Sunday, July 14, 2013


Last weekend was my 30th class reunion in Mitchell NE. We decided earlier in the year it might make a nice road trip. Leaving mid week we loaded up the corvette, made sure Matty was set up and headed out. The first leg of the trip we stopped off and spent some time with Andy and Kim, it was a surprise drop in and we had a nice evening with them, I hope they enjoyed it as much as Tania and I did. We left their house late in the evening and stopped for the night in Des Moines IA at 3am. A few hours sleep, a quick shower and something to eat, we were back on the road by 9am. Nothing much beyond stopping to see an old friend in Ogallala we arrived at my dads in Gering NE around 7pm that night.

Friday was the mixer at the Mitchell golf course, Mitchell hasn't changed much in size and pretty much looks the same. I did have a very good time, both with people I hadn't seen in years and the time I got to spend with my dad. The second we spent the morning at the Oregon Trail Days Parade in Gering and that evening for class reunion part 2, we had food catered to the sand pits just outside of town along the Platte River. It was a great place to spend the evening.

 On the chance that anyone involved in organizing the weekend reads this I would like to thank them for doing a very thankless task.

Sunday I was able to spend most of the day with my dad and some friends. The corvette had a small issue with the right front tire leaking air and even in the big city of Scottsbluff I was unable to find a tire repair place open on a Sunday. We decided to wait until Monday to drive on to Rapid City so we could have the tire looked at. Monday morning I found a place that took it off and told me it had "sand" in the bead that was causing it to leak. They put it back together and we headed off to Rapid City just before 11am.

The drive to Rapid City had one moment of excitement 40 miles in when a Highway Patrolman wanted to talk to me about how fast my car was. This was the first time I had ever gotten pulled over and didn't care one way or another if I got a ticket, I wasn't going to let it ruin may vacation. I was more upset of it ruining my spotless record of 2.5 years 25k miles without being pulled over in the corvette. After thinking about it more it had been 14-15 years since my last ticket. I got a warning for going 71 in a 65 and the world became a safer place for everyone.

We arrived in Rapid City around 7pm, made our fourth trip of the week to Taco Johns and set out to find Tania's parents house. The following morning Tania's dad played tour guide and we headed into the Black Hills. I was looking forward to this, I had not been in this area since I was a child.

Our first stop was at the Chapel in the Hills, an exact replica of the Borgund stave church in Norway. The Borgund stavkirke was built around the year 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway. The Norwegian Department of Antiquities provided a set of blueprints of the Borgund church to be used in the construction of the Chapel in the Hills which was built in 1969.

We were told the trees were selected the bark stripped and left for two years before they were cut down. The Chapel is quite small, maybe room for 20 inside and is used regularly for weddings.

Our next stop was Crazy Horse, the last time I was in the Black Hills there was basically nothing to see so we didn't even go.

Now almost 40 years later there is a face!

The problem is, aside from any special tours that they probably have this is as close as you can get. Because Tania has a fairly decent camera I was able to get some close in shots.

This shows some good detail to the amount of drilling for charge placement.

Here you can see the faint outline of the horses head.

Even though there isn't much of the mountain to see, it was worth the trip there is a lot of other things to see in the museum. I won't go into detail about the place its easy enough to look up on the internet and I wouldn't do the story behind it justice. It is worth looking up though its an interesting story.

After eating lunch at the restaurant at Crazy Horse we drove further up into the hills and into Custer State Park. Dale took us past some of the camp sites he helps set up for Sturgis Bike Week and along the way we passed by Sylvan Lake.

We then drove up through the Needles on our way to Mount Rushmore.

Because we didn't take the highway there we had miles of great views.

Last stop of the day was Mt Rushmore. It is much smaller in scale than Crazy Horse but you are literally a couple hundred yards away versus a mile or more.

The following day we went on through Sturgis, Lead and Deadwood, the only pictures I took with the camera were of a gold mine in Lead.

My understanding is this closed in the late 80's early 90's after 100 years of operation. It is sad that there is no requirement to return the land to some usefulness. Even a quarry lake would look better than this.

We spent some time gambling in Deadwood and the old folks started getting tired so we headed back.

Tania and I left the following day my only regret being that I spent two days on some of the most incredible roads I had seen in a long time.... in a minivan.... while my car sat in their driveway. To add insult to injury as we left Rapid City on I-90 we got to watch a convoy of 200+ corvettes headed to the Black Hills Classic. This group stretched out for over 150 miles.

Thanks to Tania driving a lot of the route home we left Rapid City at around 10:30am and were home by 5am the following morning. Aside from the small problem with the leaky tire the corvette performed flawlessly. All fuel burns were at 30+ mpg except for one. I had to make a conference call so I had Tania drive, after it was over 1.5 hours later I started to relax on the passenger side but something didn't seem right. After looking around the car I noticed she had it in fifth gear and it had been there since she had started driving, that tank was 28.7mpg.

It really was a great trip we had a lot of time and no real time table which made it much more relaxing. We are both looking forward to doing something similar again.

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