Backing up a bit, on the way to Rapid City, I drove through Badlands National Park. The scenery was spectacular!
I even stopped for a few short walks.
And of course I had to stop at Wall Drug. Not sure why... Coming across South Dakota, there are hundreds of billboards for Wall Drug, so it must be good. Well, at least they had a parking lot big enough for RVs a block away.
I settled into a forest campground west of town, and went on several day trips. On my first stop, I started off on the trail around beautiful Sylvan Lake.
Awwwww, how cute!
Except for the fact that I had to watch where I stepped!
Unfortunately, the water was high and this part of the trail was under water, so I turned around.
And went on down the Needles Highway to the "Eye of the Needle."
You mean I have to go through there???
There are several of these tunnels, and 3 of them have views of Mount Rushmore.
From a distance, the heads look tiny, but still impressive.
The next day, I went into Mount Rushmore. But at the entrance, everyone was looking away from the monument and taking pictures. Why?
Four big military helicopters were getting a good view!
Inside the gate, you get a much better view of this amazing sculpture.
Afterwards, I walked around trying to get a view of the backside -
The WIN circuit was scheduled to go next to Bismark, ND, but several of us chose to go to a campground near Rapid City instead. Why? This was the annual Volksmarch to the top of Crazy Horse. Even though I did this 5 years ago, I was anxious to do it again.
Even though there is a road to the top, they route you through the woods, up and down the hills, to make this a 10K hike.
Finally, we get on a decent trail.
I'm going up there!
We're getting closer -
And then the trail goes around to the other side.
I made it!
There's a big crowd up here (as many as 15,000 do the Volksmarch) -
But I still practiced taking a selfie.
Our group of 5 at the top - Garth, Randy, Christy, Me, and Mary Kevin.
To be able to see the detail up there is just amazing!
Looking down to where we started. We got to walk down the direct route.
We saw a fire off in the distance.
On our way down, we went over to the tunnel, underneath Crazy Horse's arm.
Standing there was Adam, 3rd child (out of 10) of Korczak Ziolkowski, the original sculptor.
He was standing in front of his Dad's photo. If completed, it will be the world's largest sculpture. It was begun in 1948.
On the way down, we saw some interesting wildlife...
We made it!
And I have evidence to prove it! It was a fantastic day!
My next stop on the WINs Lewis & Clark circuit was Pierre, the capitol of South Dakota. On the way there, I stopped at a rest area in Chamberlain, SD, where there was a 50-ft tall statue called Dignity of Earth & Sky.
In Pierre, we stayed at Griffin Park, a city park right along the Missouri River.
All over the town are statues of all the governors of South Dakota.
The first thing we did was go see the Capitol.
We even had our own private tour, provided by a volunteer.
On the lower level are dolls dressed like the First Ladies for their inaugural balls, made out of the actual material of the original dresses.
Of course the big attraction was the rotunda. I was getting a crook in my neck trying to get a picture...
But Ken had the right idea!
This capitol looks almost exactly like the one in Montana, because they were built from the same plans.
We saw the Senate chambers -
With its stained glass ceiling...
And the House chambers, with its equally beautiful ceiling.
Outside, on Capitol Lake, is the World War II Memorial. There are 6 bronze statues, representing the different roles south Dakotans played in the war.
I love the way they are painted.
The water in the lake comes from a warm artesian well, and never freezes in winter. The Canada geese really love it, and there is evidence of that all around...
The water is so warm that steam rises, and makes the pictures really weird.
On another day, we had a tour of the Oahe dam and power plant, on the Missouri River.
After our dam tour, we all went out to lunch and had local walleye. It was absolutely the best fish I had ever eaten!
And then the next day, we had a boat ride on a paddle wheel boat. It's docked at the confluence of the Bad River and the Missouri, exactly where Lewis and Clark first met up with Indians on their trip West.
The Captain started out by saying that the boat hadn't sunk in almost a year! Hmmm.... Then we had to go under a bridge and we just barely made it. It was a very fun and entertaining ride!
All too soon, we paddled back to our dock.
The group. You can barely see me peaking out from behind Mark.
The WINs also did this trip back in 2010, and I was on that one too. That time we got interviewed for the local newspaper!