Just like the previous day, we had to be on the bus by 6:30am. The reason for this is that we had to travel from Colorado all the way to South Dakota. It’s about 360 miles from our hotel to our first location, which is equivalent to roughly around 6 hours of driving. Yikes! After our long drive the day before, I definitely was not looking forward to spending more time on the bus, but I knew that we were going to see Mt. Rushmore today, so I figured it was worth it. I passed the time alternating between listening to my audiobook, sleeping and enjoying the view.
Stadium just outside our hotel
The view outside my window looked like this for most of the day:
Lots and lots of space, with a few occasional trees, houses and animals
We passed by an area that was affected by some sort of forest fire, leaving behind a lot of dead trees in its wake:
Pictures of some of the buses travelling with us taken during one of our pit stops
By noon, we were still on the road and getting quite hungry (we haven’t stopped for lunch) so Ezra and I munched on these humongous strawberries we bought at the grocery the night before
We arrived at our first stop for the day, The Crazy Horse Memorial, at around 1pm
For those who aren’t familiar with Crazy Horse (I’ve never heard of him before this trip), he was a was a Native American chief/war leader. The Crazy Horse memorial is where his monument can be seen.
According to brochures (and Wikipedia), Korczak Ziolkowski, a sculptor who assisted in the carving of Mount Rushmore, began working on the monument in the early 1900’s after being contacted by a Native American chief. The Chief wished to have a monument of the great Crazy Horse put up because he “would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too“.
Tim leading us through the museum to see the Crazy Horse monument
There it is
A little closer:
Can’t make out the monument? I don’t blame you. You’ll see why in a moment.
It was raining pretty heavily that day, but that didn’t stop us from trying to get pictures with this historical landmark
I had to burn the mountain a bit in Photoshop because the rain and fog blew out all the details in the photo.
The reason you probably can’t perceive the monument is because this is what it currently looks like:
So far it’s just a face, a small arch and an outline of a horse head.
This is what it’s supposed to look like when it’s finished:
Still a long ways to go if you ask me.
I’m not sure how long it will take to finish since construction appears to have stopped. (There were no people working on the monument while we were there.) According to the internetz, they were able to finish Crazy Horse’s face back in 1998, but so far it appears as though that’s the only thing that’s been completed.
We stayed for a bit outside to try to make sense of the mountain before heading back in. (We hadn’t seen the smaller statue inside the museum yet at this time, so we didn’t know what the final monument was supposed to look like…)
But before we headed inside…
Time for a little retouch XD Ezra was wondering why she looked really pale in the photos, and she realized she forgot to apply her lipstick that morning XD
We spent a little time in the gift shop looking at the merchandise
My mom bought this postcard as a souvenir
Ezra was starving by this time (our last real meal was 7 hours ago) so she went to grab a hotdog at the restaurant next door. I followed her shortly after she left:
I found her sitting in the corner, scarfing down a bison hot dog all by her lonesome. Poor Ez. I took a bite of the bison hot dog but it tasted just like a regular hot dog to me.
They served free coffee at the restaurant. I normally don’t drink anything with caffeine but I had a little to warm myself up because I was shivering from the cold. After Ezra finished her meal, we went back inside the museum to continue looking around. We found my dad wandering around by himself because my mom was taking forever at the gift shop (as usual XD)
Teepee! (I love that word :D)
This is what was inside:
Lots of creepy dolls reenacting a typical Native American home
This one too. Brrr~
Tasunka Witko is Crazy Horse’s Native American name. Supposedly it translates to “His-Horse-Is-Crazy”.
Colorful Native American beads
Found another creepy doll
But not as creepy as Ezra. Whatchu lookin’ at?
Supposedly there are some alleged photos of Crazy Horse, but many historians are skeptical about its authenticity. (I’m very curious to see how a sculpture of me would look like if someone only had “word pictures” to base it on.)
Beautiful Nature Gates at the visitor center. It’s not that obvious in this photo but those gold details are actually silhouettes of different animals.
At around 1:45pm, we headed back to the bus so we could move on to our next location – Mount Rushmore! YAAAAY! This was one of the stops I was most excited about on this 7-day tour 😀
We arrived at Mt. Rushmore at around 2:20pm.
Lovely pillars at the entrance
I managed to take this photo from the bus window by zooming in on my camera. I knew we were going to get closer, but I couldn’t wait
It’s so beautiful!~
My parents got addicted to coconut water during this trip so we always had some with us wherever we went. We don’t normally take it with us when we get off the bus, but we planned on having lunch here so my mom asked me to bring it with me. It wouldn’t fit in my bag so I had to carry it around until we made it to the cafe.
What do you think? Can I be the next face of ZICO coconut water?
We can use the slogan “No family vacation is complete without ZICO coconut water“.
We were excited to look around and get closer to the monument, but we were also EXTREMELY hungry at this point, so we decided to grab some lunch first.
Inside Carver’s Cafe.
After stuffing ourselves with some bison meat (which tasted a lot like beef) it was time for us to go out and explore this historical place
Pathway leading to the viewing deck
Getting closer 😀
Some obligatory tourist shots:
Some photos which Airish (Irish? I still don’t know how to spell her name) took for us:
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Hai guiseee~ ^___^ I couldn’t believe that I was seeing Mt. Rushmore in person. I see it in books and movies all the time, so it felt surreal standing in front of the real thing. It’s a lot smaller than I expected (or maybe it’s because we were still a good distance away), but it’s still magnificent. I guess this is one thing I can cross off my bucket list 😀
After this, it was time for us to get back on the bus again. Tim was very strict on time because our last stop for the day was Bear Country, which closes at 5pm. According to him, we had to make it there before 4pm because they wouldn’t let us in otherwise. Luckily, everyone made it to the bus on time and our driver was able to get us to Bear Country with 10 minutes to spare.
Bear Country is a safari-type drive through park. They have lots of animals native to the area which you can see as you cruise around. And, just like the name suggest, they have lots of bears. I’m not going to bore you by showing you pictures of all the animals we saw, but here are some that I found interesting enough to share with you
Confession time : I was already in my 20’s when I found out that reindeer do exist. Before that I always thought that they were made up creatures (like unicorns) who drive Santa around during Christmas.
Fluffy white wolves 😀
Uhh … ram thing? (I’m terrible at identifying animals). I thought his horns were interesting 😀
It’s Don Valentino!! Ezra was jumping with excitement when she saw them
And now, for the main attraction : the bears
I’ve seen bears in zoos before – many times – but the bears in this place has got to be the fattest and fluffiest ones I’ve seen in my life!! I just wanted to get off the bus and hug them! (Of course that would probably result to them ripping me apart and eating me alive …)
Look at them! Look at those chubby paws!
They were wandering all over the place. Our bus got held up for about 5 minutes because one of these little fellas decided to take a load off and sit in the middle of the road. We weren’t allowed to use our horns or hurt them in any way, so we had to wait until he (or she) decided to get up and walk around again
The bears were kept in a separate area away from the goats and deer, but they were placed together with the wolves
Maybe because these guys can take care of themselves and they don’t have to worry about the bears attacking them
All the wildlife were free to wander around the park, but they were able to separate the deer, goats, and other animals with hooves by using a cattle guard. These are horizontal bars on the ground which makes it hard for hoofed animals to cross them. They also have a small electrical charge to keep the bears from crossing them.
After this, Tim dropped us off near the entrance where they had this mini-zoo thing for smaller animals. I think the park called it “Babyland”. My parents rushed into the gift shop to escape the rain and the cold, but Ezra and I decided to have a look around. There was a huge crowd near one of the pens so Ezra and I rushed over there to see what the commotion was all about. This is what we found:
Little baby bears!! Kyaaaaah~
So so so cuuuute!
I think there were about 5 cubs in the pen. They were so adorable and fuzzy 😀
Again, I won’t bore you by making you look through all the photos I took of the small animals, but here are two that caught my interest:
A porcupine! I’ve never seen a porcupine before. I thought they would be tiny little creatures but they turned out to be pretty big. (Well, bigger than what I imagined – I thought they would be small enough to fit in my palm)
Adorable artic foxes. Awwwww~ Look at their precious sleeping faces 😀
After this, Ezra and I walked around the area to take some more photos:
All bundled up to protect from the cold. Unfortunately the rain started getting worse so we ended up having to take refuge in the gift shop as well. It was filled with all sorts of bear merchandise
They had a restroom inside with this cute mirror:
This huge fella stood guard over the gift shop
They also had plenty of deer-related goodies there
Like this Christmas tree decorated with antlers
Hmm … not sure what you would use this for
My mom ended up buying a little bear figurine and I picked up a shot glass for Ckloy’s collection. After we paid, we headed back to our bus and our group made its way to our final stop for the evening – Gillette, Wyoming. Before going to the hotel, Tim took us to have dinner first.
This was around 7pm, look how light the sky is again!
Most of our group grabbed dinner at a nearby Chinese buffet, but we weren’t that hungry yet since we had a late lunch. We figured it would be a waste of money to go into a buffet when we knew we wouldn’t be able to eat that much, so we used up the hour Tim gave going grocery shopping instead. But, while we were waiting for the rest of the group to finish eating, we noticed a sign outside the Chinese restaurant which said that they allowed take-outs at the buffet. For $12 they would give you a styrofoam container and you can fill it up with anything you want, and with as much food as you wish. We ended up buying two containers for $24. We packed it with loads of food which we happily consumed in our hotel room later that evening 😀 Much cheaper than paying $10 per head at the buffet, and much more comfortable than having to stuff yourself within one hour in a crowded restaurant XD
The food Ezra and I shared consisted of some sweet and sour pork, gyoza, tater tots, mushroom and fried rice. And if I remember correctly I had some sting beans hiding under the rice there as well 😀
After this Tim took us to our hotel for the night. I can’t remember the name, but I do remember that it only had 1 elevator, so you can imagine how chaotic it was in the lobby. But eventually we all managed to get on the elevator to get to our respective rooms (some people in the lower floors decided to just take the stairs). It was an eventful day and we were exhausted, so we spent the rest of the evening watching TV while we ate our Chinese take out and strawberries 🙂 I topped the night off with a nice relaxing soak in the tub 🙂 According to our itinerary, our destination for the following day was Yellowstone National Park (this is the Yellowstone tour after all), so I went to bed feeling very excited 😀
- Yellowstone Tour (Day 1 of 7) : AKA “The day we almost got left behind in Los Angeles”
- Yellowstone Tour (Day 2 of 7) : Arches National Park
- Yellowstone Tour (Day 4 of 7) : A date with Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
- Yellowstone Tour (Day 5 of 7) : Freeloader Picnic and Elk Antlers (Grand Teton, Jackson Hole and Salt Lake City)
- Yellowstone Tour (Day 6 of 7) : Is this Gringotts?? (Great Salt Lake, Utah Capitol, Vegas)