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April travels

People can call me crazy but the fun I had exploring the least populated areas of the US of A, was exhilarating. The grasslands in particular were spectacular. They might have been very (very very very…) vast but there was something mystical about them. Each time I would look outside the car in Nebraska, there would be a “wow” from my mouth uttered involuntarily.

Priyendra suggested this idea to drive to Mount Rushmore from Denver. I was thinking of New Mexico this month (April) but the idea of seeing 4 states in one trip appealed to me more than just one state.
We started our journey on the 27th of April. We spent the night in Denver. Next day morning after having a hearty (free ) breakfast at the hotel, we drove towards Cheyenne Wyoming. Cheyenne is the capital of WY but believe me, it just went by. WY is the second least populated state in the US after Alaska. We stopped at this big town of WY called Lusk (1400 population) where we decided to have lunch. Deeksha yelped for restaurants and found one highly rated place called “The Pizza Place”. I think it was rated by everyone who stopped by Lusk while traveling to Rushmore. The Pizza was hand tossed and genuinely worth 4 stars. And that was the end of east Wyoming for us :)

We entered South Dakota and trust me there were a tons of things to do in the Mount Rushmore/ Custer State Park area. We went to the Wind Caves which was one of the longest caves in America stretching to about 163 miles. It was a very different kind of cave since it was more like a 3D cave. We could go down some 300 steps to the second level of the cave. The cave was famous for its boxwork on the roof. Some 95% of the boxwork roof was found here in the wind caves. After taking a tour of the wind caves, we proceeded to drive through the Needles Highway. Now this was one of the very beautiful drives. Needles Highway (SD Highway 87 between Sylvan Lake and Legion Lake ) is located in Custer State Park in the Black Hills area. The 14-mile scenic highway winds through pine forest under a vista of granite spires called “the Needles.” The route snakes through several small granite tunnels. This was worth the 1.5 hours we spent here. We were supposed to do a hike called the cathedral spires hike but since it was flurrying, we could not go for one.

After this drive, we started towards the final aim “Mount Rushmore”. We reached the town of Mount Rushmore at 8 and all the restaurants close at 8 so we had to hurry up to get food. Without checking in into our hotel, we went to eat at the hotel called Ruby House Restaurant. I knew it would definitely offer some bread if there were no vegetarian options. The restaurant was kind enough to accommodate 4 people at the time of closing. We ordered our food after much discussion over what I like and what I should eat.
Priyendra thinks that I do not like spaghetti and I would prefer a bean burger over it. I was not keen on having a bean burger but Priyendra was twaddling that “AJ tumhara toh kat gaya:)
After dinner we went to see the well lit nigh view of the Mount Rushmore. It was good.

Next day morning again after a hearty (free) breakfast at the hotel, we went to Mount Rushmore memorial again. This time we decided to take the audio tour. One suggestion would be to avoid it :) It was long and spoke only about Gutzon Borglum and his family. He was the artist and sculptor behind the historical monument.

From there on, we moved into Nebraska driving though the Oglala grasslands of Nebraska. They were genuinely beautiful and till horizon one could see the grass. Eastern Nebraska does not seem to be very popular and is very thinly populated as well. The road from Nebraska to Colorado was a straight road and and for miles we could see the road ahead of us. We did take a take out pizza from Dominos in Scottsbluff (may be one of the only Dominos in Eastern Nebraska). We were to travel via Alliance and see the carhenge there but since we were short on time, we planned to take the faster route.
<br/>We managed to reach Denver a little ahead of our schedule and had enough time to try out the best ice-cream in town.
After a sweet ending to our trip, we started with our journey to SF: dropped our GMC, took a shuttle to the airport and discussed about the weirdness of the Denver airport.

Our route for the trip was:

View Larger Map

To check out the pictures, click here.