This post continues from Part 1, which can be found here if you haven't read it yet.
After a night's rest at a hotel, we moved on to Mt. Rushmore and Devils Tower. The last time James and I took this road trip, it was over a Thanksgiving week, so a lot of the extra trails and attractions at these locations were closed. We just barely squeaked in to the end of the season this time around, so all of the Mt. Rushmore trails were open. It allowed us to get some great pictures from vantage points that were inaccessible a few years ago. Mt. Rushmore is incredible to see, and thanks to the visitor center being open this time, I learned that it was originally going to show the presidents from the waist up, but only the heads were completed due to budget cuts. You can kind of see the start to George Washington's shoulders before it was abandoned and called "complete."
After leaving Mt. Rushmore, we made a quick stop for some road food - Jim had the delight of eating his first Twinkie, and I surprisingly found a can of Surge. South Dakota, people. That's where they're hiding it. After refueling, we continued into Wyoming to Devils Tower. Now, I am a proud member of the Grammar Police, and Devils Tower should of course read Devil's Tower, but due to it being originally named by someone who is not a member of the Grammar Police, the apostrophe was left out. Devils tower is the US's first National Monument, and it was also featured in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Pictures and video do not do it justice, even professional ones in books and on postcards. It is truly something that needs to be experienced in person. It is an extremely sacred site to the local Native American tribes and there are offerings and prayer cloths tied among the trees. There is a trail around the perimeter of the site that allows for some beautiful photos, and experienced climbers can also scale the sides of the Tower. To me, visiting this site is worth the trip alone. Just in this park, we were able to see prairie dogs, wild turkeys, and deer, not to mention the great views.
Devils Tower was the turnaround point of the trip. After that, we began to head south into Colorado and stopped just shy of its border for the night in Cheyenne. In the morning, we headed to a local restaurant called Luxury Diner, which has been in business at that location since 1926. They originally served their food out of a trolley car in the late 1800's, which has since had walls built around it, making it enclosed and part of their expanded restaurant. I thought Texas portions were big... this place had the largest short stack of pancakes and the biggest cinnamon roll I have ever seen in my life. And it was soooo good. I ended up getting the tiramisu French toast and I don't even like tiramisu. It just looked that good. And you know what? I wasn't disappointed. It was delicious! It was the perfect example of American diner chow for Jim to experience. Props to you, Luxury Diner.
Our very last stop before arriving in Houston again was the Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, Texas. I'm not sure what I was expecting to see here, as I had done no research ahead of time to see what it was. I just figured it would be similar to Carhenge. And it was, a bit. There was just one major difference - a very colorful one. This particular piece of car art is encouraged by its creators to be graffiti'd on and covered in spray paint. Layers upon layers of it. It is a set of ten old Cadillacs that are buried nose-first into the dirt and then left to sit and be painted on by visitors of all types. It is surrounded by a field of sorghum and is only a small pull-off from the main highway. There is roadside parking and no visitor area or gift shop. Just abandoned cans of still-full paint that you are free to pick up and tag at will. And what does spray paint attract? Bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. So be prepared to walk through clouds of them!
Our trip was a whirlwind, but it was awesome and worth every mile. We had no hiccups from the rental car, and the weather was beautiful. If anyone it interested in trying this trip out for themselves, I highly recommend it. Now it is time for James and I to plan for our upcoming trip to Japan and Hong Kong!
Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm a car nut, bird lover, and musician. I have recently transitioned from music teacher to automotive service manager, and there have been lots of cool stories and crazy characters along the way!