Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Transcontinental Trek 2011 Day 3: Rapid City, SD to Bozeman, MT
It seems weird to see the Black Hills Forest in the middle of this seemingly endless prairie. But, here it is, tall Ponderosa Pines stretching high toward the sky. Like Colorado, the Black Hills has experienced a pine beetle infestation. Park staff has been working very hard to thin the forest to a more sustainable condition and to protect scenic old growth trees.
Now there is a gigantic parking garage, and multiple buildings with a Visitor’s Center, a Gift Shop, a Café, an Ice Cream Shop, Restrooms, and the Avenue of Flags. It is quite impressive - very windy too. We got here at the right time of day. There are only a few cars in the parking lot – which could probably hold 500 vehicles including RVs and busses. We need our windbreakers, even though it is in the 60’sF.
It was the dream of Doane Robinson, the superintendent of the South Dakota State Historical Society to create a massive mountain memorial carved from stone so large it would put South Dakota on the map. He enlisted the help of Senator Peter Norbeck and sculptor Borglum and together they chose the four great presidential figures for the carving to symbolize the birth, growth, preservation and development of a nation dedicated to democracy and the pursuit of individual liberty.
We saw a chipmonk, white-winged race of Dark-eyed Junco along the Avenue of Flags, as well as Red Crossbills and White-throated Swifts. Pine Siskins were flying around the entrance to the monument, too.
We stopped down in Keystone and picked up some postcard stamps and headed back to Rapid City. Yesterday, we smelled something burning and we thought it was something electrical under the hood of the truck. Today, the cigarette lighters have stopped working. We’ve been using both of them to power our laptops, charge phones, etc. We called Andy at Spring Street – thank goodness they’re open at 7:30am – I was so relieved to hear Gretchen’s voice! Andy suggested we check the fuse, and sure enough it was blown. We stopped in the Ford dealership in Rapid City to replace the fuse and see if we need to have the wiring checked. We changed the fuse, but still no power in the front cigar plug. The backseat plug works, though. No mechanic available to look at the truck until tomorrow. We decided to just use the back plug and keep going toward Bozeman.
We reached Sheridan, WY at 3pm in a steady downpour and strong winds – 41F. We’ve gone 1600 miles so far on our transcontinental Trek. By 3:40pm, we were entering Montana – still raining and windy and a little cooler – 38F. The rain finally ended around 6pm and by 7:30pm we were in Bozeman.
By 9:30pm we were heading to the Days Inn and before 10pm, Dave was sound asleep. He has slept better on this trip than he has in months. Maybe we should change our professions to over the road trucking!