Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore National Monument was our ultimate goal for this segment of the trip.
Driving on I90, we stopped at a unique and welcoming rest stop between exits 263 and 265. Complete with an interpretive center, featuring displays and information about the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1803 - 1806, which took the explorers through what is now South Dakota. We have always been interested and intrigued by their story and history since Steve read the book “Undaunted Courage“ by Stephen Ambrose. The rest stop is situated on a bluff, overlooking the Missouri River. Lewis & Clark and their dog Seaman (a Newfoundland) camped here on their long journey. According to the journal entries, the dog was overheated and Lewis brought Seaman down to the river to cool off. Miraculously, the dog accompanied them on their entire journey, and was the only animal to complete the trip. You can read more about Seaman’s incredible story here. And of course, check out the book to read of the entire expedition.
Above is a 50 foot steel statue of a Native American woman located at the interpretive center, sculpted by Dale Lamphere. It was built to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people. Her name is Dignity of Earth and Sky.
We intended to drive into and through the Badlands National Park. Unfortunately, there were severe thunderstorms which forced us to change our plans. But not before we got a glimpse into the rugged, natural beauty of the area.
To our surprise, just outside the entrance to the park, there was an original Prairie homestead belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Ed Brown, consisting of 160 acres. It was another historic reminder of the prairies past. Period clothes were available to borrow for photo ops. Since we had our Laura Ingalls dress and bonnet already, Steve borrowed some overalls and hat and together we had fun pretending to be homesteaders. Here are some shots from that day.
Prairie dogs covered the property with their burrows and were barking at us to stay away from their pups which were everywhere. This sweet little guy appeared to have a problem with his paw.
Mt. Rushmore National monument, located near Rapid City, South Dakota was socked in with rain and storms, so we had to skip seeing it. Our night in Rapid City wasn’t as pleasant a stay and we decided to get an early start and head out on the road again with our sights set on Montana.
The drive was beautiful, with expansive skies filled with storms and cloud formations unlike anything we see on Long Island.
Our original intention was to sleep in our car but thus far, that hasn’t happened. We are new to Airbnb and are thankful we found the service. It’s easy to book a stay and the hosts have been wonderful. Airbnbs are generally less expensive than hotels. “Harvey” the RV has been our home away from home for the last two nights. Mitch, our host, has been kind, excellent and accommodating. We spent July 4th (one of Maggie’s favorite holidays and usually spent at the Jersey Shore) in downtown Bozeman Montana with him. Live country music played and Mitch, Steve and I danced and had a fun time. Exhausted from our travels, we settled down early, completely missing even a single firework.
Bozeman is beautiful! Big sky vistas, wilderness and nature abound, with endless nature trails to take it all in. Steve and I went for a run in the morning on some of these trails, which literally start from the property we are staying on, followed by a 15 mile mountain bike ride courtesy of Mitch, our host and guide of Bozeman. It was spectacular.
We ended last night with a beautiful sunset on top of “Pete’s Hill” accessible via the trail from the RV. The picture above doesn’t do the sunset justice. It’s been a long time since I picked up my camera. I just haven’t had the heart to use it since Maggie got sick and died. I brought it on this trip. I had to. What’s a trip like this without photographic memories? I aim to fine tune my sunset and sunrise photography skills after last night’s failed attempt to capture what was one of the most beautiful sunsets we have seen. Maggie would have loved being here.
Today, we will be off to see the Peak to Sky music festival in Big Sky, Montana. Looking forward to a great lineup of musicians and to see Josh Klinghoffer and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Josh and the band are generous, compassionate people who have supported Maggie, our family and our foundation.