Saturday, June 18, 2016

Forsyth to Mount Rushmore

Our trip so far has been fantastic.  After Forsyth we went to Nashville, St. Louis, Mount Rushmore and today we hit Yellowstone. We spent a fun day in Nashville only to return to the campsite to a flat tire. I carry plenty of spare parts like bearings, races, two complete wheel hubs and two spares, so a spare tire was mounted and we were ready for the next day. It was a brand new tire flat too, WTF! The following day I brought it to a shop and they checked it out. Turns out that the guts in the valve were leaking so they replaced it at no charge! We’re definitely not in the northeast anymore Toto! Nashville was also a great stop.  A bit crowded with the festival, but fun. We visited “Recording Studio B” which was used by many of the great recording artists of the past and is still used today.  It was pretty neat to sit at the piano Elvis used in many of his songs and to stand exactly where he and many of the other artists (Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Frank Sinatra) stood at the mic while recording.
Off to St. Louis.  Of course the Arch was the first place we hit. They are rebuilding the entire waterfront so it wasn’t the most welcoming, but they still accommodate visitors. The engineering is amazing and in case you don’t know it, you can actually take a ride to the top. That is if you don’t mind sitting in a washing machine for 7 minutes. You get a great view of the entire city from the top. We also spent a day at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  Acres of different gardens and well worth the visit. They have many rare plants and do a lot of research. Well worth the visit if you go there.  Jess, being the gardening fanatic, had to be dragged out.
Our ride to Mount Rushmore was also wonderful. As you drive through the open plains, which can be boring, you come to the foot of the Black Hills and start climbing.  Our rig, trailer and truck, is 58 feet long and weighs 10,400 pounds but our 3500 Silverado with a diesel Duramax pulled it like a champ. More importantly going downhill the truck has a special trailer mode and an exhaust brake. I hardly have to put my foot on the brakes as we descend some pretty steep hills at a 7% grade for as long as 5 miles at times.
Mount Rushmore is a great story, four presidents representing: Founding (George Washington), Growth (Thomas Jefferson), Development (Theodore Roosevelt) and Preservation (Abraham Lincoln).  We learned a lot about how the mountain was carved and the men who worked on it.  We also visited Jewel Cave. This cave is the third largest in the world and is over 183 miles.  I don’t know how deep it is but we descended to a depth of 370 feet. The temperature is a constant 49 degrees, so bring a sweatshirt.  Or you can buy one in the gift shop like I did because I forgot mine at the campsite.
A ride through Custer State Park is a pleasant loop where you can see many a buffalo and prairie dogs barking at you to keep away from their mounds

Below are a few picture:

Elvis's Piano
X marks the spot where current and past artists stand to record.
Look at how old the tiles are.
The St. Louis Arch

One of many displays at the Missouri Botanical gardens

Mount Rushmore

A herd of Buffalo at Custer State Park 

An example of some of the roads and terrain traveled

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