Custer City, SD June 22, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014 We woke up this morning to light rain. Bob cooked “Sunday breakfast” and we hung out waiting for the skies to clear a little. Blue skies appeared between the gray clouds and the rain stopped around 11:30. We talked to a man from Valdez, Alaska who leaves his RV in Seattle, WA and when he wants to travel, he flies to Seattle to pick it up and on his way he goes. Another guy was from Hawaii and he does basically the same thing, except he leaves his in California. What an arrangement, but they make it work! Once we were on the road, we headed to Crazy Horse Memorial.

 
 
It started to rain lightly as we paid our $11 per person entrance fee. I know I’ve said this before, but things have really changed since I’ve been here, in the 1960’s, 1981, and 1990’s. This is how it looked back then.

 
 
 
 
 
 
This is how it looks today with my camera.

 
 
The head is completely done and a hole was blown out for the space under his arm. They have the outlines placed on the rock for the horse’s head which is next on the list to do. 

 
 
This will be a 3D monument which you will be able to view from all sides. Here is a future look at the finished product.

 
 
 
 
This is a diagram of what the finished product will look like in relation to the rest of the mountain.

 
 
If you took Mount Rushmore and placed it on the mountain, it would fit into the HEAD of Crazy Horse. When completed, this will be the largest native American monument in the world. Inside this beautiful Visitor’s Center, we watched an orientation movie to explain how it all began. This shows the finished product of Crazy Horse’s face up close.

 
 
The Visitor’s Center houses a huge museum of Indian artifacts.

 
 
 
 
Bob and I figured that if we returned in 10 years when we are in our 70’s, we might see the horse’s head completed. The sculptor and his wife have now both passed on. (She passed away on May 21, 2014). Seven out of 10 of their kids work on the monument. There is also an Education Center (Indian School), the Laughing Water Restaurant,

 
 
3 gift shops,

 
 
sculptor’s studio and personal museum,

 
 
Native American artist displays,

 
 
and an observation deck. Out on the deck is the statue replica of the stone monument of Crazy Horse. Normally, it sits out on the observation deck, but today because of the rain which was coming down much harder now, it was under cover.

 
 
The mountain became engulfed in low clouds with the rain, but I was still able to get this closeup shot of the head before it was totally gone.

 
 
You can ride the bus to the base of the monument for $4, but the rain today really discouraged that. For $125 you can ride to the face and walk on the ledge. They were not taking anyone up today. On June 26, they are doing a night blast. I’m sorry we won’t be here to see that, but we were lucky to see the 8th generation son of Sitting Bull and his son perform authentic Native American dances in the Visitor’s Center.

 
 
We spent about 2 hours at the Crazy Horse Memorial. It gave us a greater understanding of the Native American culture and appreciation for what the monument means to the Native Americans of this area. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Bob and I won’t be able to see the completed project in our lifetime, but maybe our grandchildren will come and see it someday for us. Here is an aerial view of what the monument and grounds will look like. The monument sits in the background of this picture.

 
 
We decided to drive the Wildlife Loop Road in search of the buffalo. What else was there to do on such a rainy day? We stopped at the Ranger Station at the entrance to the park and asked where we might find the buffalo herd today. Once we found out, we headed in that direction. Once the rain stopped around 2:30, I rolled down the window and could smell the goldenrod. The hills were covered in them. Everything looked so fresh and green!

 
 
As we drove the Wildlife Loop Road, we spotted 4 white-tailed deer, but were still on the hunt for buffalo. We spotted some on the hillside, but there was no road access. Continuing on, we saw some buffalo disappear over the ridge. Could we find an access road to see them? That would put us more in the interior of the park. Yes! We could! We doubled back to LH Road (which was packed gravel) and drove back into the back road area. Sure enough! There they were right where the Rangers said they’d be!

 
 
I counted about 60 buffalo and 9 new calves in the herd. What a find!

 
 
As we parked along the side of the road and turned off the motor, we sat for about 30 minutes just watching the herd. They moved closer and closer toward us, just eating the grass. (These pictures were taken without the zoom lens.)

 
 
They got so close to the truck, I could hear them chewing the grass. It was making me a little nervous, but we just sat as still as we could.

 
 
Eventually, they moved closer and surrounded the truck.

 
 
 
 
 
 
This shot was out of the front window. We just sat there and enjoyed the experience, observing the herd and the calves running and frolicing in the grass. We finally started the truck, turned it around, and slowly moved on down the road.

 
 
Finally, I got to see the herd of buffalo up close and personal! By 3:30, the sun came out and made the day all that much better. The storms had passed and blue skies appeared. We headed back to the campground and had cocktails before dinner. We enjoyed the rest of the day with sunshine. I did a load of wash and took Auggie on his evening walk as darkness fell. It was still pretty wet outside, so we’ll save the campfire for tomorrow. We converted a dreary, rainy day to a great day of fun!

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