Monday, May 18, 2015

Mount Rushmore in the Fog

South Dakota is packed with so many places to see.  When my sister and I left the airport at Rapid City our plans were to drive through the Black Hills, check out Mount Rushmore, and then head to Faith. (Linda had a research project in SD.  The first stop was Faith.  I was tagging along to keep her company and have some sister time.)  Mother Nature was not cooperating.  It was spitting rain and becoming foggy.

We were not going to let the fog and rain dampen our excitement for the day.  It was a short drive to Mount Rushmore. The fog made it difficult to see the road signs...but we did not get lost!  I figured that visiting Mount Rushmore in April we would not have to fight the crowds of tourists like I have had happen other times.  We paid our $11.00 for parking (The National Park Pass is not accepted for parking...not even a discount!) and carefully drove the narrow road to the parking area.  The fog was getting denser and denser.  I don't know why...but even when we almost missed the entrance to the parking garage because of the fog...we did not think that maybe...just maybe...George, Thomas, Abe and Teddy might not be visible.

The park ranger at the visitor center told us that visibility was not going to get better for the rest of the day.  I felt bad for Linda as she had never seen Mount Rushmore, but I felt worse for the family who came in after us.  The father limped up to the park son about the age of five was hanging on his leg and the other son about eight was using that animated voice asking where the carved presidents' heads were.  Younger son released his father's leg and began running in circles pretending to be a plane.  The mother...looking somewhat haggard was standing by the door staring into the foggy scene while their teenage daughter slumped against the wall heaving a sigh looking totally bored.

"I don't suppose there is any luck that the fog will lift, is there?"  The father was trying to be optimistic.  "We just drove six hours for Jeremy here to see the carvings in the mountains."  Little Jeremy was checking out a book shouting out facts about Mount Rushmore.  My heart almost broke knowing that he would not be seeing anything but photos unless they were able to come the next day. I also knew that we would not be able to see the progress that has been made in the Crazy Horse carving. When we left, the family was disappearing in the fog heading for platform to see the carvings. I took a quick picture of a model of Mount Rushmore, Linda bought some postcards...and we left.  Next stop: Deadwood.

This is our only picture of Mount Rushmore...the model in the visitor center.

Our drive to Deadwood was through the Black Hills...or from what we saw...foggy Black Hills.  It was still beautiful and as we came through them, the fog began to lift a bit.  We got to Deadwood in time for lunch.  Every time I have been to Deadwood has been in the summer and it is full of tourists...lots of tourists.  When we arrived, it could have been a ghost town. Here is a picture of the main street.  During the summer there would be no way I could have taken a picture standing in the middle of the street.  Of course, the rain probably kept other travelers inside, so it was the perfect time to take such a shot.

Deadwood, South Dakota
Deadwood had been a lively mining town.  This is where Wild Bill Hickok was murdered.  It is quite a tale that I have no time to tell.  Check it out at Wild Bill Hickok Biography.  He was murdered while playing a game of poker.  He always liked sitting with his back against a wall, but for some reason was sitting with his back to the door of the saloon.  A man, Jack McCall, walked in and shot Wild Bill in the back of the head.  The poker hand that Wild Bill was holding became known as the "Dead Man's Hand"...a pair of black eights and a pair of black aces.

Deadwood had more to offer than stories about Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.  Linda and I also lost five dollars each at the small casino in the Bullock Hotel. (I hear there is a ghost that lives there.)  We also stopped at the Chubby Chipmunk Chocolate store.

If you visit Deadwood, stop and buy some yummy chocolate there.  This piece had a thin layer of caramel inside wafer thin chocolate.  Linda has already figured out how to make it and so I hope I will see some of these at Christmas next year. :-)


After lunch at Mustang Sally's, we were back on the road, heading for Faith.  We left the Black Hills and found the terrain more prairie like.  We did pass a few interesting land formations.  This one was called Bear Butte.  Legend says that the Sioux Chief Crazy Horse was born here. 
Bear Butte

I will stop here.  The next post will be about Faith. SD.  I had never been there, but found it an interesting small town.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Running to Fly

My sister had a research project in South Dakota the last week in April.  Since my schedule was open...I was able to join her.  We had fun sister time and visited places I had never seen in the other times I had been in South Dakota. 

Our first adventure was at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.  Our connection to Rapid City was through Minneapolis. (Ray and I had had a connection there last year when we flew to Vancouver and I had no bad memories of it.)  Our first problem was at O'Hare.  They had to close one runway, so our plane had to share with landing planes.  Our pilot told us that we were taking turns.  That caused us to be about fifteen minutes late.  When we landed at Minneapolis I checked my iPhone to see where our connecting gate was.  We were coming in at F7 and we needed to be at B16.  We had 40 minutes....that should be okay....well, then I checked the airport map and realized that F7 is at one end of the airport...and B16 is at the other end.  This was going to be tight...I was sitting in the front of the plane but Linda was in the back.  It would take precious time for her to get out of the plane.
I marked our gates with a big purple X to show the distance between the gates.

 Once I was off the plane I asked an employee if we would be able to make our connections. He looked at my ticket, shook his head, pointed at one of those golf type carts and said that was the only way we would make it. I ran to the driver and asked him to wait for Linda. Minutes later Linda emerged through the crowd, caught my eye and bee-lined it to the cart.  Two other women were close behind, frantic looks on their faces, but my sister won the race.  Fortunately there was enough room on the cart for all of us.

Our driver assured us that he would get us there as he zigzagged around people, honking to warn others to get out of his way.  "The employees are the worst to move!" he shouted back at us as he sped past everyone.  "Hold on, we have some turns up ahead!"  Childhood  memories of riding the Wild Mouse at the Riverside Amusement Park in Indianapolis came to me as I gripped the hand rail.

Wild Mouse Ride picture taken by Abie Danter (found on line)

 I swear I heard him say the gate was about a mile away.  I have tried to research to see the distance between gates at this airport, but have not found any facts yet.  I did read one review that said, "If you are training for the marathon, this is the place to make connecting flights."  Many other reviews said that they had missed their flights.  Some suggested that a three hour layover would be the only way they would ever go through that airport.  I can't believe there is not a monorail like Detroit Metro has.  But we zigzagged so much, it may not be possible...or maybe there is something like that, but we missed it.

Our driver got us to the end of his line.  Relief!  At least, that is what I thought.  Instead, he screeched to a halt, pointed down a hallway and said, " Walk down to the first set of escalators (or was it the second set?)...go down the escalator, follow the B1-B16 signs.  They will take you down another hall, you can use the moving sidewalk.  Then, take the escalator up.  There will be another hallway to your gate.  B-16 is the last one.

I am glad that Linda and I are fast walkers....I don't know how anyone who can't walk fast would have made it.  We arrived at the gate right when the doors of the plane were ready to close.  Of course,  where were our seats?  We were in the very back of the plane.  I slumped into my seat wishing I had taken some pictures of the airport...but they would have only been a blur.

Here is a picture I found on line.  There were numerous bars/snack bars like this close to the gates, where one might have a leisurely drink before boarding.   I am sure many people have had positive experiences at this airport.  It seemed clean, modern and had lots of shopping options.  They just need some way to transport people from one end of the airport to the other.