|This is more an example of the hills, not the awful tourist attractions|
After lunching in a turnout with a good view of Washington’s profile we continued through the Black Hills.
Unexpected delight for the day was a little detour west of Custer to Jewel Cave National Monument. Seeing it on the map I had no idea what it was, but nationally significant caves sounded like a good gamble. It turned out that it’s the second longest (not second largest) cave network in the world – so far they have found almost 250 km of caves & think that is only five to ten percent of the extent of it. Unfortunately we were half an hour late for a more extensive tour (I would have gladly given up time at Crazy Horse had I known), but got to get a small peak inside. From the Visitor Center we took an elevator (nuts, I know) two hundred feet down to what was a big cavern, but only a very small part of the system. Mapping has been going on for over forty years & is still going.
|A small part of the worthless jewels that give the caves their name|
We’re now in Nebraska after passing through south South Dakota & Wind Cave National Park (more bison roaming the grasslands). Nebraska started out much as I expected – flat. Not dead flat, but flat compared to the last few days. We just paid more than four dollars for gas for the first time & then continuing south we passed through some nice little hills; now it’s flat again & Valerie just spotted the first center pivot irrigator for some time. In this evening light, it’s looking very nice. The sandstone buildings in Hot Springs were nice too as we drove through.
Also, it seems that we are back in the land of the coal train. We passed four really long trains in about five minutes. One was 1.8 km long & another had 119 wagons. They looked pretty good in the setting sun, as far as coal trains go.
Alliance - the smallest town we've been to yet. The highlight so far (likely to remain so) has been Carhenge. I've heard of the Cadallic Ranch down south further, but never of this place. Simply there's a whole lot of old car bodies painted stone colour & arranged in the ground & on top of each other to make a Stonehenge-esque arrangement. It was delightfully nutty.