A visit to Mount Rushmore was supposed to have been one of the highlights of our travel schedule. Don’t misunderstand me. It is a “must see”, and I am thrilled to have had the chance to see this remarkable monument, this unimaginable artistic feat; this tribute to our forefathers. Yet, due to a few monkey wrenches that were tossed in, the experience could have been better.
First of all, in order to get to the Black Hills, we had to drive through most of Wyoming, on narrow, state roads. I felt like I was driving down a landing strip on the moon. The speed limit is 80 on those two-lane roads. Why? Because you are highly unlikely to encounter another vehicle for miles and miles and miles. Wyoming is mostly flat, and it’s brown, and nobody lives there. Well, someone has to live there to take care of the livestock. There is plenty of livestock.
I was feeling pretty confident about making good time and getting a little cocky about my mad driving skills. I was flying down those long, straight, empty roads.
Enter, South Dakota. The hills turn into mountains, and you start seeing signs that say, STEEP, CURVY ROADS WITH NO SHOULDER FOR THE NEXT SIX MILES. Those high-elevation, serpentine roads are agonizing. I wanted to pull over and cry, but there was no shoulder to pull on to, so I had to wind my way around, VERY slowly, while simultaneously cursing under my breath and begging Jesus to take the wheel.
We didn’t die on the mountain so I figured it would be smooth sailing ahead, but as we pulled into our campground, the skies opened up and thunder boomed while the dog was desperately whining. I figured she needed to relieve herself so I leashed her up and braved the storm. That is when I discovered that Gypsy had explosive doggie-diarrhea. She not only had mutt-style Montezuma’s revenge, she was also foaming at the mouth, kind of like Old Yeller after he contracted rabies from that damned wolf.
So off to the Rapid City, Emergency Vet we went. I was convinced she was dying, but I have a tendency to overreact.
The Vet was suggesting that she ate something she should not have eaten (duh…), but also was concerned about giardia, diet changes and nervous anxiety combining to cause pancreatitis. Wow. I mean, yes, she had the trots, and yes, she was drooling to beat the band, but she was certainly not lethargic. She was full of energy and wagging her tail. The bloodwork came out fine, and yet, we were sent home with antibiotics, probiotics, special food, tranquilizers, and anti-nausea meds. Ching! Ching! $$$$
Naturally, by the morning she was 100% fine… no runs, no slobber. After all of the expense and anxiety, I now suspect that she chewed on a Kong that probably had the remnants of a 3-day old peanut butter treat, no pancreatitis or nervous condition; just a dog that had a tummy ache.
We took a perfectly healthy (and really expensive) puppy for a hike in the Black Hills. The Flume Trail goes along the route of a flume that was constructed in the late 1800s for the purpose of redirecting water to areas in which gold had been discovered and was being mined.
The ridges were rock-strewn and narrow and there was significant elevation gain. The views were amazing and the remnants of the flume were visible along the path.
I do not recommend this hike for the Acrophobic, but for anyone else, it provides semi-strenuous exercise, panoramic views, and an interesting history lesson.
Lewis & Clark got around…
After a painfully long journey across South Dakota, we are now camping along the Missouri River in South Sioux City, Nebraska. I walked along the water and noted several historical placards regarding the Lewis and Clark expedition. No matter where we have gone on this journey, they beat us to it. Amazingly, however, they did it without motorized vehicles, Google Maps, a GPS, or an Air Conditioned RV stuffed with refrigerated food. Now, when I complain about the number of miles traveled in a day, I think of my new pals, Lewis & Clark. They have more than earned my respect.
Tomorrow, onward to Iowa City, where I will be reconnecting with a friend, with whom I worked in Cedar Rapids many, many moons ago.