Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Asian Eyes' USA - South Dakota Bison and Mt. Rushmore

 I went to school in USA back in the early nineties. The 5 of us from Gulf Coast, Alabama, continued onto our our journey across Midwest America. Next target was Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore Memorial Park, the home of the 4 ex-President's statues. The trip was a 600 miles stretch, so we planned for stops by along the way. We drove through the night and along the way detoured to North Dakota state and then visited a South Dakota Native American settlement, the Sioux tribe. Sioux tribe roamed these land before the Pilgrim step foot on America. They used to hunt for a buffalo called American Bison and we were told they run wild in Badlands National park. We were on a look out for the woolly animal but no avail.
At Sioux land in South Dakota
 Right before Mt. Rushmore in Badlands National Park, I saw a sign that read "Wind Cave National Park" and asked Tony, who was driving, to pull in. There was no entrance fee to this national park, and we were taken to a cave tour by a lady park ranger, along with another 2 elderly American couple. Inside the cave the ranger explained about the million year old stalactites, stalagmites and honeycomb formations. Some of the formations had graffiti on them. Some older graffiti were preserved by the park but the newer one were erased. The ranger warned us not to leave behind our autograph. She pointed out a graffiti purported to be from Billy the Kid's when he sought refuge at the cave as an outlaw on the run from authority. 
At the entrance of Wind Cave National 
Park in Badlands
Bison which was hunted to
nearly to the brink of extinction
 We came up to the ground wiser, and as we exited the national park, just beside our car, was a group of Bison, about 9 of them! We had been looking for them high and low, and now they were just right in front of us. The woolly bison eyes were wide open looking at us, grunting with steam blowing out of their nostril in the shrill morning as they paved the fresh snow for edible roots. They were so near that I was about to reach out to touch them but were reigned in by the park ranger. "They are wild" she cautioned and told us to wait out for the group to move on.The feeling of being so near a mighty beast had my heart pumping fast. It was so unreal, like I was in a movie, and I forgot to snap some photo. Finally the herd moved out and we continued with our journey.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial ( parking area was deserted due to winter, a low season. We had to walk quite a distance to the national park entrance but the flags of all states and the world that lined along the road keep us amused. There was no entrance fee and visitors were a dime a dozen.  The 4 sculptures were carved onto the granite face of Mount Rushmore - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were majestic and breath taking. We spent a couple of hours exploring the National Park, clicking away, visiting a small museum outlining how the status comes about, and soaking in the atmosphere. We were not allowed to hike up to the statue to peer inside the nostril. We left when a cold front hit the park.
Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt 
and Lincoln for company
 Driving on, we changed course and drove south through Wyoming state to Colorado state and finally stopped at Denver city. We spend the night in a Motel 6 that we chanced upon. 5 of us bunked into the 1 room motel as usual. Students!

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