Crooked Creek Campgrounds, Mt. Rushmore & Crazy Horse

Hill City, South Dakota

From Greybull, WY, we found our way over to Hill City, South Dakota to stay for a couple of days at the Crooked Creek Campgrounds.  We were here to see the monuments of Crazy Horse, Mt Rushmore and a bit of an Easter egg, the town of Deadwood.  I’m still finding the people of this area to be very pleasant and accommodating ~ I’m still not getting why there are 4 million Minnesotans crawling over every inch of the new “Wild West”.  Our stay at Crooked Creek was punctuated by fluctuating weather, with mom taking a cabin of her own, to get away from Chantel and I and also to be able to turn up the heat full blast (temps were as low as 29*F).

Mount Rushmore, IS smaller than you see on TV, as was forewarned to me by another colleague.  Its great work and still a wonderful thing to see, just maybe in a time of year when the temps are more generous.  I’m still trying to work out why the parking is paid to “non-profit” group, while the monument is free to all.  Seriously, it’s off in the wild Black Hills, you can’t really hike to it, so I think that’s part of the “fleecing of America” as Mike Wallace would say.  The nighttime lighting ceremony is rather trinky and nothing as interesting as the lighting of the Eiffel Tower at night in Paris.  Come on, National Park Service, you can do better!  A completely random stranger offered to take our pictures, he pulled me aside and asked if I’d like a picture with my wife (my mom!)  I think that was a compliment to her and a small slight to me, do I look so much older now?

Chantel wasn’t feeling so hot the day we took the 1880 train from Hill City to Keystone.  I LOVE TRAINS and especially steam engines.  This place is so racked with history you have to watch your head or you’ll run smack into it!  There were deer all along the route and the staff is a bit fun and jaunty.  If you ever find yourself in this next of the woods, DO THIS!  We took the first train over to Keystone, but then took the last train home ~ to give some time to enjoy this quaint and somewhat gun-slinging town.

Mom had to go on to the Crazy Horse Memorial by herself, I was a bit bushed.  She spotted some mountain sheep and got some great pictures of the privately-funded monument.  If you don’t know much about this wonderful memorial, please take a moment to follow the above link to go on a little educational, Internet safari.

{Sept 18} As we left the Black Hills, we chose a route that took us through the town of Deadwood, where the famous gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane lived and died.  Chantel thinks Jane looked like a guy and she really did have a great bit of mannishness about her.  Sadly the town is ill-prepared for RV parking and so we had to pass on without so much as stepping foot in the famous Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon.  Check out why in poker a certain hand is called the “deadman’s hand!”

The rest of the trip to Billings (Bozeman got shifted as too long a drive) was uneventful except that one should never drive a RV on US 212 between Belle Fourche and Billings, it is too windy, boring and filled with big rigs.  The only bonus is that the road ends at the Battle of Little Bighorn monument, where Custer died as well as the majority of his regiment, ambushed by the Cheyenne.  My mother and I particularly applaud the Native People for their decisive victory against American expansionism.  Sadly mom, was so tired, she got lost and saw first-hand the deplorable conditions of the Crow People and the nearby reservation.  The monument makes Custer and his men out to be deceased heroes instead of bullies and thugs enforcing another broken treaty with the native peoples.  There is an Arlington-type cemetery there, which is watered, green and lush compared to the dry and dead surrounding (one would think it was a golf-course).  I have found that some people in these northern states tend to downplay the Indians and ignore them to the best of their ability.  So even today, we are still breaking treaties and forcing down the people of whose land our ancestors took without remorse.

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