Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Part 2 - Black Hills, South Dakota

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

When we last left $teve & his mother, they were fighting off bed bugs & biker zombies at the Town House Motel in lovely Lusk, Wyoming.

Day 4 - Lusk to Custer

Lusk just sounded like a dirty, sexy, smelly kind of town...and the perfect city for a motel...like a mix of Lust & Musk into an entirely new kind of memorable experience...but I was with my mother instead of a beautiful young cowgirl...so nothing of that sort...just sleeping, waking, & getting out of town to see the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. The town of Lusk was pretty nice...and I didn't get any bed bug bites...and only had to fight off one biker zombie, but he was drunk, so no match for my machete. After a beautiful few hours drive, we arrived at our first stop in the area, the Mammoth Site. This is a location where an sinkhole was made about 50,000 years ago...and a number of Mammoths fell into this sinkhole because it was a mineral spring with slate sides...so they would slip in...and die of exhaustion or drowning. Of the 56 mammoths that they found, every last one of them was male. Why? Allegedly, they were the non-alpha males that were thrown out of the herd and had to fend for themselves...so they found an easy meal, then fell in. I think they were pushed in by the females in a prehistoric form of "breaking up" but that's just my theory. Here are some pictures...

One of my favorite proverbs...

Here's a chart about the sinkhole...

Did you know that there were American Lions?

How about Giant Short-Faced Bears?

Is it just me...or does this Sabre-Tooth Tiger

Look like Patrick Stewart?

Not a bad hut...and uses all-natural materials

Utah - We've got fresh Mammoth Dung

Afterwards, we drove through the city of Hot Springs and had a wonderful Mexican meal for lunch. I had Blanket Tacos, which were basically double-decker tacos from Taco Bells...but handmade & delicious.

Our next stop was to the city of Custer and the National Museum of Woodcarving. Don't give me that look. It sounded mildly interesting...and my mom really wanted to go...and who was I to tell her no? It was actually kind of cool (and cheap) so here are the pictures from that...

"Where Wood Comes Alive"

Most of these things moved...but pictures don't really show it

Shotgun Wedding

Not sure what this is...but it was titled "Wife"

This was my favorite one...and I'm not sure why

The highlight of the day...was definitely our next stop, the Crazy Horse Memorial. My mom had never heard of this...but I had seen it on the Travel Channel or something...and it was even better than that I thought. Basically, in 1948, Mount Rushmore had been erected...and the Native Americans wanted a monument for them in the Black Hills. So they talked to a famous sculptor named Korczak Ziolkowski and told him that they wanted to turn one of their sacred Black Hills into the largest man-made monument in the world...in the form of the legendary warrior chief Crazy Horse. Over the next 60 years, he & his family have slowly but surely widdled away at this mountain (some 80 million tons of rock so far, mostly in the last twenty years after Korczak passed away but his legacy lives on) and it's really starting to take form. It's amazing to me that this guy & his family have such a burning Passion for this monument. It's truly their life's work...and he & his wife in particular for the first thirty years or so, he was going up & down the ladder, blasting up the mountain by himself, while she was home watching their ten children...out in the middle of nowhere (though it's a beautiful area) and that's just amazing. So much Love & Passion for what they do...it makes me wonder if I'm going to have a legacy (besides my ideas helping Pandas to reproduce). The story is truly legendary...and I haven't even started talking about Crazy Horse...so if you're interested, check out this link...but basically, he was a warrior who never signed a treaty with the white man but didn't attack them until they broke their promises on his predecessors' treaties. Then he kicked some ass...and was stabbed in the back by an American soldier under a flag of peace.

A scale model and the memorial in progress in the back

Crazy Horse...and Crazy Woman

Crazy Horse, Crazy Woman, & $teve

Korzcak Kiolkowski - The Sculptor

Ambitious plans for the monument

Yes, that is an airport & a university

This guy lived to be 125 years old

What was his secret? Froggy style, four times a day

In Sioux tradition, a man would stake himself to the ground

and defend himself for days from attacking animals until the tribe

said "Okay, you're a man now!"

Billy Mills - Olympic Native American Champion

1964 Tokyo Games

"Fighting Stallions" not Wyld Stallyns

The exhibits in the museum are an incredible collection of Native American artifacts, artwork, historical pictures & documents, and basically makes me proud to be 1/8th Ottawa (finally realized that if my great-grandmother was Ottawa, it makes me 1/8th not 1/16th. I suck at fractions). There's also other great sculptures from Korczak, a 1/34th scale model of the final vision, restaurants, tour buses up to the base of the mountain, and a laser light show in the evening (pictures didn't turn out well...but it's almost as good as Laser Zeppelin...but on a grander scale). I highly encourage EVERYBODY to go check this out...and donate to the cause. They refuse to take government funding...because they don't want anything from them to make it a government entity. Sure, it'd help them build it quicker...but they believe the idea will grow without government assistance...and I believe them too. I hope that within my lifetime, they'll be able to finish it up. It'll truly be a majestic sight for centuries to come. In fact, if you're ever in the Black Hills, forget Mount Rushmore, go check out Crazy Horse. All four Presidents' heads...will fit inside Crazy Horse's head. It's that big...and that amazing...and it's even cheaper (because it's not paying for government) and the proceeds go directly to future construction. With donations, you can also take a piece of the beautiful sparkly stone home with you and own a piece of history. Let me know if there's any other way that I can convince you to go check this monument out. It's amazing. Check out the website.

I wondered what my name would be if I were raised in the culture of the Native American. My dad has taught me some traditions and has a lot of stuff around his house...but to my knowledge, I was never given a native name. So I asked my mom about my birth...and she told me that it was a stormy day with lots of wind & thunder which started about the time that she went into labor. Based on that evidence alone, I believe that my name would have been...$teve Comes with a Thunder!!! Tell me that isn't sexy. The best part about the name...is that it's true.

After that, we drove to the Bavarian Inn and got a room. It was pretty nice & reasonably priced. There was also a German restaurant where we had some Jager Schnitzel, Beef Rouladen, and Spatzel. It was delicious. Here are some pictures...

Then we went to the light show at Crazy Horse and it was awesome...and free with the purchase earlier. For twenty bucks, it's the best deal in the Black Hills. I can't stress that enough. It's worth the drive or flight out there. I'm glad that Minot got cancelled...because I would have missed out on it. See? Things happen for a reason. When we got back, I got a call from Bubbles...and she was feeling better now with the medication for her sinus infection (and I like to think that my sexy, soothing voice helped out a bit) and was feeling much better. Great day!!! Great trip so far!!! Slept very well.

Day 5 - Custer to Gillette

We had a wonderful continental breakfast at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, then did a driveby of Mount Rushmore...because they were charging $20 for parking & another $20 for entrance...so we just drove by slowly and used my 3x zoom on the camera. Then we drove to our first stop for the day, the Cosmos Mystery Area, which I had been to when I came here fifteen years ago...and my mom was there...but she swore that she had never been there before (Alzheimer's?). Anyway, we went...and it's a goofy place where through mystical magnetization or just poor craftsmanship, things are not as they seem...and the floors inside the building are really really steep. Anyway, you be the judge...and decide for yourselves. Here are some pictures...

The Cosmos Mystery Area

The next stop was to Lead (like the element) where there was the President's Sculpture Park...where sculptor David Adickes made twenty-foot busts of all 43 Presidents. So to check it out...and keep myself entertained, I sent a text to Bubbles & JL Clyde saying "Pick a President. Any President." I would get their response...and then send them a picture of me picking that President's nose...which was quite a stretch. Those things were huge. Here are the pictures to prove it...

Instead of Jeff Goldblum, here Lincoln watches you poop

I really found John Adams quite creepy over the urinals...

George Washington...and his wooden nose

Thomas Jefferson - He liked the Brown Sugar too

Andrew Jackson - Best Dressed

Abraham Lincoln - The Penny Guy

By the way, did you notice that Lincoln's getting head?

A field of Presidential Glory

Teddy "Bear" Roosevelt

I think this is Taft...but I just liked his moustache & tie

Tehehe, I'm picking Dubya's nose

Let it be known that I like to play with Bush

"My Fellow Americans, it has hit the fan!!!"

First President to give a speech wearing shades

"Hey hey hey, can y'all keep it down? I had friends in

town last night and...well, it got a little out of hand."

Next stop was the city of Deadwood, made legendary by the outlaw nature of its early days during the Gold Rush, the death place of Wild Bill Hickok & Calamity Jane, and the recent HBO series of the same name. We walked around the town, had some lunch at Mustang Sally's (burgers & spicy chicken popcorn balls), and then moved on...but there was plenty of opportunity for gambling...and a lot of bikers & Corvettes for separate gatherings in nearby towns.

Saloon #10 - Where "Wild Bill" Hickok was shot

Then we drove by Sturgis...but didn't stop because we had seen it before...and it's not much unless it's backed with Harley riders...so we drove on to our next stop, the Devils Tower in Northern Wyoming, about an hour away. Legend has it, that this mountain was formed when a little girl was turned into a giant bear and chased her brothers & sisters around, after destroying their village. The Great Spirit told the children to run around a rock in the middle of a field four times, then the rock lifted high into the air...and the bear tried to climb the sides...but could not get to the children. Eventually, the bear's claws ripped away and...well, I forget how the story ends...but I'm sure everybody was okay...except the other villagers. Looking at the rock, you can see how that's believable...but scientifically speaking, it's vertically striped because of erosion. Enjoy the pictures...

Is that a shark on the mountains?

"This is important...this means something."

Illustration of the Legend of Devils Tower

Prairie Dog Exhibit

For the night, we decided to pull up in the city of Gillette, Wyoming but the rooms were really expensive because of a biker's group in town...but we found a Motel 6 that wasn't ridiculous and stayed the night there...were as mentioned in my first entry on this trip, I spent a lot of time writing about the first few days...and actually the majority of this one too...because I think fast & I type fast. Go see the Crazy Horse Monument!!! You owe it to yourself. It's truly awe inspiring. It's like Korczak Ziolkowski said, "Never Forget Your Dreams!!!"

Speaking of which, here's Dream #2 for this trip. Well, in reality, it was a stormy, thunderous night (because $teve Comes with a Thunder) and I was laying by the window, so that may have had something to do with it. I was in the middle of a race...which involved me running through this seemingly small Victorian house...with very poor lighting save for a few little spotlights moving about...and I notice that there are rings involved...and a few treadmills...then it hits me...I'm running through a kind of mini-Eliminator, like from American Gladiators with about five other people. Others are fallen (or being thrown, shhh...) and long story short, I win the race. Then there's a choice for me to make...either go up against the male American Gladiators...or the female Gladiatoresses...and so you KNOW that I pick the ladies. So the floor drops to a ramp and I slide downstairs into a basement or something...and then the announcer is calling out some of the Gladiators (actually a mix of guys & gals) and the first one is a girl from my first year of college named Heather, who was really hot, fit, and we had a Physics Lab together that she always wanted to be in my group (cuz brains are sexy?). She starts doing her tough-girl routine and getting in my face then looks surprised, "$teve? Hey, nice to see ya" but then the other gladiators come in.

Next is "Raul" who has the tennis ball blaster mounted on his shoulder, gives out a yell, and starts firing at me, so I slap the balls away (cuz it's my dream) and snagging a few out of the air...and throwing them back at him. After a while, he throws down the blaster and returns fire by hand. Then the next one's called in named "Olga" and she's doing backflips & cartwheels and stuff...but then slips or something...and CRACK, lands on the ground oddly. I run over to make sure she's okay (as does everybody else). "Are you okay, Olga?" "Ow." "Okay, stay still, the stretcher's on its way." Medics show up and cart her off...and Heather's sad, so I give her a shoulder to cry on. "Oh my God, she's paralyzed." "Now, it's okay. They're looking at her...and she was talking. That's a good sign." "She wasn't moving though." "That's because we asked her not to. Another good sign. She was thinking clearly. It's gonna be okay." Then Raul comes over and says that the show's cancelled for a few hours. "Wanna get a coffee or something?" $teve wakes up because somebody started up their Harley by the window. Damn first floor rooms.

Anyway, that'll do it for tonight. Tomorrow, we go to other cities in Wyoming...which is actually surprisingly beautiful in the northern part. We've already driven over 1200 miles now...and have many more to go. Have a great day everybody...and I'll update you on the trip as soon as I can.

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Where should I go next?