Our “Great American Road Trip” started with the Rotchfords flying into Kansas City. We spent the time catching up on things and went out to
Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse for dinner. They had an unbelievable salad and sides bar that included gourmet salads, rare exotic vegetables, fresh breads (my favorite), imported cheeses, and cured meats. After all of that, who needed the main course. There was a continuous table side service of fifteen signature cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken cooked over an open flamed pit. The meats were served with traditional Brazilian side dishes of polenta, garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas and warm Pão de Queijo (bread cheese bread). We were given a small green and red sided chip. The green side signaled the “Gaueho” chefs to bring out skewers of sizzling meats, while the red side indicated a stopping point. To get more meat we simply displayed the green side again. It was very good but way too much food!
We flew into the Rapid City Regional Airport, picked up the rental car and was off on our adventure of the Black Hills. We arrived at the Crazy Horse Memorial, a carving of the Oglala Lakota warrior, an amazing sight on the side of the mountain. It is the world’s largest mountain carving and considered The Eighth Wonder of the World.
The Native American Educational and Cultural Center is at the base of Crazy Horse. Staff and Artist in Residence provided information about American Indian history and there was a wonderful display of head dresses and Indian clothing. At the back of the center, a stone model of the finished monument is placed so the carving is in the background.
We spent the night at Custer Holiday Inn Express, one of the best HIE we have ever stayed. The breakfast area and view from the windows were beautiful.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a massive, roughly 60 ft high, granite carving of the faces of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. the sculpture’s roughly 60-ft.-high granite faces depict U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
The Avenue of Flags, 56 flags leading up to the monument, was initially established as part of the celebration of the United States’ Bicentennial in 1976 The names of each state, district, commonwealth or territory are listed on the pillars directly below each flag. We have always liked having flags around, so this was a special sight walking under the flags.
Leaving the Presidents, we started our spectacular drive through Iron Mountain, Wildlife Loop, and Needles Highway, which form one big loop through sections of Custer National Park. The road sights ranged from pine and spruce forests, meadows surrounded by birch and aspen, rugged granite mountains and lots of wildlife. This drive was at the great speed of 20 to 25 mph, as we made our way around the hundreds of curves, pigtail bridges, one lane tunnels and sharp ascents and descents as we traveled the mountain road.
On the Needles Highway the granite formations seemed to pierce the horizon along the highway.
Among the magnificent Black Hills scenery we found buffalo herds, antelope, bighorn sheep, deer, turkeys and Prairie Dogs on the Wildlife Loop.
Stockade and Sylvan Lake was a beautiful place, one of Steve’s favorite sights.
We arrived at the Blue Bell Diner to have lunch. Before going in Steve needed something from the trunk, so we continued on in side. We had buffalo burger, our first. No it didn’t taste like chicken more like beef. As we walked out of the diner, an hour later, we saw the trunk open on the car. Steve had forgotten to close it. It was amazing, the computers and cameras were all still there in plain sight. Not a single thing was missing.