tayler and John A. McDonald travel the West coast

John A. Travels to California

Day Three Journal:  Monday, September 10, 2007 - Mt. Rushmore

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Day 01- Leave Ontario
Day 02 - Chicago
Day 03 - Mt. Rushmore
Day 04 - Yellowstone
Day 05 - Yellowstone
Day 06 - Up to Alberta
Day 07 - Banff & Lake Louise
Day 08 - Whistler, BC
Day 09 - Vancouver & Seattle
Day 10 - Mt. St. Helens
Day 11 - Coastal Hwy 1
Day 12 - San Fransico
Day 13 - Yosemite Park
Day 14 - Giant Redwoods
Day 15 - Hearst Castle
Day 16 - Los Angelos & COD
Day 17 - Hollywood
Day 18 - Thru the Bible & Vegas
Day 19 - Death Valley
Day 20 - Hoover Dam & Skywalk
Day 21 - Caverns & Grand Canyon
Day 22 - Grand Canyon - Hike
Day 23 - Grand C. - Hermit's Rest
Day 24 - Petrified Forest
Day 25 - Meteor Crater
Day 26 - Carlsbad Caverns
Day 27 - Dallas, Texas
Day 28 - Mississippi River
Day 29 - St. Loius
Day 30 - Detroit
Day 31 - Home to Woodstock

All images can be enlarged NOTE:
All images can be enlarged

Day three of our journey started after a good night’s sleep at the Super 8 motel in Chamberlain, South Dakota. We

Ronald beside statue of Eisenhower in Rapid City

Ronald with President Eisenhower

went downstairs to the free continental breakfast, and Ronald discovered the waffle maker.  Ronald made three waffles for myself and him. We struck up a conversation with a retired farmer from Idaho. Then we used the motel’s computer to place a V-Phone call to Ronald’s parents and his lady friend Ym in a three-way call.  It worked very well and they talked for 20 minutes. Then I called my parents and filled them in on everything. Unfortunately we had to do this all from the hotel lobby, as my computer will not connect to a wireless network.
We headed back onto I-90 West, and made it to Rapid City by 10:30. We decided to get breakfast in the downtown area, and so parked our car and started to walk around. A gentleman suggested a nice restaurant half a block down, so we went over there. We noticed a sign saying

John with Bush Senior
John with Bush Senior

OPEN AT 11:00 A.M.  It was five after 11, but the door was locked. We couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Suddenly it occurred to me that we must have crossed the time zone, so I checked with a lady, and sure enough, it was actually about 10:05. So after I reset my watch, we decided to look for another restaurant.
One of the very interesting things about Rapid City is that every street corner in the downtown area has a life-size bronze statue of the various presidents of the United States.  Ronald got his picture taken beside a couple, one of which was Eisenhower.  I had my picture taken leaning onto President Bush Sr., a short distance from where we ended up having breakfast.  The restaurant was a quaint little place with good food and good prices.  We noticed a lot of the people were North American Indian.

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

We then jumped back in the car and headed on down the road towards Mount Rushmore.  Ronald’s GPS kept crashing, but before it did, we were able to use the mp3 feature to listen to a little bit more of “In Search of America.”  It is an audio book about a reporter traveling all across the U.S. in the same area we are presently in.  It is quite interesting to listen to someone doing the same thing as ourselves.
We wound our way through sharp turns and steep hills to get to the top of Mount Rushmore.  Ronald thought that we would not be able to get very close, so I started shooting pictures as soon as I saw it.  As it turns out, they have completely renovated the visitor centre at Mount Rushmore, and it is a multi-million dollar facility, which is just spectacular.  I must have shot well over 200 photos, and was extremely impressed.  After we walked to the ledge for the primary viewing area, I noticed a lady holding what looked like a cell phone to her ear. 

Is this a peace conference?

She asked me if I could take a picture of her in front of an Indian Tepee, and we got talking.  It turns out she was on an audio tour.  I went back and purchased one for $5.00, and spent the next 1½ hour listening to commentaries as I walked around the entire facility. 
Underneath the viewing area in the basement was a huge museum all about the construction of Rushmore, including a few movies.  I found it extremely enlightening.  What was most impressive was the amount of stamina and vision it must have taken to create such a wonder.
The tour took us through a wooden trail with an interesting commentary about the creation of the Mount Rushmore memorial.  Apparently the Indians had not agreed to this, and had the land taken away from them.  Also, I noticed a large military bomber circling overhead.  This was a long-range bomber, and I wondered why it kept circling.
On the various stops along the walking trail, we got great photo opportunities.  I was able to get some very good quite close-up shots of the various heads of the presidents.  I was most impressed with the various quotations from President Lincoln.  He was an amazing man.  The trail was very well maintained with plastic planks underfoot.  Ronald walked a bit ahead of me, as I kept pausing with the audio tour.  The second half of the trail involved some 400 steps by the time we were done, and I was a bit winded.

John A. arrives at Mt. Rushmore
John A. arrives at Mt. Rushmore

I must say, that this stop left me very impressed with the sheer size and majesty of this monument.  I tend to think that we Canadians wouldn’t have the spirit to complete something like this.  At the same time, I wonder if they don’t perhaps worship their presidents a bit too much.
Another thing I noticed as we were approaching the mountain initially is that the tourist industry is huge in this area.  We went through a little town called Keystone, and there were all manner of tourist exhibits.  On the way out of Mount Rushmore, we stopped at a little ice cream stand.  Behind it there were some cabins for rent.  They went for between $80 and $180 per night.  I think the primary income in this area is from the tourist industry.
We left Mount Rushmore around 4:00, and headed west on Highway 16.  We decided not to follow the GPS but take the back roads toward Yellowstone.  This was actually the way the trip-tik from CAA led us. Along the way, we noticed there were several areas that had been burned out from forest fires.  We also noticed that when we got out of the tourist area, there didn’t seem to be a lot of money

Ronald with the four Presidents
Ronald with the four Presidents

around.  A lot of areas had mobile homes, and there was often an old rotten mobile home standing within a few feet of the new mobile home.  I can never understand why Americans don’t demolish things and instead just let them rot.
The countryside was rather dry, and there seemed to be never ending rolling hills of dry grass and scrub brush.  We would often see wild deer right alongside the roadway and in the fields beside the cows.  It was certainly not lush grazing land.  We also saw a huge stockyard with thousands of black cows apparently awaiting shipment.  That is when I got the idea that since we were in ranching country, we should have steak for supper.  So we stopped in the next old town called Newcastle, and fuelled up.  The attendant recommended a good restaurant which used to be an old mill.  We found the restaurant to be rather quaint and was indeed inside a large mill.  They served

The walkway to the base of Mt. Rushmore
The walkway to the base of Mt. Rushmore

delicious 12 oz. T-bone steak, and we had a good feed.
We also got talking to a few of the local men sitting at the table next to us.  They were very friendly, and the one fellow offered to show us into the basement of the mill where there were a few murals.  They turned out to be oil paintings all along the wall, and were quite well done.  They also had a few huge 5- foot high saw wheels that had been painted with beautiful landscapes.  They were very interested in our travels, and I could see that they were a little bit jealous.  I enjoyed meeting the local folks.
We headed out around 6:00, and decided to keep motoring until about 8:00.  Looking at the GPS told us we would likely be in Buffalo, Wyoming, around that time.  I called my mother on the cell phone and asked her to see if there was a Super 8 motel in Buffalo and what the address was so I could plug into the GPS. Mom e-mailed me back on

Bomber circling over Rushmore
Bomber circling over Rushmore

my cell phone, and we plugged it in, and then called them on the phone.  It turned out they were full.  We decided that the next city was too far away, and so we just went down the main drag looking for an alternate hotel.  We ended up staying in Motel 6, which is almost the same as the Super 8.  It seemed we got one of the last rooms available.

This hotel had DSL Internet Service.   I was able to get onto the Internet for the first time.  I was able to e-mail some photos back to mom, and also publish the first journal on my web page.  Ronald and I also went over the day’s crop of pictures, and we

were quite happy to see that almost all of them turned out very well.  By 10:00 we were ready to go to bed.

George Washington

George Washington





Teddy Rooseveldt

Teddy Rooseveldt



Tomorrow we head to Yellowstone, which is a couple hundred miles away.  I wonder what new adventures await us?

Today we had traveled 725 km.

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