Mount Rushmore and a Milestone
The road trip was going beautifully and on September 11, 2012 at about 10:45 PM Scott and I crossed the boundary from North Dakota into South Dakota. I had fulfilled my quest to visit all 50 US States. We did almost no sightseeing in either of the Dakotas. We know nothing about North Dakota and the only thing we really knew about South Dakota was that it is home to Mount Rushmore and the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Because of the late hour we decided to press on toward the tiny town of Keystone just outside the entrance to Mount Rushmore and flop for the night. We got in and set the alarm for 6AM; about five hours later.
We arrived at Mt. Rushmore National Monument around 7AM; an hour before the information center opened. The beauty of that is there are no entrance fees, no tour busses and no crowds. In fact, we practically had the place to ourselves. It felt weird. Here we were at this most iconic of American landmarks and no one was here.
It was impressive no doubt. Honestly I wasn’t in South Dakota long enough to make an informed opinion about the state as a whole but, based on what little I saw, I don’t really see it as a “destination”. Perhaps it is a place better passed through; like we did. We saw the monument, took some pictures, then started driving again; goals met. Scott had the option of flying home from Grand Rapids or making the long slog of a drive to Houston with me. Scott is a great friend and he opted to make the drive.
I am not going to go into detail about the drive to Houston because we just drove straight through. Enroute we only stopped for gas and “convenience” stops. It took 23 hours or so. We had deep discussions and occasionally laughed so hard it brought tears. And we did it, arriving in Houston in the early AM. It had been a great road trip to some amazing places and I will always treasure the memories. They say it is not about the destination but the journey and we had a great journey.
I had planned to spend only a few weeks in Houston with my sister and parents, then leave the country for someplace completely new and continue the journey. I am so grateful that I had the time. I had no clue that what I would experience there would be one of the most difficult and sobering experiences of my life.