Alaska Journey Day 6 / by Dave Hileman

The Underground Day

Well things are looking up. Of course it would have to be since we spent much of it 200 plus feet under the surface of the earth. It really feels like the vacation has begun here in South Dakota. We had just a super day. First we slept really well at the KOA, it takes a while to get completely acclimated to travel for me. After breakfast (and an extra coffee with a peach muffin from Mornin’ Sunshine - I said it was a super day:) we went to Wind Cave National Park. We were able to get a tour early and it was very interesting and quite different from the caves we have seen in the east. It is dry, constant 54 degrees and did not have the stalagmites etc. Mostly what were called “boxes” places where the interior dissolved leaving what would compare to mortar if you could take out the bricks. We were at one time over 24 stories down, lots of steps but they have elevators to get back. Except we saw that later that day the tours were closed because the elevators broke. I blame the Moose. 

Next Custer State Park, what a treat. Stunning scenery and lots of buffalo and some pronghorn. Then we went to Mt Rushmore. Still not my ideal kind of park but it was much better approaching by way of the Iron Mountain Road where you got great long-distance views including two framed by one lane tunnels. We took a short hike, half mile or so on the Presidential Trail. Nice closer views and you got to see the old studio. There were also another 200 or so steps down and up - no elevator. Then off to Jewel Cave and a really excellent tour, the Discovery Tour. I’ll write more about these later. So if you are keeping score, new park numbers 225 and 226 and one revisit but first time photographing. We ate our first meal in a restaurant this trip in Custer SD at the Black Hills Burger and Bun - watch for the Eats! next week. And then back to the beautiful grasslands over Wind Cave to shoot a sunset. I got set up but a big black cloud formed and the sunset did not materialize too well. What a fun day. 

Cadillac’s Most Correct Viewpoint

I expect you already guessed - no airports. I’m clearly stuck. And they unhooked the little caboose so that is not a good sign. Though it did get better in some respects. First I got a great muffin. The Driver and the Guide then disappeared underground. I’m not going there, no self respecting Moose would play in a hole in the ground so while they were, well wherever they were, I found a nice little shed and hooked into the electric power to charge my phone. Not getting timely response from my Moose Power Missive to Alaska. Probably just the time difference. By the way the Guides did the hole thing twice, I think they need therapy. But, as I eluded to at the start, not too bad because we went where they had giant heads and one of them was Roosevelt, the leader of the Bull Moose Party. I am inspired again. I will follow TR’s example and take the hill. We will achieve Moose Rights and, I add modestly, expect my image will soon be on top of that rock. North to Alaska!

The Heads framed by the pines on Iron Mountain Road

The Heads framed by the pines on Iron Mountain Road