Thursday, July 18, 2013

North by Northwest - June/ July Trip - Day 7

On Day 7, we slept in a good bit.  All the driving over the past 2 days caught up with us and we were lucky enough to have two hotel rooms - connected by one bathroom - at the Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, South Dakota.  All that space meant everyone could have their own bed for the first time since leaving home and we took advantage and slept in!  
Hotel Alex Johnson was nice, but ended up not being our favorite, so we decided to cancel our second night, spend some time in Mount Rushmore, and then head east toward home that afternoon.  We had 21 hours of driving ahead!  Yikes!

On our way to Mount Rushmore from Rapid City, we came across the highly rated Bear Country.
We decided to pay the entrance fee and drive on through:
It was a nice diversion.  It had rained earlier in the morning and we wanted to be sure the rain was gone for good before we got to Mount Rushmore.  We saw some neat creatures - some were up close and personal:

But more than anything, we wanted to see Mount Rushmore, so we headed that way!
Parking Lot view

Walking up:

It still felt surreal!

JR really wanted something from the gift shop.  When we asked him to wait he wasn't happy, as evidenced by this 'classic' photo we took right after in front of the Alabama column.  Ha!

Hello Gentlemen!

Since it was July 4, and crowds were at their peak, they had actors portraying the 4 Presidents.  We met Teddy Rosevelt

We checked out the indoor exhibits and watched the movie:

And then we headed on the Presidential Trail:

Everyone was walking in here, so I went too - to see what the fuss was all about:

It ended up just being this view of George from below:

Soooooooo pretty in the Black Hills!

The compressor that was used to fuel the tools that built Mount Rushmore:

Sculptors studio:

The Hall of Records is behind Mount Rushmore and remains unfinished:

We had lunch at the cafeteria in Mount Rushmore National Park and it was delicious!  Lots of options - healthy options too.

The decor was wonderful:

And you can't beat the view!:

Good bye Rushmore!

All in all, we were at Mount Rushmore for less than 4 hours and we saw and did everything there was to see and do.

With a few extra hours in the day left, we decided to re visit the Badlands:

There really is nothing like it.

It just takes your breath away.

We sadly said good bye to the Badlands and headed east.  We arrived in Mitchell, South Dakota just in time for their local fireworks!  And then headed straight for bed.  We were headed to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in the morning!