Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bumpin, Buglin, Mangy and Crazy

Three day weekend! I don't get many of those, so I like to make them count. This one over the 4th of July holiday weekend was great!  It started off with the huge parade that is part of the Black Hills Roundup celebration in Belle Fourche. It's fun to see all the class reunion floats, the dignitaries, bands...including a bagpipe group and even a couple of banjo players this year...and a lot of cool old cars. But even more fun for me than the parade itself is observing the people who line the streets to view this once a year extravaganza.
No matter what is going on in the parade, there's always someone watching the parade who is just as interesting.  Like this guy -
"Goonies Forever."  Classic.

Then it was off to the Black Hills. There's nothing like the Black Hills of South Dakota in summer. Any season really, but especially summer for me. We would be staying at a campground in Hill City, and no trip to Hill City is complete without a stop at the Bumpin' Buffalo. It's across the street from the Mangy Moose, which also looks like a fun place, but the rooftop patio at the BB is pretty cool. It's even better when there's a hard rain beating out a rhythm on the tin roof. It made for a very pleasant evening, which included us and a couple of friends around the campfire after the rain stopped; talking about the events of the day and plans for tomorrow.
We enjoyed a nice bicycle ride Saturday morning under a bright sunny sky that was so blue it was almost purple -

In the afternoon we traveled on to Custer to see what all the excitement was about regarding a popular burger joint. And, by popular, I mean lines out the door and around the corner. No way we were going to wait in a line like that to get in to what looked like a very small and unexceptional cafe. Good thing we didn't wait, because we found another place close by called the Buglin' Bull (what's with these names?) that also had rooftop seating ... and the best nachos I've had in quiet a long time.  
We decided we would visit the Crazy Horse Memorial that night and see the laser light show. We had heard mixed reviews about it, but had never been there ourselves so we decided it was time. I have always been suspicious of this place and my visit confirmed my suspicions. I was extremely disappointed. The laser show appeared to be very low tech, something that you may have seen in 1995. The first image projected onto the mountain at the beginning of the show was...wait for it...a logo for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco. Other corporate sponsors followed.  "This program to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians is brought to you by EconoLodge."
Okay, I know they need money to keep the memorial open, but I believe they've gone too far. Other examples of the excess in solicitations are the donation boxes everywhere and the raffle ticket displays in the main exhibit halls.

And as far as their proud claim of not accepting any federal or state government funding, could it be that it's because then they would have to finish it? That would mean the donation angle would be diminished and they would be forced to depend on admission ticket sales for their income. There has been very little progress made in the last decade. I would think that a project begun 65 years ago would be completed by now.  Mount Rushmore was carved in less than 15 years.  And that was over 70 years ago.  Construction methods, tools and technology have greatly improved since then. It simply shouldn't take this long.
Despite the fact that it is not anywhere near being completed it still is a beautiful sight to view at night when the mountain is bathed in light. 

And even though the museum and cultural center is not much larger than the gift shop, it is very interesting to see the artifacts and historical photos, as well as the Native American and Western art.
But, as far as the sculpture itself on the big mountain in the heart of the Black Hills - get to work and finish it! 

Roger O'Dea     07/08/2014

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