Tuesday, September 1, 2015

South Dakota, Part 1

We left for South Dakota on Friday morning (8/14) and landed in Rapid City. Our first hotel was about an hour from there in Spearfish where my race was to take place on Saturday, August 16th. Spearfish is located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, and there are several nearby points of interest. We arrived pretty late on Friday night, so we pretty much just hit the sack so we could start fresh on Saturday. 
We decided to go check out Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument on Saturday morning before I picked up my race number. We headed though the beautiful Black Hills out to the Mount Rushmore monument, passing through quaint touristy “wild west” towns along the way. We traveled along the windy road that leads up to Rushmore, and suddenly, we caught a glimpse of the presidents! As we got closer, we realized the magnificence of the monument.
First glimpse of Rushmore from the car!

Getting closer...
It is really so strange to see Mount Rushmore in person after seeing it in books and photographs for your entire life. It seems surreal and unbelievable, but there it is. We parked and walked up to the entrance of the park, and I have to say, it is really impressive. A large stone gate marks the entrance and once inside, a gallery of pillars flanked by all of the flags of the states lines the walkway. On each pillar the name of the state and its date of statehood is listed, as well as its numerical order of entry in to the union. 

It was a very warm, beautiful day with picture perfect skies, and the white of the granite statues contrasted beautifully. What an amazing work of art for Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln, to have envisioned and created. The park is circled with a boardwalk trail that winds around the area providing many wonderful viewing angles. We loved soaking it all in. It is really cool to see how the perspective of the statues changes as you move around. 

Majestic view from the main balcony.
Future great Presidents?
Nostril view angle.
Rushmore selfie.
Silly fun in front of Mt. Rushmore.
Also of note, when you put your back toward Mount Rushmore and look out in the opposite direction, you have a gorgeous view of the South Dakota landscape, and wow, is that spectacular, too!
Our next stop was for lunch in Keystone, a wild west themed town. We ate at the Ruby House which is an old time saloon-feeling restaurant. It was filled with old west artifacts and artwork, and was certainly part of the experience of being in this part of the country. We walked around the town a little bit and shopped for a few souvenirs before hitting the road to Crazy Horse.
Keystone billboard.
The Crazy Horse monument is also impressive, although you can’t really get up close to it like you can at Mount Rushmore. Because it is an active construction site, you aren’t allowed to walk out to it from the parking lot. We got a great view of the monument in progress from the parking lot. A lovely welcome center and Indian Museum of North America are on site, and we spent some time there admiring the beautiful creations of the Native Americans.
Although Crazy Horse is still a work in progress, it was interesting to see. I thought it was cool that my little ones were able to see it under construction, as someday they may be able to come back with their families and visit it when it is complete. 
Crazy Horse Memorial.
After we left the Crazy Horse site, we headed back to our hotel. The hotel across the street from ours was the host site of the running expo and packet pick up. I went in and got my number, swag bag and nailed down a few last minute details like where the finish line was for my husband and kids to pick me up. It only took a few minutes, and then we were off again. 
We found a local mom and pop type restaurant for dinner in Spearfish called the Bayleaf Cafe. The restaurant boasted a slight Middle Eastern influence, but they also had several American and local cuisine dishes on their menu as well. We chose this restaurant for its fresh, made to order cooking and non-chain affiliation. It was a great meal. The girls and I all ordered spaghetti and meatballs. Perfect for pre-racing. 
As we dined, two women entered the restaurant and sat at the table next to us. I overheard them telling their waitress that  they were running the race the next day, so before we left I stopped to talk to them. One of the women, Liz (from Ohio) was running the full marathon in her quest of marathons in all 50 states. The other woman, Fiona (from South Dakota) was running the half. We chatted for a few minutes about our goals and wished each other well. It was back to the hotel to get ready for the morning and bed.
I had a feeling sleep wouldn't come easily for me, as I had some nervousness about having to get up at 3:30 am to catch the 4:15 am shuttle bus to the start of the race. Ugh! But to make matters even worse, just as we were all trying to fall asleep, my oldest daughter's tooth fell out! Now I had to worry about the tooth fairy coming after we all fell asleep! OH GOODNESS! And to top it all off, our tooth fairy has a creative side and likes to origami her dollar bills, which I'm sure takes some research and preparation. Wonderful. Goodbye early to bed. By the time I finally fell asleep it was past midnight, and I awoke a few times for bathroom breaks, too. Not much rest, but so be it.

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