Yellowstone National Park was one of our final National Parks. Following our time there, we traveled to Garryowen, Montana. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of Garryowen before. It isn’t exactly the largest town, but we had some great experiences there.
The first was getting to see the Little Bighorn National Monument. Little Bighorn Nat’l Mon. is where Lt. Colonel George Custer fought his last battle. We learned a lot about this battle, and were able to see both sides of the conflict. If you’ve read about, or seen a movie about Custer’s last stand, then you’ve probably realized that there are really two sides to the story: Custer’s side, and the Native American’s side. I don’t have room to fill you in, but if you click on this link, you’ll have more than enough info on the subject. http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/recon/jb_recon_custer_1.html
Our second cool experience in Garryowen was that we were able to attend the First Crow Indian Baptist Church. It was, as is the entire town of Garryowen, in the Crow Indian Reservation. We were very blessed to be able to worship with these folks, and enjoyed our time with them.
After a few days in Garryowen, we moved on to Rapid City, South Dakota. Rapid City was a great stop, and we were able to see Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Badlands National Park, and Wind Cave Nat’l Park. Mount Rushmore was pretty cool, and I think the reason why is because it’s like the Statue of Liberty, in that it’s what you think of when you think of the United States as a whole. However, we didn’t spend much time here, since, as you can probably figure out, there weren’t that many things to do there (e.g. Look at the monument and hike the short monument trail). Crazy Horse wasn’t much different it terms of the amount of things to do. However, for this one, I was sorely disappointed at the progress of the monument. For those of you who don’t know, Crazy Horse Monument is dedicated to (who else?) the Native American Crazy Horse, who, incidentally, fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn (a.k.a. Custer’s Last Stand). It’s currently under construction, which wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that they’ve been working on it for 71 years. And his head and some of his right arm are the only things completed. This was a huge bummer, since I was hoping to see more of it. When it's finished, his face will be 1.45 times as tall as Mount Rushmore, and the entire sculpture will be 263 feet long, making it the second tallest statue in the world. However, Crazy Horse Memorial will hold a place in my memory for another reason. We were able to attend a presentation of a Native American lady who showed us a Native American hoop dance. A hoop dance is basically a person dancing with up to 28 hoops (think about really strong hula hoops). It’s a little hard to explain, so I’d recommend Google searching “hoop dancing videos”. The person hoop dancing is telling a story. The woman that hoop danced for us was telling the story of her life with 28 hoops. At one time (at the very end), she actually had all 28 hoops being used!
Badlands National Park was absolutely incredible. It's home to some really amazing buttes, pinnacles and spires. What's more is that you're allowed to climb all over them! It was really amazing, and we took a cool hike. This hike, Notch Trail, led you through a canyon, then up a steep log ladder to more of the trail. We enjoyed the views at the end. Badlands was certainly a spectacular National Park, and we were very pleased with all of it.
Also, on our way to Badlands, we stopped at Wall Drug. Wall Drug used to be a famous drug store, and now they've turned it into a mall type area. It was really neat, and I enjoyed eating there and checking out the area around. Wall Drug is famous for their "free ice water", which drew customers to them when they first started out in 1908.
Wind Cave National Park is one of my favorite National Parks behind Yellowstone, Capitol Reef and maybe Joshua Tree. It’s the home of the 7th longest cave in the world, and is the 6th oldest National Park. We took one of the tours into the cave, and were astounded at it all. It turns out, a 16 year old boy mapped out 8-10 miles of this cave in the late 1800s. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about him: From the age of 16 until his death at the age of 20, McDonald discovered and mapped the first 8 to 10 miles (13 to 16 km) of Wind Cave using candlelight. His exploration and mapping was so extensive and thorough for the time that it was not until 1963, 70 years after his death, that major new passageways were discovered in Wind Cave. During the guided tour, we came to point where our guide turned off all the electrical lights, and we were able to see what Alvin McDonald saw when he was exploring the cave. The guide had a candle lamp with her that was exactly like what Alvin would've had, and even with this light, it was very dark in there! We really enjoyed seeing Wind Cave.
One other thing that I've forgotten to mention in the last 3 or so posts is that we met some folks from Georgia back in our Heber City campground. Mr. and Mrs. Mathis used to live about 2 miles down the road from our house in Georgia, but we didn't met until we were parked next to each other in Heber City! They are also full time, and we were very blessed to be able to spend time with them in Heber City, Yellowstone and Rapid City! They are very nice people, and we enjoyed exchanging stories from on the road. :)
Following our time in Rapid City, we traveled to Mitchell, South Dakota. Mitchell is the home of the World’s Only Corn Palace (though technically there were corn palaces before this one). It is an event venue, and when there’s not an event going on, it’s free to visit. If you’re wondering what a corn palace is, think about a movie theater, then imagine corn murals on the outside sides of the theater. This is what the Corn Palace is. We enjoyed touring this, and were amazed at what people do with the corn.
We didn’t do much in Mitchell, and soon moved on to Iowa. But, I’ll cover that in the next post. By the way, this is the last blog post that I’ll write while on the trip. We have 2 days left until we get back! Tomorrow (July 30th) we get back!!!
Will is 14, and enjoys running track, writing,