The Mount Rushmore presidents were the brain child of Gutzon Borglum, a sculptor, who was already in his 60s when he started the project in 1927. Luckily his son, Lincoln, assisted him and saw the completion of his name sake and the three other presidents in 1941, just a few months after Gutzon died!

The original concept was for a much bigger sculpture, with the figures depicted to their waists, but typically the money ran out and we have to be content with just their heads…….. Still an amazing legacy!

This was Borglans original model which the masons and artists worked to.

This was Borglum’s original model which the masons and artists worked from.

 

Washington in profile from the road leading to our campsite.

Washington in profile from the road leading to our campsite.

 

We had arrived early, for once, and made our way down to Keystone; a tourist town that lies at the foot of Mt Rushmore. Chain saw carving by local artists dominate the lower end of the town.

We had arrived early, for once, and made our way down to Keystone; a tourist town that lies at the foot of Mt Rushmore. Chain saw carving by local artists dominate the lower end of the town. As you can see by the number of photos, it was pretty amazing stuff!

Some beautiful work.

Some beautiful work….

.....and more!

…..and more!

ditto!

ditto!

....and finally.

….and finally.

Mount Rushmore as we drove up thinking we were going to be too late for the lighting up, but again we had crossed a time barrier and were half an hour early!!

This is the view of Mount Rushmore at twilight. We drove up thinking we were going to be too late for the lighting up ceremony………but again we had crossed a time barrier and were half an hour early!!

The lighting up ceremony is one full of patriotic fervour. As well as a bit about Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, there is a lot of flag waving and grandiose statements about the greatness of America. Servicemen and women and veterans were asked to go onto the stage for the national anthem and a to be thanked for their service........and then the lights came up to rapturous applause. Maybe I am a little cynical, but thank goodness there's no room for the present incumbent's head......even if it were of a normal proportion!

The lighting up ceremony is one full of patriotic fervour.

As well as a bit about Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, there is a lot of flag waving and celebration of the greatness of America. Servicemen and women and veterans were asked to go onto the stage for the national anthem and a to be thanked for their service……..and then the lights came up to rapturous applause. Maybe I am a little cynical, but thank goodness there’s no room for the present incumbent’s head……even if it were of a normal proportion!

Back down onto the plains and on our way to Deadwood.

Back down onto the high plains and on our way to Deadwood Gulch. The yellow fields are mile after mile of sunflowers. The silver space ships on the right are the local farmers co operative silos. Judging by the landscape, they must travel miles of farm tracks to bring there produce to the road.

The Deadwood trail still exists next to the road and there are occasional 'Stage Stations' where the stage coaches would have changed horses.

The Deadwood trail was one of the main gold rush trails bringing prospectors, gamblers, settlers and good time girls out east to seek their fortunes. The trail still exists next to the road and there are occasional ‘Stage Stations’ where the stage coaches would have changed horses. Every year there is a reenactment that travels the length of the trail…..I don’t think it’s with wagons though!

DSC02181

Off the plains and back into 'them thar hills' on the way to Deadwood Gulch.

Off the high plains and back into ‘them thar hills’ on the way to Deadwood Gulch.

Deadwood, of Calamity Jane fame and Dorris Day singing ‘Oh the Deadwood stage is comin on over the hill’, is now a tourist town, but at the height of the gold rush it was a bustling, dirty, lawless muddy street with boardwalks, brothels and boozers. We pitched up in Saloon No.10…..named for the fact that it was the 10th saloon to open in the town…..not very imaginative!!  It was here that Wild Bill Hicock played his last game of poker and was shot down by a no good dirty varmint. We timed our libation too perfection and were there to see the reenactment take place!

Wild Bill filling us in on the life he led.

Wild Bill filling us in on the life he led.

 

 Outside Saloon No.10 on the High Street.

Outside Saloon No.10 on the Main Street.

 

.....and inside.

…..and inside.

 

Another inside. What suddenly struck us, here in Saloon No.10, was that the Saturday morning cinema westerns we were brought up on, were not about the real olden days, because the history of the wild west is here on the walls of the bar in photographs!

Another inside and an epiphany!
What suddenly struck us, here in Saloon No.10, was that the Saturday morning cinema westerns we were brought up on, were not about a centuries old struggle between Cowboys and Indians, because the history of the wild west was captured here on the walls of the bar in photographs taken at the time…….so that must have been after the camera was invented!!

 

Deadwood's tourist information centre in the form of an old Chuck wagon.

Deadwood’s tourist information centre in the form of an old Chuck wagon.

 

Back on the trail across the high plains to the town of Sheridan and back into phone signal range.

Back on the trail across the high plains to the town of Sheridan and back into phone signal range.

Our campsite on an old battlefield in Sheridan.

Our campsite on an old battlefield in Sheridan.

This was two days after my Mum broke her hip and I was desperate to call my sister, Libby, to find out how she was doing. No need to have worried…..My Mum had had an operation to plate and pin the hip and three hours after, she was telling the nurses where I was and what I was doing! She was the stellar patient, having recovered faster than anyone expected and being totally with it. My sister had dropped everything and flown straight over from Ireland to be with her. Being so far away made me feel a bit useless and very concerned! A broken hip at 98 is no small thing.

Passing on therough Big Horn National Forest we were heading for Cody. Pictures cannot do justice to the magnificent scenery.

Passing on through Big Horn National Forest we were heading for Cody. Pictures cannot do justice to the magnificent scenery.

Imagine the determination and logistics of driving a road and wagon trains through this terrain!

Imagine the determination and logistics of driving a road and wagon trains through this terrain!

Awesome......

Awesome……

A selfie at the top of the pass and then down through gorges on the other.

A selfie at the top of the pass and then down through passes and gorges on the other side.

On our way down to Cody.

On our way down to Cody.

Almost there.

Almost there.

We stayed at The Ponderosa campsite in Cody for two nights.

And we arrived……..We stayed at The Ponderosa campsite in Cody for two nights. We didn’t stay in these…..just behind the camera was the tent site.

The site on the Ponderosa we didn't pitch tent......a little too arid and steep for us!

The other tent site at the Ponderosa we didn’t pitch tent……a little too arid and steep for us!

The first night we went to a real live Rodeo.....Marcus bought the shirt to look the part. (you'll see the shirt in a later picture!)

The first night in Cody, we went to a real live Rodeo…..Marcus bought a new shirt to look the part. (you’ll see the shirt in a later picture!)

More from the Rodeo. It's a really dangerous sport and one of the bull riders fell and broke his arm.....he had trouble scaling the fence to get clear of the bull he'd fallen off!

More from the Rodeo. It’s a really dangerous sport and one of the bull riders fell and broke his arm…..he had trouble scaling the fence to get clear of the bull he’d fallen off!

Cody is named after Buffalo Bill Cody. As all of you Saturday morning cinema goers will recall, Buffalo Bill had a travelling Wild West show that toured America. Well in the late 1800’s, he took his show to Europe. His visit to England received Royal recognition in the form of a rosewood bar, presented to him by Queen Victoria in thanks for his entertaining show…..not an easy gift to transport, but they managed to haul it across the mountains and plains and it sits resplendent in the hotel bar. In Cody we met some new friends. Sergio, Veronica and their daughter, Fausta. They were on their return from Alaska, in their RV, back home to Playa del Carmen, in Mexico. More friends to visit when we make our way into the western Caribbean in 2019!

Sergio, Veronica and.....?...out side Buffalo Bill's hotel, waiting for the reenactment of a gun fight.

Sergio, Veronica and Fausta, out side Buffalo Bill’s hotel, waiting for the reenactment of a gun fight.

Tension building outside the saloon!

Tension building outside the saloon!

There's the shirt getting in on the act!!

There’s the shirt getting in on the act!!

 

On the road again, just north of Cody, there is the dam that saves this area from being desert and allows the town and its neighbouring ranches to survive.

On the road again and just north of Cody, there is the dam that saves this area from being desert and allows the town and its neighbouring ranches to survive.

This wooden ball was one of the original 'plugs' that were lowered down the lakeside wall of the dam to stop the flow.......so simple but effective!

This wooden ball was one of the original ‘plugs’ that were lowered down the lakeside wall of the dam to stop the flow…….so simple but effective!

 

More stunning scenery on our way towards Yellowstone Park.

More stunning scenery on our way towards Yellowstone Park.

 

This extraordinary house was on a hill on one side of the road in the middle of nowhere .........

This extraordinary house was on a hill on one side of the road in the middle of nowhere ………

 

.......while on the other we saw this! The inspiration for one must come from the other, but it's horrendous to think of the number of deer or elk that were shot to build this trophy stack!

…….while on the other we saw this! The inspiration for one must come from the other, but it’s horrendous to think of the number of deer or elk that were shot to build this trophy stack!

 

More amazing scenery on our way to Yellowstone.

More amazing scenery on our way to Yellowstone. What must the early settlers have thought when the came across this grandeur?

 

Yellowstone National Park at last!

Yellowstone National Park at last! This was just after we entered the park, before we drove uphill again to Yellowstone Lake, which sits in the caldera of this vast ‘active’ volcano at 8,000′. We booked in to Bridge Bay campsite for two nights….not really long enough to do justice to the wonders Yellowstone holds, but we managed to see a great deal!

 

 

Today the lakes shores are far less concerned with commerce and slave smuggling and more to do with relaxation.

Today the lake’s shores are far less concerned with commerce and slave smuggling and more to do with relaxation.

 

From Lake Erie we drove up to Lodington on the east shore of Lake Michigan. After an uncomfortable night in the back of the car, we boarded the morning ferry bound for Manitowoc, Wisconsen...........and Yes that is steam rising above Marcus' head!

From Lake Erie we drove up to Lodington on the east shore of Lake Michigan. After an uncomfortable night in the back of the car, we boarded the morning ferry bound for Manitowoc, Wisconsin………..and Yes, that is steam rising above Marcus’ head!

 

Leaving port with a view of our 'Badger's' sister ship tied up. They were both built in 1952 and Badger is the last surviving steam powered ferry in the northern hemisphere.....there is one other in NZ. Her sister is kept alongside for spares. I felt a bit sad for her:(

Leaving port with a view of our ‘Badger’s’ sister ship tied up. They were both built in 1952 and Badger is the last surviving steam powered ferry in the northern hemisphere…..there is one other in NZ. Her sister is kept alongside for spares. I felt a bit sad for her:(

 

We picked the rainiest day, but there was worse to come, so it was probably just as well!

We picked the rainiest day, but there was worse to come, so it was probably just as well!

 

Built in my birth year and commissioned in Marcus's!

Built in my birth year and commissioned in Marcus’s!

 

Leaving Lodington. Waves can build to 15ft on the lake. The week before they had to cancel a crossing.....

Leaving Lodington. Waves can build to 15ft on the lake. The week before they had to cancel a crossing…..

.......Yiiiikes! Not really. Just slight of hand with the camera!

…….Yiiiikes!
Not really. Just slight of hand with the camera!

 

We weren't quite sure to go once we left the ferry, but having spotted a town named after us, there was no question about it...... we were Hayward bound!

We weren’t quite sure to go once we left the ferry, but having spotted a town named after us, there was no question about it…… we were Hayward bound!

 

Having strolled around the town, we found a tranquil site, by the river and on the edge of the town. Hayward makes its money from tourism, but puts on at least two big events in the year. A national fishing competition and a national logging competition!

Having strolled around the town, we found a tranquil site, by the river and on the edge of the town. Hayward makes its money from tourism, but puts on at least two big events in the year. A national fishing competition and a national logging competition!

 

Hayward at the centre of his world!

Hayward at the centre of his world!

 

The Logging competition has its own purpose built arena with designated logging skill sections: as far as I could gather these include tree felling, log hauling, log rafting and log walking. Good to see Hayward keeping the skills alive!

The Logging competition has its own purpose built arena with designated logging skill sections: as far as I could gather these include tree felling, log hauling, log rafting, log walking and of course the slippery pole thingy. Good to see Hayward keeping the skills alive!

The following morning we were up, packed up and the gas strut mended on the tail gate of the car, all by 7.30……..yes you’ve guessed it…..all our battery driven watches were flat AND we’d crossed another time zone!! so off we went for breakfast at the best Mc Donalds we’ve ever seen, and we have certainly seen a fair few on this trip! …..A log fire, rocking chairs, comfy sofas and the interior all done in log cabin style aaand they had good Wifi!!

With T shirts purchased printed with Hayward, we were ready to move on towards Minnesota’s capital, Minneapolis. Being a Saturday night, we knew campsites might be busy, but usually they can squeeze a small tent in…..not tonight though! We made our way to a Truck Stop and were given a space next to the kitchen and the bins and after a trip into town, we settled down to a smelly night, but with the benefit of a great shower in the morning. Sleeping in the car entails shifting our bags into the front seats, blowing up the air bed and laying it on top of the three storage boxes and ice box and the back seat. Marcus then lies diagonally across the bed and I fit into any space left!

We then had to cross South Dakota on our way to Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. This scenery didn't change for hour upon hour. We did come across a small town called Miller and stopped at a roadside shack for an ice cream. There we met Brett, who runs the ice cream parlour and take away for 6 months and lives the other 6 months in Honduras on the island of Roatan......we said we will probably see him there in 2019!

We then had to cross South Dakota on our way to Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills.

This scenery didn’t change for hour upon hour. We did come across a small town called Miller and stopped at a roadside shack for an ice cream. There we met Brett, who runs the ice cream parlor and take away for 6 months and lives the other 6 months in Honduras on the island of Roatan……we said we will probably see him there in 2019!

We traveled on to Pierre, the capital city of S Dakota and camped just below a dam. It was the day of the solar eclipse, but we were a little too far north to see anything more than twilight. That day there was a severe thunderstorm alert for the campsite so, rather than stay and get drenched, we took off in the car for Piere and some lunch. We have never seen such a torrential, monsoon like, tempest like, biblical deluge! When the hail stones started, we made for cover and drove under a petrol station forecourt, before we were smitten with frogs and locusts !!!……this was the 22nd of August and the same day that my Mum fell and broke her hip! Having received the news, it put a dampener on our journey to Mt Rushmore, but the news from home, by the end of the day was looking a little more hopeful.

En Route to Rushmore, we got sucked into the advertising for Wall Drug. What was it, where was it and what was it?.....we were to find out!

En Route to Rushmore, we got sucked into the advertising for Wall Drug. What was it? Where was it? and Why was it?…..we were to find out!

 

Set next to the bluff that rises of this high plain, is the small town if Wall. Naming places in the US is simple.....you either call the town after where you came from in the old country or use a description!

Set next to the bluff that rises off this high plain, is the small town if Wall. Naming places in the US is simple…..you either call the town after where you came from in the old country or use a description!

 

Wall Drug is a drugstore that set up in the late 1800s. the new road bringing settlers and prospectors west, ran slightly to the north of Wall. Things were hard for Wall Drug, until the pharmacist's wife hit on the idea of offering free iced water for travelers who detoured. The bills boards are now up as far away as Minneapolis and they certainly worked on us! This is Marcus enjoying his free water!

Wall Drug is a drugstore that was set up in the late 1800s. The new road, bringing settlers and prospectors west, runs slightly to the north of Wall. Things were hard for Wall Drug, until the pharmacist’s wife hit on the idea of offering free iced water for travelers who made the detour to Wall and sent her husband and son out with hand painted signs to put up on the highway. The bill boards are now up as far away as Minneapolis and they certainly worked on us! This is Marcus enjoying his free water!

 

Wall Drug is an emporium par excellance! There is something for everyone and they are ready to take you money at every turn.

Wall Drug is an emporium par excellance! There is something for everyone and they are ready to take you money at every turn.

 

The famous last poker game of Wild Bill Hicock!

The famous last poker game of Wild Bill Hicock! Who’s that in the background?

 

It had to be done!

It had to be done!

 

At last we arrived at Mount Rushmore and managed to find a free dispersed campsite right behind the illustrious gentlemen!

At last we arrived at Mount Rushmore and managed to find a free dispersed campsite right behind the illustrious gentlemen!

 

Behind Mount Rushmore.

Behind Mount Rushmore.

Our home for the night. This site was too small for the big tent, so our 'Little Blue' came out again.

Our home for the night. This site was too small for the big tent, so our ‘Little Blue’ came out again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So so sorry to have left You, my dear reader, in the dark for so long!!

As you can see from the date of this posting, time has moved on……..I had a 5 week break in Blighty, to attend to my mum’s break ……of her left hip!!  For a 98 year old to have made such an incredible recovery is astounding. I have been dismissed from my rehabilitation duties and am writing this in an hotel in Orlando, after another cock up on the transfer flight front!! If all goes to plan I will meet up with Marcus later today 12.10.17 in Austin Texas…..fingers crossed!

Before I get onto updating the early part of our road trip, I should put your mind at rest and tell you that although Irma tried her damndest to destroy everything in her path, thankfully IK sustained fairly superficial damage to her sugar scoop (stern) and the wind steering in the furore that hit Jacksonville. We will be back onboard in the next 3 or 4 weeks and get our sleeves rolled up to make her good again. Jacksonville seems to have been both our saviour and our nemesis!

I have got so far behind with news and events that I have decided to use pictures to update you as far as our road trip goes…….all packed up with everything including a kitchen…….if not exactly the kitchen sink, we were ready for the road. Our friends, Cecil and Robin, had loaned us said camping kitchen and a good sized tent for the adventure and on the first of August we set off. Not wishing to go too far, incase the car failed at the first hurdle, we decided to head up the coast to Savannah.

Our trusty stead for the road trip of a lifetime!

Our trusty stead for the ‘road trip’ of a lifetime!  …….A 2002 Chrysler Voyager ‘mini van’. Only 67,000 on the clock……one carefully lady owner??! Fully checked out by mechanic, new brakes, wipers and hoses fitted by Marcus and we’re ready for the off!

 

Our first night in Savannah.

Our first night in Savannah. Camp sites come complete with raised well drained platforms, a fire pit and picnic table provided…….just add tent!

 

Glamping with camping kitchen and double camp cot!

Glamping with camping kitchen and double camp cot! At our age who wants to spend 3 months grovelling on the floor?…….Certainly not Marcus!

Home from home n Savannah.

Home from home in Savannah. 

 

A town built with the possibility of flooding in mind.

A town built with the possibility of flooding in mind.

Onward and upward to Greenville and our first look at the Appalachian mountains.

Onward and upward to Greenville and our first look at the Appalachian mountains.

Near Ashville and the start of the Blue Ridge adventure.

Near Ashville and the start of the Blue Ridge adventure.

The decent from here made the brakes smoke as we sought out our first night of wild camping and a flat tyre!

The decent from here made the brakes smoke, as we sought out our first night of wild camping and awaking to a flat tyre!

Puncture repaired by a 'very nice man' we headed for a bit of local culture at the Blue Ridge music centre. Fiddlers and Flat Shoe dancers keeping the folk music alive.

Puncture repaired by a ‘very nice man’ we headed for a bit of local culture at the Blue Ridge music centre. Fiddlers and Flat Shoe dancers keeping the folk music alive.

One use for old violins in Galax......probably the most risky breakfast we've ever eaten was eaten here in a very seedy cafe/bar. Food hygiene is a thing of the future here!

One use for old violins in Galax, the home of a national Fiddlers Convention at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains. One of  the most risky breakfasts we’ve ever eaten was eaten here in a very seedy cafe/bar. Galax….a town that is keeping old traditions alive and where hygiene is a thing of the future!

On to  historical Harper's Ferry where the Shenendoah and Potomac rivers meet.

On to historical Harper’s Ferry where the Shenendoah and Potomac rivers meet.

The general store, Harper's Ferry. The strange thing is that this history only dates back to the 1800s just before my grandparents were born!

The general store at Harper’s Ferry. The strange thing is that this history only dates back to the 1800s just before my grandparents were born!

Part of the rifle lecture at Harper's Ferry. The water powered munitions factories prospered here in the 19th C.

Part of the rifle lecture at Harper’s Ferry. The water powered munitions factories prospered here in the 19th C and they claim to have produced the first massed produced weapons in their forges…….just look what that’s lead to! 

The old canal at Harper's Ferry

The old canal at Harper’s Ferry links the two rivers to the east coast and the Intra coastal waterway. Superseded by the railway, it’s a testament to the determination and drive of this very young nation to develop potential industrial centres……even if they happen to be in the middle of nowhere!

View from our next campsite on the banks of the Potomac. We saw our first fireflies and had our first campfire.

View from our next campsite on the banks of the Potomac. We saw our first fireflies and had our first campfire……..not quite as peaceful as it looks as the railway, that I mentioned in Harper’s Ferry, sandwiches the campsite with the river!

 

En route to Pittsburgh, we stopped off to savour the scenery.....mountains, trees and rivers abound.

En route to Pittsburgh, we stopped off to savour the scenery…..mountains, trees and rivers abound.

Our free campsite south of Pittsburgh.

Our free campsite south of Pittsburgh.

This campsite is on a trail and the shelters and campsites are really meant for cyclists or hikers, but hey! We parked in the car park and walked all our gear in, so I think that qualifies!

This campsite is on a trail and the shelters and campsites are really meant for cyclists or hikers, but hey! We parked in the car park and walked all our gear in, so I think that qualifies!

We drove into town and had the unexpected treat of a Boccia tournament being played under the overpass in Pittsburgh. Then on into the Heinz museum to get educated!

We drove into town and had the unexpected treat of a Boccia tournament being played under the overpass in Pittsburgh. Then on into the Heinz museum to get educated!

The following day, back at the park where we were camping, there was a totally unexpected car festival that arrived overnight!

The following day, back at the park where we were camping, there was a totally unexpected car festival that arrived overnight!

 

........and our first funnel cake......doughnut batter trickled into hot fat through a funnel!!

……..and our first funnel cake……doughnut batter trickled into hot fat through a funnel!!

Leaving this great campsite behind, we headed north towards the Great Lakes and the old logging and fishing town town of Sandusky.........

Leaving this great campsite behind, we headed north towards the Great Lakes and the old logging and fishing town town of Sandusky………

.........on the banks of Lake Erie...........that's Canada over there!

………on the banks of Lake Erie………..that’s Canada over there! The Sandusky museum gave us an insight into its hay day as a fresh water fish supplier to major cities, a logging port and ice harvesting centre! The water here was so pure that when the lake froze, gangs of loggers turned there hand to cutting, harvesting and storing massive amounts of ice for distribution to major cities as far away as New York during the summer months. It was also and important ‘smuggling’ port at the end of the slave underground network, where local fishermen took runaway slaves across to Canada…….for a price!