Current Location: Mount Rushmore KOA, Hill City, South Dakota
After deciding yesterday that we would visit Mount Rushmore, we realized that we could actually stay in the area overnight and still be ahead of schedule, so we made reservations at the Mount Rushmore KOA ($$$$$) and headed out from Mitchell.
The eastern half of South Dakota is flat farmland, so we were excited to come across the Missouri River and the valley that it is in. There is a really nice rest area and welcome center on the hill overlooking the river valley, so we stopped and hiked around a bit to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.
Once we left the rest area, it was a long downhill to the bridge seen in the picture, above, across the Missouri River. Val took a picture as we crossed.
One interesting thing happened just after we had left a rest area – the Tire Pressure Monitoring System started beeping and showing an under-pressure condition on one of the trailer tires. Malcolm pulled over and the tire looked fine visually. He grabbed the tool to remove the sensor from the valve stem and checked the pressure manually with a tire gauge. It was normal (around 108 PSI), so he put the sensor back on the stem. Everything was fine after that. The only thing we can figure is maybe the sensor was not on tight and a little air leaked past.
During the trip, we fought a pretty stiff headwind most of the way across South Dakota. The trailer was rocking pretty good, but nothing scary. Fuel mileage suffered, as expected. We were also slowly gaining altitude all day, as well, so the transmission didn’t spend much time in overdrive. When we got off our exit at Rapid City, Malcolm pulled into a truck stop to go to the restroom. When he opened his truck door, the wind was so strong it yanked it out of his hand. We estimate there was a constant 30-40 MPH wind all day.
Once we made the climb through the hills out of Rapid City, we found the KOA on the road to Mount Rushmore (closest campground to the site). We checked in and got a pull-through 50 amp site (though we had reserved and paid for a back-in 30 amp site). Given how expensive the campground was, that helped. Next time, we’ll find a cheaper place (we didn’t take advantage of any of the campground amenities, though there were plenty).
Once settled in, we grabbed cameras and sunglasses and drove up to Mount Rushmore. We parked on the upper parking deck and strolled around the place for a couple hours. We ate dinner at the restaurant there, did some shopping, got our passport book stamped, took pictures, had ice cream, and generally wasted time until the program they have at dark when they light up the monument. We had gotten there around 3:30 and stayed until about 9:30.
When we got back to the trailer, Malcolm found that the park wi-fi was fairly useless (it is a huge park and it was full) and being out in the middle of nowhere, our internet device and our phones had little to no signal at all. (This post is being made the day after).
Inside the sculptor’s studio is a 1/12 scale sculpture of the presidents that was used for measurements on the mountain.
I-90 continues to be a lonely road. We did manage to snag 29 of 51 plates today. We’re wondering if anyone in North Dakota ever gets out and travels. You’d think being in South Dakota, we’d see more plates from there. Also, we’re wondering why we see a proliferation of Maine plates on semi truck trailers (different carriers).