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The Black Hills

This last week, Riley & I took a vacation up to South Dakota. He’s been wanting me to see that area and Mt.Rushmore since the first summer we met. I’m so glad he did! What an incredible place!

We started out Sunday morning heading to Keystone,SD. We went up through Colorado and Nebraska, then into South Dakota. It was a b-e-a-utiful drive!

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Somewhere in Colorado.
We got to Keystone around 9:00 mountain time and noticed you could see Mt.Rushmore lit up on top of the hill. So we decided to head up there to see it closer. We got up there and the park was still open!! We were so excited, it was definitely something to see all lit up at night, though very hard to get a good picture of it. We hung out there for a bit, then headed back into Keystone to get a room. Neither of us ever imagined it would be hard to get a room, Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, but we were sadly mistaken. Every single hotel,motel, or inn was BOOKED! So we started calling a couple of the small surrounding towns-BOOKED! So we thought surely Rapid City would have a room somewhere…BOOKED! Finally we found a room in Summerset on the other side of Rapid City. It was nice to get into bed after a 10 hour drive.

The next morning we headed back to Mt.Rushmore to see it in the daylight and see some of the videos and exhibits they have on the visiting grounds. Right outside of Keystone we saw a place called Bear Country U.S.A.  It’s a beautiful animal reserve with Big-Horned Sheep, Timber Wolves, Arctic Wolves, Buffalo, Antelope (which we see these daily in our part of the world) and tons of Black Bears. It was a really neat place to drive through, and the animals, though not necessarily tame, but they could walk right up to your door.

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This was a sweet little, sleeping fox.
After about an hour of going through the park it was time to move onto Mt.Rushmore. It was even more incredible during the day! Learning about how they were able to dream it, and make it a reality was pretty inspiring. The determination they had to make a mark on this world, and do something great. It took hard work, and perseverance, and perfection demanded on the workers from the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum. It’s undeniably something great to see, and worth taking the time to go see it and learn about it.

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I know we’ve all seen pictures of Mt.Rushmore, and this is just another picture, but I’m glad to have it to remember I was truly there and saw this great work of determination and heart.

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It’s a lot harder than you think to get a picture with it! 
There was a really neat path that walks out where you can get closer to the mountain and you get almost right underneath the presidents, if you ever find yourself in South Dakota, be sure and go see Mt.Rushmore and walk the path.

After we left,we decided to go check out the progress on Crazy Horse. Though it’s impressive, we went late in the day, and we were a little disappointed in how you couldn’t get very close to get a good look at it. We went and watched a short little video and looked at some interesting Native American artifacts. It’s a very interesting story and they still lack 35 years of work to get it finished. We’re glad we went, just wished we would’ve gone sooner to catch a bus tour up to the actual monument.

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Crazy Horse Monument
Then it was on to Deadwood,our final destination spot. It was beautiful in Deadwood! We got there after dark, and the streets had literally rolled up. It was nice, cool, crisp air that you couldn’t help but drink in.

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Deadwood after dark.
Though it lacked much movement, there were plenty of little spots open to do a little gambling. 😉 So we ordered us a pizza at the bar, and took to the penny slots for about an hour before going back to our hotel. Almost every single place in Deadwood has some sort of gambling, keeping to it’s roots I suppose since it started as a gambling town. But the history in Deadwood is just as fun to learn about.

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This was the building that Wild Bill Hickok was shot, and killed back in 1876, during Deadwood’s first year of establishment. He was a legendary Old West hero, and known for his outstanding marksman with a pistol. He was buried in Deadwood’s cemetery, along with Calamity Jane, whom was also a famous Old West frontierswoman. The cemetary  was a place we wanted to be sure and visit, since last summer we visited Doc Holiday’s burial site.

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As odd as it may sound, the Mount Moriah cemetery is a beautiful one. It sets up above Deadwood, and is in a quiet, peaceful spot. As you read above, Calamity’s dying wish was to be buried next to Wild Bill, and so they granted her that wish. Though I never could get a very good picture of her plot, she is right to the south of his spot. If you look at the picture below, the rock wall you see in the right corner of the picture is Calamity Jane’s spot.

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There’s a beautiful “lookout” spot at the edge of the cemetery to see an overview of Deadwood. It was a gorgeous spot!

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We had a lot of fun in Deadwood. Playing the penny slots, and a little bit of Blackjack, eating some good food, learning of some Old West and Native American history and genuinely just enjoying God’s beautiful work that we call South Dakota. We look forward to going back!

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What are some of your favorite trips or places to go in the United States?

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