Back in the USA
After arriving back in the lower 48 we settled into a 2 night stay in Shelby Montana. We began our return by spending several hours getting rid of the bug splatter, road mud, road tar and other grime on both vehicles before they finally looked normal again. Our first stop after leaving Shelby took us to Hardin, Montana where we headed over to Little Bighorn National Battlefield to watch a film, walk through the battlefield museum, listen to a park ranger describe the battle in detail and finally take a tour through the battlefield by bus with a Crow Indian acting as our tour guide. The Crow Indians were allies with the US at the time and many of their guides were killed along with Custer and his troops. The day was full of new information as many facts were brought to our attention that we had no idea about. The next day we returned to the battlefield for some time on our own. We drove the full length of the 5 mile road that goes through the battlefield, walked many of the trails and took lots of pictures. It really was a great take and we both enjoyed learning so much more about the history of the battle and of this country at the time. Our next stop took us to Rapid City, South Dakota where we started things off with a visit to Mt. Rushmore. My first impression was how small the monument looked while Claudia didn't think it was small at all. My impression changed as we took a hike along the "Presidential Trail", a half mile path and boardwalk that passes beside and below the monument. This trail provided great views of the monument, stops along the way with storyboards describing the construction of the monument and a building containing artifacts related to the construction. Following our visit to Mt. Rushmore we headed off to the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is a monument that recognizes Native Americans of all tribes and will be beautiful when completed. Unfortunately, Claudia and I will never live to see the completed project but our grandchildren probably will. It's enormous in size with Crazy Horse's head larger than all 4 Mt. Rushmore heads combined. We took a bus ride out to the construction site for a close up view and received a lot of great information from our driver who explained the entire project. Next we took a 2 hour drive through Custer State Park and some gorgeous areas of the Black Hills. Traffic was thick at times along some very narrow roads and through single lane tunnels but the trip was worth it because of all the great views. Next it was a trip into Deadwood where we took a bus tour of the oldest city in South Dakota. There was plenty of history including a stop at Boot Hill to see the grave of Wild Bill Hickok, who was shot dead playing cards in town. After a lunch in one of the historic buildings we were treated to a parade that came through town to celebrate the "Days of 76". The parade was a typical small western town parade complete with lots of horses, wagons, and people dressed in western garb along with a couple of local bands. After a brief stop back at the campground, we headed out one last time to Mt. Rushmore for a nighttime show. Following a film about the 4 president's on display, the lights came alive and we were able to see the monument lit up. It was a beautiful sight on a beautiful evening and well worth the trip. Next it was a stop in Interior, South Dakota. We spent our first day there, a gorgeous, sunny day exploring Badlands National Park. We drove through the park, stopped at just about every turnout for breathtaking views and enjoyed watching buffalo roaming free, as well as goats, prairie dogs & all sorts of birds. The following day we returned to one of our favorite areas of the park and took a couple of hikes into the badlands themselves. One of those hikes was only a half mile round trip but the first half was straight up and the second half straight down. We both agreed that the hike was well worth it and that we would be returning to both Montana and South Dakota on a future trip. Ed and Claudia
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Ed and Claudia always dreamed of retiring and travelling the country in their motorhome. They retired in 2013 and this is the continuing story of their adventures on the road.