After six hours of sleep last night, I woke up feeling renewed and excited for a new day. Same as the other days, I got ready in a rush and ate breakfast with the rest of the group. We received our car assignments and headed towards a nearby Starbucks. Among all the things we came across in Casper, Wyoming, the Starbucks was the best. In other words, Casper was not the most thriving of towns. As soon as we got our coffee and gas for the cars, we left the town.
The drive out of Wyoming was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Living in West Virginia, I thought I knew what the word “wilderness” defined. Today, however, as we drove through miles and miles of flat land void of any landmarks, the word was redefined. For at least two hours, we came across nothing but cows and ranches. Around three and a half hours, we came upon civilization in South Dakota.
Mount Rushmore was our first destination of the day. As we drove up the hill, we all commented on how the sculptures looked rather small. Unlike the beautiful Rocky Mountains yesterday, the scenery did not suddenly shock us. However, the meticulous details of Mount Rushmore became apparent as we parked and walked closer to it. Personally, I felt a sense of patriotism as I looked at the faces. It truly is remarkable that these men were rewarded with something so grand for creating the nation we live in today. We gathered in a small theater for a fourteen minute video concerning the creation of the monument. I learned that the majority of the carving was created through the use of dynamite. After watching the video, we stopped at the gift shop and headed out for lunch at a little quaint cafe. I think I had one of the best sandwiches I have ever had here. I was also VERY hungry at this point.
I was already enjoying my day, but it was about to get a LOT better. We hopped back into our suburbans for our second drive through the wilderness. This would lead us to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. We were all beginning to feel exhausted at this point, but something very small grabbed all of our attentions: a prairie dog. Being in a car with six females, you can only imagine the squeals of excitement and joy being caused by these tiny, fluffy, chubby creatures. Our shrills only got louder as we looked ahead and saw something even better: MORE PRAIRE DOGS. I had never seen a praire dog in the wild before, but now I was seeing at least fifteen of them directly in front of me. Everyone was wide awake after this, ready for the small hike ahead of us.
We arrived at the hiking trail at Devil’s Tower. The massiveness of the rock structure is unexplainable. It also appears to be somewhat striped down the sides, as if someone had carved portions of the rock out. As we walked along the trail circling the mountain, we noticed some brave soul rock climbing up the tower. All of us were having a great time on this hike; the trail was not difficult, so we were able to talk and laugh the entire time. As stated yesterday, we all got along very well.
Our walk was coming to a close when Mr. Northup told us that he wanted to climb onto some rocks at the bottom of the Tower for a picture. We all took off our hiking bags and jumped, climbed, and crawled across a massive pile of boulders. This was exhausting, but by far my favorite part of the day. We went out a small ways for the picture, but all of us wanted to go further. We teenagers begged our chaperones to let us climb further; seeing how much fun we were having, they agreed with Mr. Northup even joining us. All of us eventually made it to the absolute furthest point we were permitted to go. We hung out here for a little bit, perhaps slightly proud of all the boulders we had trekked over. When I arrived back on the trail, sweaty and exhausted, I drink practically my entire 32 ounce bottle of water in what seemed like three seconds flat.
After our adventure, we arrived back in the parking lot to assemble, you guessed it, back into our suburbans. I will finish my post today as I have the other days: sitting in the car, tired and very happy with how the day has turned out. We are heading towards a restaurant for dinner, and then to our hotel to swim and sleep before another big day tomorrow.