(Photo above) Our unamused faces at Mount Rushmore on the 4th of July
–As Teddy Roosevelt always said: ‘Speak softly, but carry a large rock bar’.–
Work days in South Dakota quickly coming to an end, it was time for the much anticipated Rec trip which was to be a smorgasbord of all the activities the Black Hills has to offer. We planned to hit all of the big tourist destinations (yes, South Dakota has tourist destinations!): Harney Peak, Crazy Horse monument, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, and all of the not-so-big tourist destinations: The museum of wood carving, the museum of fur trade in Chadron, Nebraska, and the Reptile Garden of South Dakota. Although, if you’ve ever been to South Dakota, you will know that everyone in the area raves about the reptile gardens. In fact, it wasn’t nearly as hokey as its name might suggest, and I think the adults may have enjoyed ourselves more then the students. I don’t care who you are, there is always something thrilling about watching someone else risk his life in a pit of crocodiles.
I have to interject a quick story here: During one of our resupplies we stopped in the booming metropolis of Hot Springs, South Dakota. One of the boys hailed from the heart of New York City, whose population is something like 15x the entire state of South Dakota, found a few wolf t-shirts at the local drug store. You know the type; tie-dyed, wolves howling at moon, silhouetted against the side of a canyon, forlorn look in their eyes, typical small town wolf t-shirt. Without the slightest bit of hesitation he grabbed three of the choicest designs, purchased them, and the wolf pack was born. There three boys were never without their wolf t-shirts and were able to whip them out whenever the opportunity presented itself. Roger eventually bought himself a matching t-shirt and the wolf pack was complete.
The boys with their wolf shirts after gleefully discovering a ‘Wolf’ bus at Badlands National Park
Not to be outdone, us girls had some sweet tiger shirts of our own, and had bonded over listening non-stop to the two CD’s that we had purchased at a thrift store: ‘Nsync and Britney Spears. We became the Lady Tigers, with a kitty high five to round out the package.
The Lady Tiger-Wolf Pack rec trip was a roaring success, complete with an embarrassing moment at Mount Rushmore on the fourth of July. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday, America’, and, caught up in the moment, we joined in. We failed to realize that we joined in a verse too late and were soon singing a solo to the four presidents whose faces are embedded into the side of that mountain, and to about 10,000 other tourists. Nothing like a good healthy dose of public embarrassment to really round out the fourth of July festivities.
With heavy hearts we bade goodbye to Mike, our cowboy hat-wearing hero, and to Duane, the elk-chasing enigma, and to Mark and Joe, and many more Park employees whose hearts we undoubtedly warmed with our antics, and they certainly earned a place in our hearts and fond memories as well. So, to my Lady Tigers and Wolf Pack, I extend a very heartfelt thank-you for such a hilarious, fun, entertaining, and fulfilling three weeks. I’m proud of the hard work we put in, the challenges we overcame, and the spirit that we put into everything we did!
This picture accurately captures the spirit of the Wolf Pack and Lady Tigers. ‘Leaving Wind Cave National Park’