Thursday, August 6, 2009

How much?

Day 39: August 4, 2009 - Sturgis, SD and surrounding Black Hills Area
No Thank You.
We woke up this morning unaware of how often we would be asking a cashier "how much?" and coming to the conclusion "no thank you." It is difficult to spend over a month on the road and come out with an abundance of, $9 for mini-golf appears to be a small fortune, paying $10 to park and walk up to Mt. Rushmore when you can see it from the road seems to be the same as paying an arm and a leg, and $10 just to drive on the Needles Highway seems way out of line. Not to mention the $23 per person price tag on touring a cave - it's good South Dakota, and more accurately, the Black Hills have plenty to offer in scenery for the low-budget travellers that we are.
We enjoyed breakfast burritos with Melissa's parents in Sturgis before slowly gathering ourselves and a sandwich lunch for the road. The plan was to visit Mt. Rushmore then drive the Norbeck Senic Highway, detour to Wind Cave National Park, get back on the Scenic route and drive the Needles Highway until we made our way to Sturgis. Little did we know how often we would be required to pay.
After driving through Keystone, SD we entered the National Memorial just to discover that our "America the Beautiful" pass wasn't good here and we'd have to pay $10 to park and go see all that Mt. Rushmore has to offer (which both of us have seen previously) and which can be equally well seen from the road - so we tood the road views, snapped this shot and made our way through the Norbeck Scenic Byway.

Hairpin curves, one-way bridges and tunnels and beautiful landscapes set all around us, we took one of the best scenic drives our trip has yet offered us. We enjoyed the familiar site of pine trees, the rolling plains interspersed with spectacular forest scenes. The entire day, we shared the road with motorcycles and the occassional deer and bighorn sheep.

A few sharp curves later we were pulling into Wind Cave National Park where we learned a great deal about the cave itself in the Visitor Center exhibit however we had arrived too late and were too cheap to go on any of the tours. Back in the car, we enjoyed sandwiches and made our way back toward Needles Highway. Because the highway goes through a State Park we were required to pay a small fee to drive through - knowing that we would often be visiting the Allen Parent's in South Dakota, we decided this small fee could wait and we would just hit the road toward Sturgis, SD.

At home, we enjoyed a grilled dinner, more internet usage, some television watching and the same comfortable bed as the night before. How much? Free. Yes Please!

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