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Absolute Tenacity

More Than Mount Rushmore

Four Presidential Faces engraved into/out of the rocky mountainside; the National Monument they call Mount Rushmore: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln..

Hello and welcome! If you’re new to the story, we began in Galveston three days ago!  My sister and I (and her two kiddos) have now arrived safely in Hill City, South Dakota. The room reservations were made in advance and thankfully everything was in order! We’ve been looking forward to exploring this area because it holds much more than Mount Rushmore!

Spring Creek Inn, in Hill City

Our hotel, Spring Creek Inn is a one-level hotel tucked into the hills of South Dakota near Mount Rushmore.
Spring Creek Inn

Comfortably tucked into the quiet hills of South Dakota, we lodged at a locally owned place called Spring Creek Inn. All of the rooms are at ground level, and each room had a parking spot directly in front of its door. They are close to “everything” including Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse exhibit, Deadwood, and of course Mt. Rushmore.

Grill & Chill at Spring Creek Inn

Colorful embers rise above the firepit at Spring Hill Inn. A barbecue and a fire pit are located in the common area where you Grill and Chill.
Fire Pit at Spring Hill Inn, near Mount Rushmore

Bring your own food and cook it on their gas grill. And then chill at the fire pit after sunset! Optionally, bring your binoculars for bird watching and stargazing!  


Making Hotel Reservations

We found Hill City to be centrally located to the sights we wanted to see. But there are several areas with clusters of hotels. And if you don’t know about Booking.com, let me introduce you! They will help you find the best rates on the best rooms (or cottages!). So check it out!

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Mount Rushmore

Look down the sidewalk lined with flags. Just raise your chin a little, and there it is! Four Presidential Faces etched into the side of a mountain: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. i.e, Mount Rushmore
Mt Rushmore at the end of a walkway

Mount Rushmore National Monument is completely accessible by foot, bicycle, wheelchair, or stroller.  An ADA walkway escorted us from the parking garage directly into the pavilion.  

Four Presidential Faces engraved into/out of the rocky mountainside; the National Monument they call Mount Rushmore: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln..
National Monument: Mount Rushmore

As you look down the sidewalk lined with flags, raise your chin a little, and there it is! Four Presidential Faces engraved into the side of the mountain: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Mount Rushmore was a quick stop. But that’s okay because this area has way more than Mount Rushmore!

Drive Wildlife Loop Road Counter-Clockwise

A close up of Mt Rushmore framed by the mouth of a very narrow tunnel. This is one of several tunnels that aligns this way, but you must travel counter-clockwise on the loop! The picture has a dark outer rim, with a bright center. In the middle is Mt Rushmore with pink and yellow highlights in the sky. (Sunset)
Thru a Tunnel

There is a driving loop around Custer State Park, called Wildlife Loop Road.  When you take this drive, I recommend traveling in a counter-clockwise direction. The reason is that there are several narrow tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore. This means that you can see Mt. Rushmore at the end of the tunnel, providing photo opportunities!

There is No Horse at Crazy Horse. Yet.

In the background is Crazy Horse and me in the center of the frame! More than Mount Rushmore, this is Crazy Horse!
Crazy Horse and Me

As I may have mentioned, this area has a lot to see: Way more than just Mount Rushmore! Take, for example, Crazy Horse. This isn’t actually a National Monument but a non-profit organization. 

A Work in Progress

Crazy Horse - Full Face - Taken in 1996 when you could walk up to the face of the monument.
Full Face – 1996

After our trip, once we arrived back home, my parents shared some pictures from their last trip in 1996. That was when they were allowed to walk all the way up to his face! Wow! Great shots! Thanks for sharing these, Mom!

Crazy Horse in 1997 is Fatter

Crazy Horse Monument taken in 1997 shows the mountainside much bulkier and thicker than the 2021 photo, suggesting that they have done a lot of work since 1996
1997 Side View of Crazy Horse

Shaving down the rough edges of this mountain is arduous work! And progress is very slow. For example, in the photo above, look at all of the rock near the base. And in the photo below, notice how the sides of the monument are smoother; more slender!

Crazy Horse in 2021 is Slimmer

Side View of Crazy Horse Monument in 2021 shows the mountain side shaved-down and smoothed-out considerably.
2021 Side View of Crazy Horse

See what I mean? They have carved away all of the unnecessary parts, and they are beginning to define the horse in Crazy Horse!

A Full Scale Model

This is a Full scale model of what the monument will look like when it's done: A Native American sitting straight (seems unlikely) on a horse with its head down and one hoof raised
Crazy Horse Full Scale Model 1996

This statue is the full-scale model from which they are working. They are using this as an example. Eventually, everything that is not part of the finished product will be removed, leaving only Chief Crazy Horse and his horse.

They plan to add a horse by removing existing rock
Future Plans

It’s not clear to me how they will add his headpiece. Nor is it clear if they intend to include the copyright logo on his right hip. (Humor.) But overall, I’d say they’ve got quite a project going!

The Needles Eye at Custer State Park

A Rock Formation with a hole in it.
A rock formation called The Needles Eye

This unusual rock formation is called The Needles Eye. The site has a small parking area so you can get out of your vehicle and take a good look at this rock and the surrounding terrain. 

A very narrow tunnel allows only one way of traffic at a time! The sign reads "Needles Eye Tunnel"
Needles Eye Tunnel and Sign

When you get back in your car, you must drive through a single-lane tunnel bearing the same name: Needles Eye Tunnel.

Wild Donkeys at Custer State Park

Mama and Baby Donkey by the roadside. Both of them are white, but the baby has grey spots.
Mama and Baby Donkey

While we were driving around Custer State Park, we saw wild donkeys walking near the roadside. Several cars had pulled over to take pictures, causing a bit of a traffic jam, but nobody was complaining! Besides, the donkeys seem to be enjoying the attention.

Patriot Rallies on the 4th

A Group of 5 people gathered at the event, some are wearing t-shirts from the online show called "And We Know". Taken at Watson Park in Keystone, near Mount Rushmore
New Friends!

While we were here, we saw more than Mount Rushmore. In fact, as I may have mentioned in a prior post, there was a specific reason for visiting during the 4th of July holiday. Two patriots that I follow on social media were planning events during that time.  I find their messages hopeful and inspiring, so I wanted to support their efforts.

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At Watson Park in Keystone

The front of a tour bus reads, "ARISE USA The Resurretion TOur. Constitutional Counties, Faith, Family, Freedom. #UNRIG Join the Fight: BigBatUSA.org"
Arise USA Tour Bus

Robert David Steele was one of those people.  He hosted an event on the morning of the 4th at Watson Park in Keystone. A gazebo provided a place for the sound stage. Several people did presentations: actors, musicians, and political speakers. And all of them were making valid points about election fraud and forced vaccines. 

At the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis

Scott McKay Patriot Street Fighter Tour Bus
Scott McKay Patriot Street Fighter Tour Bus

The other rally was hosted by Scott McKay. He too exposes election fraud and has a low tolerance for bullshit.  This event was held in Sturgis at The Buffalo Chip in the heat of the afternoon.

A Party on the Fourth of July

A very tall woman with long dark hair, wearing a red-white-and-blue flag dress, and a red cowboy hat with red stars, stands next to a short woman who is also dressed in red white and blue.
Patriot Hugs

The tour bus made a nice backdrop behind the stage because it was decorated in patriotic colors. Sasha Stone was mingling in the crowd, posing for pictures and making friends.

This is a picture of me wearing a red white and blue ball-cap, with bling! And a patriotic t-shirt. Taken on the 4th of July 2021. More than mount rushmore, this is sturgis south dakota!
Patriot Me!

Music was playing, and patriots were setting up chairs in the sunshine.  I didn’t stay for the entire event, but it was great seeing the support.

More than Mount Rushmore: This is Historic Deadwood

Covered Wagon in Deadwood, located about an hour north of Mount Rushmore
Covered Wagon

Having spent three glorious non-traveling days in Spring Hill, seeing more than Mount Rushmore, it was time to move on.  Historic Deadwood is just an hour north of here, and it’s on our way to Devils Tower which is the next destination.

Have You Seen the Series?

Brick Building with Seafoam Green Trim in Deadwood which is near Mount Rushmore.
Brick Building in Deadwood

It was the Gold Rush in the late 1800s that put this little town on the map.  Both my sister and I had seen the Deadwood series on TV and we were excited to poke around this little town to see if any of it aligned with the show! 

Underwhelmed and Overrated

The main street in Deadwood shows brick two-story buildings with stores below (and presumably living quarters above)
Deadwood Buildings

Well, for all the hype, Deadwood was decidedly underwhelming.  The main street was lined with dozens of crowded shops, and the map they provided was difficult to read. All of the sights we wanted to see were either closed, closed for the day, or too expensive for our tastes. 

Sisters Will Argue

A sign on the streets of Deadwood reads: Old Style Saloon No.10
Old Style Saloon No.10

Pushed to our limits, with the crowds and crappy service, we finally had a huge argument, right there on the streets of Deadwood. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it rained.

The argument, like the rain, put a big grey cloud over everything and caused us to question our travel plans! This is only day six! Is it possible to spend three weeks together? 

Unrealistic Expectations

An open coffin, standing on its end, with signs that read, "Used Coffins (used only once)" and "Get Fit For a Wood Coat" and "Try Me on for Size"
Used Coffins

Both of us agreed it was the EXPECTATIONS that did us in: we expected Deadwood to be something it wasn’t. And then we were disappointed when it didn’t meet or exceed our expectations. 

Booking.com

Additionally, because of the pandemic, businesses were having trouble finding and keeping employees. Nobody wanted to work because they were getting more money being on pandemic unemployment! So the service was really bad throughout the entire trip. Not just Deadwood.

Once we got it all sorted out, we had a good laugh, and the phrase Deadwood came to mean drama. For example, “Let’s not go all Deadwood on this.”  Regroup, shake it off! And map out the next stop: Devils Tower.

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