Today was a fun day. We woke up in Cheyenne and drove four hours to Wind Cave in South Dakota. Some time last year, as we were preparing for this trip, Sunny and I bought a book on the National Parks. I’d read about Wind Cave — the Native American legends about the Cave, the way it was extensively mapped by Alvin McDonald in the 1890s — and I really wanted us to check it out. Only a handful of people are able to take the candlelight tour each day, so I was excited when I was able to secure us a reservation about a month ago. We toured the depths of the cave with candle buckets as our only source of light — just like it was the 1890s. Unfortunately, they don’t allow cameras and/or flash photography in the cave, so we didn’t get any pictures. But I spent most of the hike walking with Abby Kate, who rocked it like a champ! Sunny commented that this was one of the most adventurous things we’ve done together as a family and I would have to agree. Jackson especially loved it. Hannah, our tour guide, gave him a few special responsibilities and Jackson just ate it up. At one point, as Jackson took off climbing up one of the cave walls, Hannah said, “Boy, you’re like a little monkey, buddy!” Yes, welcome to my world, lady.
After leaving Wind Cave, we took a scenic drive through Custer State Park. Sunny took several pictures of prairie dogs and buffalo, but she’ll post those to her blog at a later date. It took us a couple of hours — with a few stops in between — but we eventually made it to Mount Rushmore just as the sun was setting. I was worried that we wouldn’t get many good pictures, but I think they turned out okay.
We decided to stay for the evening “lighting” of the monument, which was really cool. They had a special video presentation that highlighted the accomplishments of each of the four Presidents, followed by the lighting of the monument at dusk. A park ranger asked for all active duty and retired military to come to the stage for the lowering and removing of the flag. It was definitely a moving ceremony and a great way to end our day.