For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone Park . After years of begging people to go with me and having no luck, I learned that my friend, Colleen, had a similar yearning. So we coordinated our calendars, booked our trip, packed up the dogs, and headed out West.
Cute Danny and I were to fly from NYC to meet Colleen and Andy in Minneapolis, and then fly together to Rapid City, SD. We were to then drive to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Devil’s TowerDevil’s Tower, ending up in Yellowstone Park. I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, this trip would’ve been on it.
What Really Happened
1. The government shut down…thereby closing all National Parks.
2. There was a blizzard that shut down South Dakota…for days. Highways and major roads closed, people warned to ‘stay inside’, ‘ no travel allowed’… and so we camped out at The Holiday Inn Express. We’re on Day 4, as of this writing, but the airport’s still closed…so who knows when I’ll sleep in my bed again. (PostScript: I made it home and slept in my own bed by Day 5.)
Day 1 was awesome. We drove to Mt. Rushmore, which was closed…but so what. The mountain is so big, we didn’t need to go inside. We only had to look up! It was absolutely breathtaking.
From there we drove to Bear Country, a wildlife park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It, too, was pretty amazing. Lots of bears and dozens of other wildlife species. We spent a couple of hours there, driving around looking at the animals.
Our next stop was Reptile Gardens, which is billed as having the largest collection of reptile species in the world. It was great, and pretty educational…if one needs to know a lot about reptiles.
On the way back, we stopped at Peggy’s diner. They have lots of things made from buffalo. Things that I don’t expect to made from buffalo…like hot dogs.
That night, we had dinner “in town” at The Firehouse Brewing Company , a popular restaurant housed in an old firehouse, where they are known for the variety of beers they brew. It was crowded and we had, apparently, stumbled on a local hot spot. We were almost pinching ourselves at how much fun we had that day.
Day 2 we were supposed to head out to Yellowstone Park but Mother Nature had a different idea. The blizzard hit fast and hard. This was nothing like the blizzards I’ve experienced in NYC. This was a blizzard on steroids. We were warned not to go outside…but we did anyway. (Idiots). We didn’t get far. The wind was strong and the snow felt like glass on our faces, so we humbly turned around and began our plan to settle in at the hotel.
Days 3-4 were pretty much the same. Hang out in the room. Hang out in the lobby. Hang out in the dining area. Hang out some more in the room. Play Words with Friends. Facebook. Tweet. Eat gas station food. Eat chips and candy bars from the vending machine. (No restaurant at the hotel). Try to convince the dogs that going outside is a good idea. (They weren’t so sure about that.)
Colleen and I laughed about how happy we were that we get along so well. Otherwise, being stuck in a hotel room for 96 hours-and-counting could have been it’s own special hell.
I even became bored enough to dabble in online dating again…which I claim to hate.
I did see –up close– an elk that had been killed by a man and his son for their winter dinners. I was a bit grossed out, but also tried not to be a hypocrite. I eat animals, I just don’t kill them. I have to remember that buying from a supermarket and restaurant isn’t superior, it’s just less messy.
The airlines played games with us a lot and, honestly, that was the worse part of this trip, because they kept rescheduling our flights home –> then canceling them. I wanted them to stop getting my hopes up and then snatching hope away. Reminded me of Lucy, Charlie Brown, and that darned football.
It’s funny. This was still a really great trip that I’m glad I took…despite all the madness. I guess I’ll soon start planning my next attempt at Yellowstone, hopefully, with better results.