Yellowstone, South Dakota and Mount Rushmore

Yellowstone National Park on a warm and sunny day – beautiful!050033 034 035 043 039 041 061Arriving at Gardiner, the village at the North entrance of Yellowstone, Alfie and I snoozed in the car for 5 hours before seeking coffee and a leg-stretch.

 

The man running the coffee shop immediately enthused about Alfie.

 

Time and time again, people remark on how well-behaved, loyal and attractive Alfie is. He is a brilliant travelling companion.

 

Coincidentally, it was ‘National Park Week’ so the $30 fee was waved as we went into the Park, meeting the charming Park Ranger who was very reticent about me taking her photo.

 

The first thing we saw were the bisons – big lumbering beautiful creatures that they are. My first photo shows the bison that passed right next to my car, leading his family.

 

Next were the elks – that resemble awkward larger deer.

 

We also saw deer.

 

040059Animal-wise, we also saw birds of prey and blue birds but no bears, wolves or mountain lions.

 

The place is really beautiful and big. We covered around 60 miles in all, visiting the gesers, the springs and the snow – Alfie loves the snow!

 

037036 038Craig had told me about the hot spring by the side of the river as you go through the North gate, so I visited it.

 

The water that ran into the river was boiling – literally as hot as a kettle, so picking my water in, trying to find a balance between the ice cold river and the very hot flowing spring waters was interesting!

 

Finding a sweet spot, I lay in the water and chatted to a lovely couple who were also visiting the spring. It is very popular.

 

After a soak in the sulphuric waters I felt rejuventated.

 

Alfie and I went to the central square while I had a coffee and Alfie played with some children.

 

044045 046 048 049 053 054 055 060The pictures show the beauty of Yellowstone.

 

I decided to throw a stick for Alfie in a shallow stream and he was enjoying it when a ranger arrived and told me to put Alfie back on the lead.

 

A couple of the women at the picnic area, with disapproving looks, said he could have been attacked by a bear or a mountain lion…. oops. Didn’t see either animal…

 

At 3 p.m. Alfie and I set off on the long drive into South Dakota via Montana and Wyoming and a truly beautiful sunset, sadly impossible to capture on my camera.

 

On the motorway were signs to General Custer and the battle of Little Big Horn.

 

Alfie and I left the motorway at 1 a.m. and slept in a sweet little village called Whitewood overnight, parked at the church.

 

Awaking at 8 a.m. we had a little stroll and then found the diner I had seen on the way into the village.

 

As I walked in all eyes fell on us. It was full of people older than me…. possibly tempted by the ‘60+’ menu. There were 2 men sitting on a table by the counter and we fell into conversation.

 

062 063 064 066 067 068 069Bob Johnson, 90 this year, is a delightful man – and before he left he surreptitiously paid for my breakfast, without telling me.

 

Garry is a cowboy and good friend of Bob. He tried to persuade me to stay a day and offered me a room in his house – instead, I said I would be happy to go to Deadwood with him but that I had to be in Chicago by Friday afternoon.

 

I had a lovely breakfast of eggs over easy, bacon, potato waffle and maple syrup.

The coffee was sadly weak – the diners seem to produce this limitless, almost tasteless coffee that is invariably weak and I like strong coffee.

 

Having said that, the people in the diner were lovely.

 

I followed Garry’s car to Deadwood – on the way we stopped at Kevin Costner’s ranch that he has just sold – Dances with Wolves was filmed around this area.

 

104 117 118 114On a nearby hill there are the remains of a set associated with the film.

 

071 072 073 075 076 077 079 080At Deadwood we enjoyed walking around, having a coffee and experiencing a town so associated with the gold rush, Wild Bill Hickok and rodeos.

 

083 084 087Saying goodbye to Garry I headed to Pactola Lake and Alfie played fetch with a stick for a while. The sky was, as so often on this journey, an azure blue and the sun shone brightly all day.

 

We then went on to the Crazy Horse sculpture which is still in progress.

 

Mount Rushmore is one of those places that you almost believe you have seen because it is such an icon. Driving in, there is a nod to its role in an Alfred Hitchcock film. It was great to see it in real life.

 

I was making my way to Chicago via Minneapolis – having heard of the sad demise of Prince, determined to pay my respects.

 

As Alfie and I drove along the highways the sunset was beautiful yet again.

 

Once again, I found myself in wide open range country – and mercifully not much traffic.

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