Friday, July 22, 2016

July 22, 2016, SD Air & Space Museum, Into the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial

July 22, 2016, back on the road today, a smidge cooler, in the 90s, so a little better. We left Wall, SD and headed west.

First stop is the South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base and Box Elder. The museum is free and is excellent if you like Air Forces fighters and bombers. The museum is in a rebuilding mode and the exhibits look pretty good. Out side are all kinds of fighters and bombers from F-86 Saber up to a B52 bomber and a B-1B bomber. The B-1 is huge. They are all very close to each other and easy to walk up to. They also have a building with exhibits on the history of some of these planes and how they are used. The also have a missile launch capsule for the Minute Man missiles that were housed here at Ellsworth in the Cold War. If you are an aviation buff this is a must stop. Also excellent coffer at Gizzi's right next door

Aircraft all spread out for viewing

Layout of the planes
Minute Man Missile
Bruce standing in front of a A-26 Invader
Next is Mount Rushmore in the lower corner of South Dakota below Rapid City and in the Black Hills. Mount Rushmore is iconic and pretty amazing. Lots and lots of people. Started in 1923 and finished in 1941 though not really completed the monument is pretty impressive. It is worth going to just to see the 60 foot heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. What was interesting is that Jefferson was suppose to be where Washington is now but because of cracks they had to move him. The workshops and museum are also pretty interesting. It is very interesting how they took a small 1/12 size model and transferred it up on the mountain.

Mount Rushmore from the viewing area
The original model for the monument, they used this to make measurements
Bruce and Louise at the Avenue of Flags leading up to Rushmore
A short way down the road on Route 385 between Hill City and Custer South Dakota is the Crazy Horse Memorial sculpture. Started in 1948 by the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and then now continued by his family the monument is about half way along. The memorial also has a huge learning and exhibit center. If you are interested in American Indian artifacts and cultural this is a place to come. It is amazing that this all started with one guy and a jack hammer and some dynamite. They also have an excellent and very large restaurant for lunch. Both Louise and myself were hot, tired and hungry and we both had excellent lunches. 

The model in the front and the mountain behind, it is actually way bigger than Mt. Rushmore

After our touring we headed off to Wyoming and a hotel for the night. We ended up in Gillette, WY. Known as the energy capital of the Nation. They have a huge open pit coal mine on the outskirts of the town. We had dinner at Humphrey's, it was excellent.