First leg of trip. Kinsley, KS
It was a wonderful time. We have been to the Rockies many times but seeing them on a motorcycle was completely different. The only way I have come to describe how different it is, think of riding in a car and seeing the mountains. That is like viewing the scenery on a 19" analog television. Seeing them on a motorcycle is like viewing the scenery on a 60" plasma high definition television. On a bike you feel like you are a part of the scene, you feel the wind gusts, you feel the temperature differences, you smell the pines, you see not through tinted windshields but through your own eyes, you can even feel the freshness and smell the the streams as they rush and ramble over the rocks. We'd take off to do this again tomorrow if we could. Never knew what we were missing riding in a cage, (car).
I took the computer for e-mail but didn't keep up on reading blogs or writing in ours. We took a real vacation, called home once and the phone was in the tour pack so no checking in except at night. We were so lucky, never once took rain suits out of the pouch, and when you think of 8 days in the Rockies and no rain, lucky. On top of the mountain at Rocky Mountain National Park we had snow flurries and 40 degrees. Even that was exciting. Coming through Wyoming we could see the rain and hail in the clouds moving east in front of us. As we got closer to the storm clouds they were just passing, all of a sudden hailstones hit us. By the time I could pull over it was done. The road wasn't even wet, just a few hailstones laying the side. Antelope herds in Wyoming on the side of the road, glad they stayed on the side of the road. As soon as you slowed they took off on a run.
Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorials. On a cool factor, Mt Rushmore was a 7.5, Crazy Horse was a 9. The Crazy Horse memorial is completely being done on a volunteer basis with private contributions. http://www.crazyhorsememorial.org/ One man started it and for pretty much 10 years worked alone. They have been working for 50 years on this and work will go on for another 50 years. His children and widow are carrying on the work. It was magnificent. When done it will be multiple times larger than Mt. Rushmore. There was so much more to see at Crazy Horse and it was so accessible. Native Americans staffed a cultural center and were hand making jewelry, blankets, dresses and toys for you to purchase. The proceeds help to build the memorial. The atmosphere at Crazy Horse was casual and reverent. Mt. Rushmore was built as a government project and it is a designated national park. As such, it is manned by the Park Service. The carving was magnificent. When you looked at the presidents it was almost as if they were looking back at you. It only took 14 years to complete the memorial and that included fundraising and Congressional bickering. The feeling at Mt. Rushmore was almost cold, all the park service employees dressed in their uniforms and you had a feeling they were there watching you instead of helping you. At Crazy Horse they even had a bin of rocks from carving the memorial. This bin of rocks were for you to take a rock with you home to be a part of the experience and the land. At Rushmore you were almost afraid to even touch a rock in fear you would be hauled away for violating some federal regulation.
We visited a mine in Creed, CO. The Last Chance Mine. That mine and The Crazy Horse Memorial were our favorite places, another cool factor 9. An individual bought this mine and has it open to public to see what mining was like long ago. He is doing this work himself. It was awe inspiring to see his passion and dedication. Some of the story is on their website. http://www.lastchancemine.com/ this mine was way up in the mountains above Creed and we would have NEVER known about this if our cousins had not taken us there. This place was one of the true highlights of our trip. In the picture below we had been talking to the owner and restorer of the mine. You can actually make a request to spend a night in a cabin at the mine. He is a truck driver during the week on his "regular job". The mine is open only Saturday's and Sunday's. A job and a passion. I'd be hard pressed to get me into that truck with an adventure like that mine waiting for me every day. He pays for his passion by selling rocks and jewels from the mine. He had amethyst and turquoise and other gems he has taken from the mine for sale in those boxes you see on tables behind us.
We rode through The Badlands. It is possible to see beauty in desolation.
We tried to stay off the interstates as much as possible. 2 lane state highways provided much of our enjoyment. Small towns, cornfields, sunflower fields, pastures and wildlife provide scenery that you would never see on an interstate highway. Small town cafes provided our meals. There are some good cooks out there, but there are some bad ones too. How is it you can mess up a breakfast of sausage and eggs, but some can.
We truly made this a vacation. We did not agonize over our son. We figured it is what it is, and when we return if there was a crisis it could wait. Closer to home.