Part 7a in a 16-part stately series pictorially documenting the Sojourn.

Day before yesterday: Nebraska

I have decided to divide South Dakota into two parts since there’s so much to cover. Today will cover Wind Cave through Wall, while tomorrow will be the Badlands through Mitchell. Never been to South Dakota? It may be the most underrated state in the union.

This is a lot of America stuff for one sign:

Wind Cave National Park is actually one of the oldest, if more obscure. Here our intrepid tour guide on the Natural Entrance Tour demonstrates how fast the wind is coming out of said cave:

Wind Cave is famous for “boxwork” formations, which look like this:

I saw an old pirate skull in the cave!

Wind Cave is the largest source of boxwork in the world. It’s different than typical stalactite/stalagmite cave formations, but no less cool:

This ranger at the Wind Cave station was a great animated storyteller:

Buffalo!

We went for a hike in the Wind Cave area, looking for wildlife:

We found another cool rock formation instead:

The buffalo didn’t really show up in earnest till we crossed into Custer State Park:

Classic bison pose:

There was a herd:

Mother and child reunion:

Other large mammals:

Another buffalo herd – we saw well over a hundred buffalo in CSP:

A calf getting a snack:

These antelope looked for all the world like they’d leapt in from the African savannah:

This is pretty much funny only if you’ve visited the Taj Mahal. Emily’s simulating the motion that many tourists were making when posing for pictures in front of said Mahal. The problem is that I didn’t have time to take the shot from the correct angle because all these militantly patriotic people were looking at us like we were urinating on their vision of America. So we had to make it quick. In some ways, though, I think that makes this shot even funnier:

Not only did the world change on 9/11, but apparently so did Mt. Rushmore. There are all these new installations to deal with the increased patriotic traffic. But this Bush administration contribution was our favorite – naming Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus as one of his 4 (four) “National Highlights”:

This was my actual favorite part of Mt. Rushmore – evidence that its sculptor saw the project more as a memorial to a country that would someday be gone, not a swaggering announcement of American permanence. This statement contradicted so many of the other quotations about the carving, which stated that it showed America would last for a million years.

Wall Drug!

Wall Drug is like a big theme park dedicated to kitschy stores and the Old West. I absolutely love it. It purports to be “America’s Roadside Attraction”. I think its restaurant inspired (or helped inspire) the design of the Frontier in Albuquerque. Where else can you see a twenty-foot T-Rex that periodically rises up and roars with smoke and steam pouring through his nostrils?

Seven foot rabbit!

A riding jackalope!

Five-cent coffee! (Yes, they still sell it for a nickel a mug. I had several.)

Huge pterodactyl!

Tomorrow: More South Dakota!