Park ($12 per car for 7 days) and saw buffalo, antelope, and hundreds of prairie dogs
Driving in the late afternoon we saw a bunch of deer playing along the road and some running across the road as it got dark
Ate ribs and buffalo burger at the Steak-N-Ribs Place in Custer

Arrived at Crazy Horse at 8:30 PM for the laser light show and night blast [A Night blast is done twice a year – once to commemorate the Sept. 6, 1877, death of Oglala Lakota leader Crazy Horse and the Sept. 6, 1908, birth of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski.  The other night is for his wife Ruth’s birthday.]

Black bear in Bear Country USA [near Rapid City]

Mountain Goats


Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore from State Highway 244

Mt. Rushmore at night

Jewel Cave (this is a white light but looks green in photos due to something in the air)

Crystals in Jewel Cave

Limestone "Box Work" at Wind Cave

"Box Work" up close

Showy Asters were all over South Dakota


Wednesday September 7

Left at 9:30 AM
Took the 11:00 AM "1880 Steam Train" [$19 a person] from Keystone to
Hill City, South Dakota [3 hour roundtrip] – saw 2 deer and a bunch of wild turkey
Had lunch in
Hill City at the Mt. Rushmore Brewing Co. [buffalo fajita wrap]
Drove through Needles Highway
Drove around Stockade Lake

Spent more time at Crazy Horse in the gift shop and ate dinner there.  Met a nice man named Reed Parker and his dog Alexis.
We wanted to get a closer view of the Crazy Horse laser light show.  We sat in our car and were parked on the front row.

Needles Highway [State Highway 87 near Custer State Park] - named for the rock formations

Stockade Lake

Crazy Horse up close

Crazy Horse model - the monument should be completed in 35 to 75 years

Crazy Horse at night - multi-colored lights and laser light show

During the laser light show, several animated characters, symbols, words, and famous Indians [including Sequoyah] were displayed on the monument including Oglala Sioux Principal Chief Red Cloud's quote - "They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land and they took it."

Red Cloud was born near the forks in the Platte River in north-central Nebraska to Lone Man and Walks As She Thinks.  Red Cloud had a brother named Roaring Cloud.

I bought a T-shirt at Crazy Horse with our founding fathers at Mt. Rushmore which also included the original founding fathers - Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Red Cloud.  That is not really true because Geronimo was born 1825, Chief Joseph born circa 1840, Sitting Bull born circa 1831, and Red Cloud born circa 1822, but you get the picture.  George Washington for example was born in 1732.  Indians called him Town Destroyer. Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 and while he was president, the US Army took 303 Sioux prisoners following the conflict known as the Minnesota Uprising.  The Sioux were sentenced to hang for crimes committed against settlers.  Lincoln commuted most of the condemned, yet on 12/26/1862, Lincoln signed the order to hang 38 Sioux, making it the largest mass execution in US history. 

The white paint on the right is the future ear and head of the horse 

The four heads of Mt. Rushmore will fit behind the head of the Crazy Horse monument indicating just how large this sculpture is

Crazy Horse - lights outlining the monument with what the final sculpture will look like

Thursday September 8

Had breakfast at the Colonial House right next door to our Best Western [eggs, buffalo sausage]
Rapid City at 10:15 and drove to Sturgis.  Bought several Sturgis 2005 Black Hills Rally caps
Drove to Devils Tower in
Wyoming [$10 per car to see the monument] and walked the 1.3 miles around it [my parents did not go to Devils Tower probably due to the fact that my 69 year-old mother spent too much time looking for a leather halter top in Sturgis]

Devils Tower was the "first" national monument.

Devils Tower is sacred to many Native Americans and there were several prayer cloths hanging in the surrounding trees.  I do not know if the prayer cloths came from Native Americans or just plain New Age pagans.  I do know that the "only" God said man should "worship the Creator and not the [His] creation."  The Bible also says that if man does not worship God, the rocks will - "But He answered and said to them, 'I tell you that if these should keep silent [the multitude], the stones would immediately cry out." Luke 19:40.  That is my sermon for today.

Had lunch in Sundance, Wyoming
Drove through Spearfish, South Dakota, on our way to
Savoy, South Dakota
had three waterfalls and an area where the "Winter Camp Site" scene was filmed for the movie “Dances With Wolves”
Ate at the
Savoy restaurant called Latchstrings [buffalo steak and Chocolate Decadence]
Saw 7 deer including a fawn that was hit by a car in front of us and died
Drove to Deadwood,
South Dakota, and spent the night in the Celebrity Hotel ($89)
We stayed in Room 206 [the Audrey Hepburn room – one of
Dottie’s favorite actresses]

Rooms around us included the John Wayne Suite [203], Clark Gable [201], Humphrey Bogart [205], Marilyn Monroe [202], and Elvis Presley [204]

The hotel had famous movie cars like Herbie the Love Bug and James Bond’s Aston Martin, motorcycles like Evil Knievel’s, and guitars signed by Sheryl Crow, Paul McCartney, the Police, the Eagles, Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, the Monkees, etc., and other memorabilia

Shopped at Shedd Jewelers, a F. L. Thorpe Co. jewelry store which sells Langstrum’s Black Hills Gold
Lost $25.50 in the Celebrity Hotel slot machines

Devils Tower, Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
[Devils Tower had a starring role in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977)
and a cameo role in the movie "My Darling Clementine" (1946)]

Savoy, South Dakota
[Reminds me of an Electric Light Orchestra lyric - "Early in the morning, the sun is up and the sky is a very blue."]

Roughlock Falls - Savoy
Settlers had to put their covered wagons in roughlock gear because it was so steep and rough in the area

I have no idea what the name of this wildflower is (and it's driving me crazy) but I found it at the Roughlock Falls in Savoy, SD

Spearfish Falls - Savoy

Deadwood, South Dakota

Firebird from "Smokey and the Bandit" - Celebrity Hotel, Deadwood, SD

Paul McCartney signed Hofner  bass - Celebrity Hotel, Deadwood, SD

Friday September 9

Deadwood is just an old mining town and at one time, prostitution was legal.  Prostitution was only outlawed in 1980 and the local town folk were upset.  Downtown Deadwood is now pretty much nothing but gambling casinos.  Wild Bill Hickok was shot in Deadwood at Saloon No. 10 while playing poker.  He is buried in the Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.  Martha Jane Burke, or Calamity Jane, was just a “part-time” prostitute and that may have been due to her looks.  She “believed” that she and Wild Bill were sweethearts and when she died, her last wish was to be buried next to him and she was.

While Dottie was getting ready, I visited the Mt. Moriah Cemetery to see Wild Bill and Calamity Jane’s graves.  Cost me $1 to get in.  Never paid to go into a cemetery before except for the Arlington Cemetery near DC.

We looked at John Wayne’s truck at a nearby hotel
Picked up some jewelry at Shedd Jewelers
Visited the free museum in Deadwood called
Adams Museum – lots of pictures of Calamity Jane – only one made her look like a woman

Drove to Wall, South Dakota, and visited the famous Wall Drugs, where in 1931 they provided free ice to folks and still do today.  Military, veterans, and law officers get free coffee and donuts.  Coffee for everyone else is 5 cents.

We ate lunch there and it was expensive – ham sandwich, potato salad, drinks, and a cherry pie for $18.  It was very good though especially the potato salad and cherry pie.  I noticed that almost all of the employees were from Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic.  I asked why and was told there is a student exchange program.

After Wall Drugs, we visited the local Wounded Knee Museum which was a very nice exhibit.  I bought a T-shirt with 4 Apache Indians (Geronimo, Yahnoza, Chappo, and Fun) with guns that reads - "Homeland Security - Fighting Terrorism Since 1492."

The Lakota Indians consist of seven independent bands - Brule' (Burnt Thighs), Oglala (Scatter One's Own), Minneconjou (People of the Water), Hunkpapa (Camp at Entrance), Sans Arc (Without Bows), Oohenumpa (Two Kettle), and Sihapsa (Blackfoot).

In 1980, the United States vs. Sioux Nation of Indians ruled that taking the Black Hills land by the US Government from the Lakota Nation was illegal.  The US Government owes the Lakota Nation $17.5 million [$105 million with interest].  The Lakota Nation turned the money down insisting that they wanted their land back.  As of 2002, the settlement money with interest reached $500 million.

Drove through The Badlands where we saw antelope, deer, buffalo, prairie dogs, and mountain goats
Driving through
Nebraska one sees a lot of cornfields, sunflower fields, and soybean fields
Spent the night again in
Grand Island at the Holiday Inn for $74 at night
We didn’t arrive until almost midnight

Where Wild Bill Hickok was murdered - original bar burned down [Deadwood]

Mt. Moriah Cemetery [Deadwood] - Wild Bill Hickok (James Butler Hickok] with Calamity Jane [Martha Jane Burke] buried to his left

Handsome Calamity Jane

The Badlands

Badlands Mountain Goat

Badland Bison

Some color in the Badlands

South Dakota Sunflowers

Saturday September 10

Left at 10:30 AM
Arrived at
6 PM in Norman, Oklahoma, and ate dinner with high school buddy (and proxy doctor) Dr. Mark McKinnon and family
Left there at
8:30 and arrived home close to midnight
Average gas mileage was 30-33 MPG and we drove 2,900 miles (total gas cost $256)

Took 528 digital photographs using a Sony Mavica 1.6 megapixels with built-in 30X zoom and a Sony Mavica CD-500 with 5 megapixels


Custer (SD) - the town had several uniquely painted and decorated buffalo statues