Being a compendium of thoughts as we drive and drive and....
First, the landmark. After our morning adventure (below), we turned east, heading towards home, beginning the last leg of The Journey, after driving 5,200 miles through 17 states over 5 1/2 weeks.
We began the day at Jewel Cave, the third cave of the trip. It is the second largest cave in the U.S. About 5% of the cave has been mapped (calculated by the volume of air that it sends out when the air pressure differential is right.) Until last week, it was the fourth largest (longest) cave in the world. Then caves in China and the Yucatan both found they connected to another cave, edging them past Jewel. There is a theory that Jewel may link to Wind, which would bump it up in the listing. We found this particularly interesting, since the formations in the two caves are very different. Alas, they do not do lantern tours in spring, so we went on a standard tour, which was still fun. The volunteer guide is friends with some of the volunteer spelunkers who explore the cave, so he had good stories.
We then drove the Iron Mountain Highway up to Mount Rushmore. The scenery is not as dramatic as Needles, but the very cool thing is how the tunnels frame the mountain. And the “pigtail” bridges which loop the road 360 degree under itself, that were devised to span big changes in elevation. We've cheated and posted an arial photo from the Internet.
Mount Rushmore itself was, of course, impressive, particularly after learning what it is taking to carve the Crazy Horse Memorial. (There was a letter at that museum from Gutzon Borglum, essentially telling Korczak Ziolkowski there was no place for him on the Rushmore project and to go back to New York.) An amazing fact - there were no serious injuries among the Rushmore workers. We were struck by the grandness, formality and seriousness of the granite Park buildings and walkways, which were a dramatic contrast with the tackiness of the nearby town of Keystone.
And to balance out the day, we proceeded to the Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, mainly for the view of the Black Hills. The dinosaurs are on the National Register of Historic Places, which doesn’t say much for the National Register. Need to check with Laura’s brother Steve – we may know the daughter of artist Emmet Sullivan.
We are spending the night in Wall, yes, home to Wall Drugs. We’ve added a spoon rest. Not the perfect SD souvenir, but it will do. We are staying in one of a line of free standing rustic cabins near the highway, a quite comfortable option, particularly given the alternatives.
We finished listening to Dead Lions, the second Slow Horses book by Mick Herron. Now we’re about halfway through Why Fish Don’t Exist, which is very different. No idea what will be next…