Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sturgis, Day Two...Four Presidents, Two Monuments, One Saloon

Day two found us up and out early, trying to beat the crowds and the heat. Man, it is hot out there. Sizzling!

Because we were only in Sturgis for 3 nights, we had to do the quick version of all there is to see, so we crammed a lot in to the day.

First stop was Mt. Rushmore. Husband's friend told him to save the $11 admission fee because the views are just as good driving around the park.  Driving up to the park, you do get quite a view, but seriously, when will we be back to Mt. Rushmore...if ever. Cough up the dough, ya cheap-o.

  Got to gate and was pleasantly surprised to see that admission for all bikes was discounted to $5.00. Went inside, and it was very crowded and hot.

Plenty of tours and trails to hike but we had our 'Chevy Chase' moment, said hello to George, Thomas, Theodore and Abraham and moved on.

Out in the parking lot, found this Patriotic bike under America's 'Shrine of Democracy'...seriously, how awesome is this? We almost walked right past it.

From Mount Rushmore we drove over to Custer State Park, roads were awesome...incredible views, bridges, tunnels...


Plenty of turns and windy roads...

Husband's friend was right though (shhh...don't tell him I said so), there really are amazing views from so many different areas.  Probably could skip the admission to park. So much better on the road, away from the crowds.

While we were at this viewing area below, we heard a lot of sirens, saw several response vehicles and an ambulance speed by.

Soon, the life flight helicopter showed up and we all thought the worst. Said a silent prayer and hoped for the best...

Just a mile down the road, we ran into the accident and the road was closed. While we were waiting, we heard several stories...a van hit a bike, a jeep hit a bike, a jeep hit another car...not sure what happened, but a woman who was on the scene said everyone was thankfully okay. I'm sure by the end of the line they were hearing something along the lines of 'a bear ate a biker'.

Road opened and we passed the vehicles...looked like cars. No jeep, no van, no bikes.

Left the Monument and drove off to Custer State Park

Another nice ride...smooth, windy roads. Think we paid $10 admission for the bike, cars were $15. Made our  way to Wildlife Loop Road hoping to see some buffalo

Eyes were peeled but no luck...saw several antelope and deer and were starting to get discouraged until we came over the hill and saw this incredible scene.

Had to drive up this dirt road to get to them...gravel and dusty, but it was worth it.

An even better surprise was ahead...wish I had brought some carrots or something.

These guys were NOT afraid of the bikes, they were not moving...

From Wildlife Loop, we drove over to Needles Highway...still in Custer Park. 

Highway is a must-do, if you are in the area. Tons of rock formations, hairpin turns, and tunnels.

Great photo-ops and scenic overlooks

After the highway, we decided to head back and saw a sign for Crazy Horse. Had kind of decided I did not want to see it because I did as a kid and remember not being too impressed with the 'hole in the rock'.  It being only 8 miles from where we left the park, it was another moment of 'when will be here again, let's do it'. So we did...
Driving up to the monument, you can see the rock just as good as you can see it from within the park. At the gate, the sign indicated admission was $10, hell no, $20 bucks to look at an incomplete rock?
The attendant told us it was 50% off for bikes so we did it...and gotta say, even that was too much. I understand the historical significance behind it, and do not mean any disrespect, but was very surprised to see the formation has not changed all that much from the 1980s when I last there.  Still a hole in the rock. Although the Visitor Center was beautiful and had some interesting pieces, clean bathrooms and a small cafe. Passing on it next time...

Driving home, a storm came from out of nowhere. Dark clouds rolled in, and bolts of lightening were lighting up the skies. I was petrified and not at all reassured that I 'was grounded' because of the rubber tires. Thankfully, we came across the Silver Dollar Saloon and pulled in for a few quick ones...along with several other bikers caught in the storm. Beers were cheap, staff was fun...

Thus ends our day of nature...Day three...bring on the bars!