Downtown Keystone SD
The 2017 Great American Escape
KEYSTONE, SOUTH DAKOTA
U.S. 16, the road from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore, is studded with tourist kitsch of every ilk and description. Reptile Gardens. The Dinosaur Museum. Bear Country USA. A wax museum. Miniature golf. You can just hear the kids in the cars yelling “Mom! Dad! Pleeeeeease??”
But that’s nothing compared to the raucous assortment of rock shops, souvenir emporia, tchotchke mongers and cafés lining the main drag in Keystone, two miles from the famous faces carved in stone. As a result of the association of Theodore Roosevelt with the monument, it seemed that about half the commercial establishments contain “Teddy’s” somewhere in their names.
We picked out a likely looking café for dinner; the food was quite good, but the accommodations lacking. Perhaps I should have been tipped off by the middle school sensibility of the rest room signs that read “Pointers” and “Squatters.” So call me dense and clueless. Guilty as charged.
We had three choices of seating: Perched on high tops on the main floor, up a steep flight of stairs to normal tables, or outdoors. As we are no longer able to comfortably climb either stairs or chairs, we ended up eating out on the patio. With the sun beating down on us. In 95 degree heat. With flies landing on our food every two minutes. Psssstt! Ever heard of a little thing called the ADA? It’s a really lovely law that we have in our country to protect those of us with disabilities, and I believe South Dakota is still part of the Union. Well, last time I checked, anyway. Um, should I have brought my passport?
My wife has about had it with my griping, and I can’t say I blame her a bit. My generally poor attitude has been exacerbated by my own stupidity in bringing along only one pair of shoes, a pair that, as luck would have it, offer no support whatsoever and are painful to walk in for even the shortest distance.
Happily, my sour disposition took an about face as we drove up the mountain, rounded a curve… and suddenly, somehow unexpectedly, there it was in all its glory, Mount Rushmore and its famous presidential faces. We came upon it all at once, unprepared even, and joined two other cars in pulling off the road to gawk, mouths hanging agape in awe and amazement. The only experience I can compare this to is stepping out of Paris’ Trocadéro métro station to find the Eiffel Tower right in front of me.
Let’s just say that no photo of Mount Rushmore you have ever seen can begin to compare to the view in person. I now understand why people from every corner of the earth have this site on their bucket lists.
As the sun was rapidly setting and we had done a long day’s drive to get here, we will return to the monument in the morning to visit it properly.
More to follow.