NOTE: Daily posting was interrupted by lack of Internet service. I also mis-underestimated how tired I would be at the end of the day. I will try to catch up. Maybe.
Tuesday morning in Wall, SD started with a drizzly, dreary, foggy overcast sky. Thank cheesus we drove through the badlands the day before or we would have seen very little. Parts of the park were shrouded completely in fog. One positive, the rain water darkened the reds and yellows of the landscape ... if you cold see them through the fog.
Our first destination of the day, the geek portion of our vacation, was a Minuteman III Missile silo just out of town. We arrived at the unassuming site and talked to the ranger. He told us about tours that we had not been aware of. A cell phone call to the main office confirmed the tours but they were booked solid for the month of June. We looked around the silo area. The silo blast door was open and there was a glass cover keeping the dummy missile dry.
We headed to the main office to get more information. After listening to the ranger we asked if we could get on the tour and were pleasantly surprised that we could! We now had three hours to kill until the tour so we drove through the badlands (drive through number two) back to Wall and ate brunch.
After brunch we went to the Wounded Knee Museum. The building is small and rather unassuming from the outside but on the inside is a very well done history of the mistreatment of the Native American peoples and the massacre at Wounded Knee.
Back to the Missile headquarters (Badland drive through number three) just in time for the tour. After a briefing by the ranger, we convoyed our cars to the Minuteman Missile Launch Control facility. The group was divided into three groups of six – each group had its own ranger. Our group's ranger was the same ranger we met at the silo earlier in the day – Kerry.
Kerry led us through the above ground building first, marveling us with old military stories. He was stationed there when he was in the Air Force and later was involved in the START treaty. Now he's a tour guide. He reminded me of the typical gung-ho military guy. He often talked in military speak which managed to confuse the Wife at least once. When it was our turn we all got in the elevator and went down to the control room where we heard more rather inane stories. I would have preferred more history and less anecdotes but it was interesting enough. Pictures of the Minute Man facility are here.
After the tour, we headed to Custer, SD. Along the way the rain got stronger. I was getting a little gloomy when, as we got closer to Custer, the rain stopped and the sun tried mightily to shine through the clouds. We took advantage of the brief break in the weather to visit the Crazy Horse memorial. The only thing completed is the face - a little disappointing though the face is very well done. As I watched a movie about the carving, I wonder if it will ever be finished. Early on only one person, Korczak Ziolkowski, worked on the sculpture. Today there are seven people working, all children of the original sculptor. It's a family affair and only a family affair. They don't seem to want outside help. I wonder, for such a magnificent memorial to Native Americans, where are the Native American assistance? Are they not trying to help or is the Ziolkowski family not accepting any help? Lot's of questions. Pictures are here.
We spent the rainy night in Custer.