Randye and Candace: Goin' West

Day 3

We got a fairly early start Thursday morning because we wanted to check into the hotel in Rapid City early enough to get dinner and get as close as we could to Mt. Rushmore for the big fireworks show scheduled for that evening.

Leaving Mitchell, we continued west on I-90.

SD Map Day Three

We made only two stops along the way. First, we visited the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center on the campus of St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain-Oacoma. It was a beautiful facility filled with Lakota history and artifacts. Out of respect of their request that pictures not be taken inside the museum, the only photos I have are of the outside. I've added a link to the center that has more images and information about the Lakota people.

Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center 1
Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center 2

On the other side of Murdo, we crossed into Mountain Time Zone and gained an hour of travel time. Later that afternoon, we finally reached Wall Drug Store. As we approached, there were more and more billboards advertising the tourist trap. Candace complained about the ugly signs across the beautiful landscape (including all the flat terrain where you can see for miles in either direction). The drug store was a block-long series of connected buildings that seemed to dominate the little town of Wall. I don't know if it was busier because this was the day before the Fourth of July, but it was certainly very busy.

Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center 1
Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center 2

We reached Rapid City and began a rather surprising misadventure with the one hotel I'd actually set an early reservation. I won't go into details here, but let's say the experience was the one major negative in the entire trip.

That evening, we drove towards Mt. Rushmore. Considering that we had already been warned that over 30,000 people were expected to attend, we decided to get as close as we could and hope that we would get a good view of the fireworks display. We got as far as Keystone, the town just below the memorial. While we couldn't actually see the memorial during the 30-minute show, we found a position on the side of the road where we set up folding chairs and shared my pair of binoculars to get a wonderful view. Unfortunately, I realized that we were too far to get good pictures. On the other hand, we were able to get off the mountain without getting caught up in the bulk of the heavy traffic leaving the show. Good thing because we had a very early day to look forward to.

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