I woke up, and once again, there were overcast skies with a chance of rain. I am in South Dakota, right? Not Washington or Oregon? This was a wet Spring and it appears the dreary weather was going to follow me the whole way.
Today was going to be spent around Rapid City before heading further East into South Dakota where I would spend a night in Mitchell near the Minnesota border. The weather was not going to be cooperative and temperatures were going to be cool. Cold and wet were the two things I didn't go well with but none the less I had stayed here to visit these places and refused to let Mother Nature ruin another one of my plans.
Still feeling bummed over the loss in Montana, I geared up for the drive and visits around Rapid City. Aria and I did our final walk before I packed up the car and headed out to visit The Chapel In The Hill. This chapel was located on the outskirts of Rapid City in a residential town and while on route to it had to keep checking the GPS to be sure I was going in the right direction. It seemed odd to have a tourist attraction in such a nice neighborhood but after a turn here and there, the gated entrance was found and up ahead was the chapel.
There was no fee to visit the Chapel it relied on donations and was operated by volunteers. Since the rain had started to fall and the wind picked up, the volunteers were trying to keep warm in the souvenir shop near the entrance. Here I found a map of the area as well as a donation booth. The volunteer, an older gentleman, came out and gave me some information about the Chapel.
Chapel in the Hill was a replica of a Norwegian Church in its home country. Settlers from Norwegian found themselves here and decided to build a Lutheran Norwegian Church. It was an exact replica of the famous Borgund Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway that was built in 1150. A short walk up to the chapel and the details of it were astounding, there was a sense of peace the closer I got to it. There were three ways to enter the Chapel and once inside there was a pulpit in the front, pews, and an organ. The background was filled with a recording that talked about the history of the building.
Just off of the pulpit, there was a small room with a sliding window that resembled a confessional only there was just one entrance. The recording went on to say that this was used for those who were diagnosed with Leprosy and the sliding window was used to give them communion.
The recording was low, almost a whisper, and with the soothing tone echoing slightly throughout the chapel which was never referred to by the religion but a place of spiritual healing. Spiritual healing, acceptance, and forgiveness were experienced here and the energy flowed freely and calmly. Even as I stood there I felt myself being opened to receive new things.
I walked out of the Chapel and took more pictures. The rain had begun to fall a little more and the path called the Prayer Walk could be seen in the distance.
This was an uneven path that could be hiked up into the hills with statues and benches along the way. I turned onto the path and noticed a bunny sitting in the middle of it a short distance ahead. It looked to me and then hopped passed me down the path. I stood there, took a few photos and walked a short distance up it. More peace and solidarity could be felt here and as I stood there giving myself a moment of pause the rain began to fall harder as if in response was cleansing me of all negativity, doubt, and fear.
As I turned to go back at the bottom of the path there was the rabbit. It looked back at me and hopped a few times before turning back to see that I was following as if I was being guided out it took me back to the chapel before it hopped off to the side to let me pass. Once I was back on the concrete I looked back only to see that the rabbit was gone.
Just passed the gift shop there was another building that was a replica of the types of homes that were lived in when first settling into the area. There were two statues, carved out of wood, that stood near the entrance and were giving me pause.
Flashes of the 1880 museum came rushing back to me, I took a deep breath, calmed my energy and walked in only to find more creepy looking mannequins inside. Once again, the feeling of not being alone and the change of energy filled my body. A part of me does not want to turn my back on those mannequins and what is it about those eyes? I took my photos and quickly left.
As I walked away and back towards the car there was a voice in my head that was telling me to look back, just one more time, look back. I refused to do so I needed to be focused on my driving and the trip ahead and not about what was going on behind me. I thanked the volunteers for their time and information before I got back in and headed out to the Black Hills.
It was time to see another historical site and this would be Mount Rushmore. Another point of interest near Rapid City and one that I had been to years ago. Except at that time, we weren't able to see it because of the fog that had rolled in.
Down in Rapid City it was raining but the further up I went the heavier the ran got and the lower the clouds came. I wasn't sure how close I was to the monument and how well the weather was going to turn out and all it took was one turn and I was in snow. This wasn't light snow either, it was wet and heavy but hadn't started to stick. The further up I went the more it began to stick. There was a small town called Keystone located before the final climb to the monument. It was a cute town that was currently quiet but no doubt saw a lot of tourists when weather permitted, there were a few hotels in the area with a lot of tourist shops that lined the main roads. A sharp turn took me out of the town and up towards Mount Rushmore where a sign was posted that said North by Northwest and National Treasure was shot here.
A mile or two later there was another sign that said historical marker ahead. Well, that got my curiosity going, historical marker, pull off? Maybe I could get some shots of the Black Hills because visibility was beginning to drop and according to the GPS I still had a few more miles to go and it was all uphill Another slight turn had me seeing the pull off and a glance up had me looking dead on at Mount Rushmore. Wait, what?!?
Stop the presses, your telling me a National Monument, that was marked about a mile back as just a regular historical marker, can be seen from the main road? I don't have to pay to go in to see it? Interesting. I pulled over to the side and got out to take photos and was able to see the entire monument from this pull off. Several other cars had done the same and the photos were quickly snapped as the clouds were teasing about whether they would block them completely or just for a moment.
TV and movies did a great job of magnifying the size. From their shots, this looked to be massive and huge but from where I stood they didn't seem big at all. Now I had to find a place to turn around. I continued the drive up, found the entrance but no place to turn around, there were a few more pull-offs that allowed me different angles for shots but still not a good place for a turnaround.
I pressed on and saw a sign that said profile view ahead. Profile view?
It was then that I saw a huge pull off that would allow me to make a safe u-turn and head back down the mountain towards Rapid City. I pulled in and as I was making my turn around something caught my eye and the clouds moved away long enough for me to see Washington's Profile. The clouds were working with me and I was able to get a few shots before they closed in and made him disappear altogether.
The drive down was more challenging than the drive up as this time gravity was pushing me down faster than I wanted to go and once again the brakes were getting a workout.
Slush and ice had built up which caused a few fishtails and I was once again dealing with a large truck next to me. I made it down safely and it was in a matter of a turn here and there that roads went from ice to snow to wet.
Rapid City had only seen rain and by the time I got back down the rain had slowed and roads were beginning to dry. It was time to leave the city and get on to Mitchell, South Dakota. However, there was one more stop I had to do before I got there.
Driving across country can bring about some interesting situations. Broken down on a day by day basis enjoy my adventures and set backs along the way to some beautiful destinations.