Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 44- Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave

We headed to the Wind Cave for the Natural Entrance first thing this morning and saw this coyote.  He was sitting up until we stopped the car to take a picture and then he crouched down.
We got to the cave for the first tour of the day! 
 The Wind Cave was discovered by a 16 year old boy who discovered 10 miles of it using only a lantern.  He discovered it because he was walking by a grassy area where it was whistling.  When he went and stuck his head in the hole, the wind blew off his hat.  The next time he went back, the hole sucked his hat in.  As it turns out `this was a barometric cave and the wind direction changes based on pressure.  Logan is feeling the gust of wind- today, it was sucking air in!
 This is the third cave we have been inside of on this trip.  We felt like this one gave us the best sense of what the early cavers must have felt like.  Carlsbad was awesome, but in a totally different way. The massiveness of Carlsbad was very impressive, but this was a tighter squeeze with narrow passages.  Currently, 147 miles of passages have been discovered in the Wind Cave.
 Wind Cave also has 95% of the "boxwork" formations that have been discovered in the world's cave system.

 After the wind cave, we had pie iron pizzas for lunch over the fire and then took a nap due to the late night we had planned at Mount Rushmore.  As we were pulling out, one of the rangers came by and told us that hail was on the way.  We did not get caught in any hail, but happened across this as we were driving.  The hail covered huge hillsides and was this big!
 As we rounded one corner, we came into a large traffic jam.  South Dakota has a population of 814,180 people, so we didn't think it could be a huge jam of people.  We thought it was bison (which is NOT the same as the buffalo) or a tree down from the storm.  We were finally able to get eyes on the problem, and there were bison everywhere.
 I do not think they enjoyed the hail storm.
 You can see here how the bison were scattered all over the field- there were hundreds of them.
 The drive to Rushmore was beautiful.  At one point, we drove through a tunnel and then saw this opening of the trees!
 We walked through the Avenue of Flags and found Georgia...
 ... and then had this in our view as we had a picnic dinner!
 We walked the Presidential Trail (0.6 miles) which had information about Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln.  It took you up to the base of the mountain.
 Then we sat and waited while they got ready to turn on the lights.  In the meantime, a woman that I taught with at Collins Hill 3 years ago sat down right in front of us.  It was ironic to see someone from our inner circle so far from home!
 They had a ranger do a short talk about the Constitution of the United States and then showed a short (20-minute) movie about the construction of Mount Rushmore and a little bit about each president.  I could not believe that Mount Rushmore took 14 years to build!
 As we left, we saw the beautiful moon- it was amazing!

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