What a day!!! We got up this morning and got breakfast at the same place we had dinner last night – not quite as good as dinner was, but still ok. Then we headed north to Mt. Rushmore. We went around the Wildlife Loop of Custer State Park and then took Iron Mountain Rd. We saw buffalo super close up – like they were crossing the road in front of us close up!!! I took tons of pics and I’ll get them up on Facebook soon. We also saw pronghorn deer and semi-wild burros. And tons of prairie dogs. The burros were used for trail rides (carrying the stuff) but then they stopped doing them and they let them go into the wild. They were coming up to the van and we petted them a little and we got a "car wash" from them – I have burro tongue marks on my window. Eeew. But ever so cool!!! Iron Mountain Rd. was SUPER curvy but some awesome views. We came around one curve and there was Mt. Rushmore in the distance. Wow!! We had to go through a couple of short one-lane tunnels. And then we got to Mt. Rushmore. What an awesome sight!! We took lots of pictures there as well, and we walked around the Presidential Trail – a good hike around the base of the mountain (or closer anyway) and lots of signs about the Presidents and stuff. It was really interesting. We got to see the Sculptor’s Studio and there was a little museum as well about the sculptor and the making of Mt. Rushmore. 90% of the "carving" was done using dynomite! I would highly recommend going to see Mt. Rushmore sometime in your lifetime if you are at all able.
Souvenir shopping was a neat experience. They had one of the original drillers for Mt. Rushmore there today, and he was signing books (one that he wrote). He is the only remaining living driller from the project and it was really neat talking to him. We got a picture with him as well as a book. Then after lunch at the cafe there, we headed out and went back south on the Needle Rd. There is a rock formation that looks like the eye of a needle. I saw it VERY briefly as it was right before a one-lane tunnel, and all the parking spots were taken up and no one looked anywhere near being ready to leave. Come on now people – stop, get out and take a couple of pictures, and get back in your car and get going. Don’t hog the few parking places. Ryan and Robert didn’t even get to see it because it was so quick and we had to go through the tunnel so we didn’t block the road. I guess we’ll have to come back here someday. The road was even curvier than Iron Mountain Rd. – we’re talking U turns where the speed limit is 5 mph sharp curves. It was a BEAUTIFUL drive, though.
Then we stopped at Wind Cave, the 4th longest cave system in the world, and the 7th National Park in the U.S. There is over 160 miles of cave passageways that have been mapped so far, and it’s all within 1 square mile land. WOW!! During our wait for our tour time, we looked at info about the cave and how it was first explored by a 16 year old boy back in the late 1800s and other information about it. Our tour guide was awesome and really knew his stuff and made the tour really interesting. We only walked about 1/4 mile in an hour and 15 minutes, but it was super cool. Most of the boxwork in the world’s caves are in Wind Cave. You can read more about the Wind Cave and boxwork by clicking on those words which I have turned into links. Robert was scared at first when we first went in the cave as it was rather dark and the stairway was narrow. But by the end, he didn’t need a hand at all.
We had a really fun family day today! Once back in Hot Springs, we stopped at a little family restaurant called Dale’s Restaurant. Robert wanted to know why Grampa had a restaurant. LOL The food was pretty good and not too bad price. After we ate, we walked along a little river and there was even a waterfall. It was kind of neat. Then it was back to the hotel to play in the pool for a while and now it’s off to bed.