19 July 2009

south dakota

I used to think I was a city girl, but seeing South Dakota just confirmed that (for me, at least) what Mother Nature has to offer will always trump any city. (This photo is of Sioux Falls.)

Yes, cities are different: Vienna is different from Shanghai, which is different from Dakar, which is different from Casablanca and Chicago and so on. But they sure do have a lot in common, too.

Nature, on the other hand, awes me, makes me quiet (for a change) and reminds me how magical the world is.

Here are the Badlands (or White Hills):

We were thrilled to hear we might see buffalo and practically jumped up and down in the car when we sighted our first buffalo in the Black Hills.

And then, we saw one just strolling along right next to us.

As we drove along, we also saw deer, antelope and prairie dogs.

Then, they warned us that there might be animals around.

One antelope with perfectly curved horns was so close to our window, we froze and didn't take a photo of it. Being face-to-face with an antelope is pretty humbling-- I was awed by its perfect beauty. (And for the trivia dorks out there, I thought it was interesting to learn that the difference between deer and antelope is that deer have antlers and antelope have horns.)

My partner is a big history buff, so we visited Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, both well worth seeing. Mount Rushmore can be seen from the winding road, so you can save yourself the $10 parking if you don't want to visit the museum.

I was surprised to see that Washington and Lincoln appeared to be facing one way, while Jefferson and Roosevelt were facing another. It was a beautiful sculpture, though (especially considering it was 'sculpted' mostly by dynamite), and for those who say it's small, I'd say that a sixty-foot-high face is quite large enough for me.

And man, they have a lot of work to do to finish Crazy Horse, but it will be incredible when it's complete.

Here's the design (flip 180 to match with above photo):

We saw the Mammoth Site, an archeological dig site where 57 mammoths have been unearthed, and gazed upon Washington's profile one last time over breakfast before heading through Nebraska and Wyoming down to Denver.