After journeying together to Ireland last April, Kim and I realized we made good travel buddies. So when planning my summer family visit to South Dakota, I asked her if she'd like to tag along. Kim had never been to many of the states in the midwest, and she'd always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore, so was all for it. To sweeten the deal, I proposed a detour to Yellowstone National Park on the return trip.
|Soldier Monument, Little Bighorn Battlefield|
So one sunny day this past late May found us cruising down I-90 in Eastern Montana, destination Rapid City and the Black Hills of South Dakota. To break up the time spent inside the car, I stopped at a couple places of interest along the way. One of these places was the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Eastern Montana.
|Gravestones indicate where soldiers died|
In history class you probably heard about "Custer's last stand." Well that took place right here at Little Bighorn Battlefield. This National Monument memorializes the conflict between US soldiers trying to control the Indians and the Indian's last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. On June 25-26, 1876, 263 soldiers of the US Army's 7th Calvary died fighting thousands of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors. The commanding officer, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, famously perished in this battle.
|There were gravestones for the Native warriors also|
|Loved this sculpture honoring the Native American fighters|
I really liked the huge sculpture depicting three warriors on horseback charging off into battle. It is transparent so one can also take in the surrounding grassy hills and wide-open skies.
|National Cemetery honoring those who died in US wars|
|It right before Memorial Day and each grave had a flag|
It was interesting to walk among the rows of uniform, bright-white headstones. Each section of the cemetery was reserved for casualties of a certain war. There was an area for the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. There were even older graves from soldiers fighting Indian wars of the frontier. We visited on the Friday prior to Memorial Day, so each headstone had an American flag placed at its base.
|First glimpse of Devils Tower|
|Looking up the tower|
Anyone who lived through the 1970s has probably seen the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind in which Devils Tower is prominently featured. As a matter of fact, I couldn't stop myself from humming the movie soundtrack's famous five tones as we drove towards the monument.
|Close up of the rock formations|
|A thunderstorm foiled our hiking plans|
|This viewpoint, down a gravel road, is the best|
|Almost looks like a spaceship is coming|
|We found an alien in the gift shop!|
With more dark clouds on the horizon, our hiking plans were not gonna happen. On to Plan B! From previous visits, I remembered a place down a gravel road that gave visitors nice views of the tower. So I took Kim on a quick drive. We both marveled over the big sky panorama here, especially of the ominous storm clouds hovering above Devils Tower. Kinda looked like those aliens from the 70s were coming back!
On the road again! Destination, Rapid City. Next up - taking Kim through some of my favorite places in the Black Hills.