Monday, September 28, 2015

More about Santa Fe

Our time in Santa Fe is almost over. This sculpture that we saw outside of one of her many galleries truly expresses the nature of the city:  Joyous!

This bronze, which we saw at another gallery,  adds: Fun!

And of course we found the taste of New Mexico at the city Farmer's Market: chilis.

One of the many nice locals we met this week suggested that we drive up into the mountains to see the Aspen color.  He said not to go during the weekend because it would be crowded. So we waited until Monday.

The four images I am posting fall so short of the experience of driving through an area of Aspen peak color! 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

The trees were glowing in the sunshine against the brilliant blue sky.

The magnificent pines lent themselves as contrast to the brilliant yellow of the Aspen.

Even the grasses along the path echoed the color above.

But no image can really convey the full experience. The breeze played with the quaking aspen leaves in a magical way, and the faint scent of pine teased the senses, while a hint of coolness in the wind promised snow to come.  

It was a glorious afternoon, and we are so glad we got to experience this place high above Santa Fe.

When we got back to the Alfa, I finished making a special grilled ratatouille using some of the delicious veggies we bought at the Farmers Market. The key is to char the various ingredients, eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic, and squash, individually on the grill, and then combine them with seasonings before simmering them in a big pot on the stove top for a little while to combine the flavors. Perfection!

I served the ratatouille with a freshly baked baguettwe picked up at a charming French bakery on the way home, along with these tasty Raspberry Tarts for dessert.

RV life is very good!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Colorful Sculptures in Santa Fe

Friends who know me, or who have followed this blog for some time, know that when it comes to art I am attracted to large whimsical sculptures.  As an art major in college I fought for the validity of using animal images that make people smile. I remember having a disagreement with a sculpture teacher when I created a large fiberglass and resin frog. The basic armature was  folding lawn chair. The instructor was into abstracts and nudes, and I had to do a different project to fill the course requirements.  It was a good frog! My kids loved to climb on it in the yard for several years! In the long run, my work did take that direction, but it took me some time to get over that class and go my own way.

This week, as I checked into our current RV park, I picked up a flyer for the studio of artist, Fredrick Prescott. I knew we had to go see it! And on Tuesday afternoon we did.

Each of the large critters had a head that moved. You started the motion with a slight touch and the heads rocked back and forth for some time. The artist describes them as movable by the wind, but it would have to be a pretty strong one.

Craig's favorite was this very tall flamingo. Prices were not posted out in the sculpture garden area. We did see a sign on one large dragon that was for $27,000.  

Good thing they are too large to fit onto the dash of the Alfa!

The selection was delightful. They were all made of heavy steel and most were brightly colored. 

Some were the natural
rust tones of weathered steel.

In addition to the outdoor sculpture area, there was a large indoor gallery.  Many of the pieces here were much smaller, and of course less expensive.  

These two both moved nicely and were only $85 each. Still not what we need in the RV, but if we had a house, a work like these could easily find a new home.

The Prescott Studio, Gallery, & Sculpture Garden is located at:
1127 Siler Park Lane, Santa Fe, NM 87507

If you are in Santa Fe, call 505-44-8449 for gallery hours. His work will make you smile!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Just Checking In!

Sometimes, for me, the best way to let friends and family know where we are and what we are up to is through this blog. So I'm just checking in, so to speak.

First, my implant: it seems to be healing OK. I still have several days of antibiotics to go, and I no longer need the strong pain killer.  I think it will be fine.

Second, the Alfa is running wonderfully: we didn't have any problems, but it was time for the regular annual services. One note is that we pulled the same long incline from Phoenix to Flagstaff that had caused us such stress and overheating last spring, and even though it was 100° the temp gauge hardly moved above the normal range. We didn't have to do any manual downshifting either. Seems like the radiator cleaning was the correct thing to do!

Third, our location: we are now happily settled at a small commercial park, Rancheros de Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of the theories behind full time RVing is that if you don't like the weather, drive away from it!  We sure didn't like the 100°+ temperatures in Yuma or Phoenix, so we headed north. It is now mid-afternoon and we have the windows wide open. The shade side thermometer is reading 79°. Perfect in my mind. 

We love Santa Fe, so we may just stay put here until it is time to go down to Albuquerque for the Balloonfest. I have reservations at an Albuquerque park for the two days before the festival, so we can get the rig ready for nine days of dry camping. You know, holding tanks empty; fuel, water, and propane full.

We did have a bit of a stressful morning. I found what sounded like a nice state park just north of Santa Fe. It only had a few sites with electric, and all were first-come first-served. We got up really early and drove up here, but alas there were no openings and no one was planning on leaving. As we drove back out, I located the dump station and decided it would have been almost impossible to get the Alfa into it anyway.  Also there was absolutely zero cell service. No cell = no internet.  Not something we want to put up with for 9 days, even for a bargain price!

So we drove back down out of the mountain park, about eight winding miles, got to a spot where we could park and make some phone calls, and found this place.

I am more than ready to stay put for a week or so!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Another information post: Annual maintenance for a diesel Class A

So, after getting my dental work taken care of, we decided to take care of the Alfa's annual maintenance.

In the past years we have just had our annual service done, mentioned it in the blog and went on with life. Recently I've been participating in a Facebook group with a number of people planning on buying rigs who have asked about the difference in maintenance cost between a diesel motorhome and a gas motorhome. Someone else will have to provide information about the gas rig. 

We have a 2007, 35' Alfa Founder with a Cat C7 engine, with 49,000 miles on her. We don't do any of our own chassis maintenance, and have all recommended annual services done at Freightliner Oasis Centers. An Oasis Center is a Freightliner dealer that has a separate crew for motorhomes. The advantage is that you don't have to vie for time with commercial truckers. (They always take priority at non-Oasis Freightliner centers.)

We have our annual service done in fall, and always make an appointment in advance. Last year it was in Gaffney NC, this year it was in Tolleson AZ.

We pulled in Thursday afternoon and we given an overnight spot with full hookups. We were up and in the service advisor's office at 6:45 AM. The regular RV service advisor was off-site, so we had to deal with a substitute.

Because we went to an owner training class called Camp Freightliner and we have the owners' manual, we think we know what needs to be done. We had a checklist from the Freightliner web site, to which we made a few additions Thursday night. We went over our list with the service advisor -- can't remember whether we made any changes.

We went back to our coach and were surprised by a knock on our door a few minutes later. Our smart-looking young mechanic drove our rig into their service bays and we went to the customer lounge.

About 3 PM our service advisor said our coach was ready. 

We are members of the "Freightliner Chassis Owners Club (FCOC)" and are entitled to a 10% discount on parts and labor at Freightliner Oasis dealers. Their preliminary invoice fell a little short of the proper discount. It took about a half hour of negotiating, displaying of previous service invoices, and plain old obstinacy on Craig's part, but finally the service advisor said "I don't want to lose you as customers for an $18 difference of opinion" and got close to the discount we deserved. It's hard to understand why we have to introduce some of the best Freightliner Oasis centers to the FCOC discount as we travel around the country!

Our bill was $806 for a 19 quart oil change, 1 oil filter, 2 fuel filters, a quart of differential grease, cleaning of the radiator and Charge Air Cooler, leveling of the air bags, and most importantly checking/inspection of 43 points on the Freightliner checklist including draining water out of the air tanks, plus a number of little lubrications and adjustments. Plus tax.

They say that the biggest hurdle for a new owner of a diesel pusher RV is the first oil change. We're OK with this one.

Paid invoice in hand, we went back to our coach, plugged it back into its hookups, and enjoyed a quiet night with the windows closed and the air conditioning on.

Saturday we drove northeast into New Mexico. But that's another story...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mexican Dentistry, getting an Implant

On having a dental implant done in Mexico: this is an informative blog for anyone who wants to know more about how it went.
If we still lived in a house, I would simply go to my regular dentist, pay him big bucks, and hardly mention the subject on my blog. We all go to doctors and dentists, how interesting can it be?

But because we are full time RVers, and I know that several readers want to know more about going to the dentist in Mexico, I'm posting a full report.

I went to Sani Dental Group in Los Algodones, Mexico. I have been there before and have been satisfied with their work and prices. When I posted before about this, I did not quite understand the price information or the time involved. I figured it would cost about $950 for an implant, and take between three and five days.  Wrong.  The price for the implant on their web site was for the implant post only, not for the crown that it supports. Their $750 implant, which upon looking back at it does clearly state "implant only" is for their cheapest post which was not recommended for the condition of my upper jawbone. Mine cost $850. The crown itself will be another $650. I also had to pay $40 for removing a bit of root still there, $75 for the 3-D X-ray, $150 for some laser trimming, and $150 for a temporary removable tooth.  It all adds up to almost $2000. But that is still half of what a US dentist would charge. Again, when I went back and looked at the price information on Sani's web page, this was all listed. I just didn't understand what was all involved.

The other thing I did not understand was that they implant the post and then wait six months before the crown is put on. That is what the removable temporary tooth is for. It has to be removed to eat.

Again this really isn't too bad for us. We plan on spending much of the winter months in the Southwest.  I asked the dentist if five months is long enough because then it would be more convenient for us. He said it would probably be OK, but if I wasn't healed enough they would recommend waiting another month.  So we will see how it goes time-wise.

I had an appointment for a diagnostic exam on Monday. 

Going to the dentist in Los Algodones is unlike going to the dentist in the USA. In the case of Sani Dental, they have three locations in just a few blocks. Having forgotten to ask which we were to go to, we went to the one where we had work done most recently. I checked in, they called the other location and said my appointment was at the main location, but did the Xray where we needed anyway. Once it was finished, they put it on a CD-R and one of their people walked us over to the main location a few blocks away. 

When Craig had some work done there a few years ago, we started at the main location and were walked over to the second office.

Waiting is a major part of going to the dentist in Mexico. Be ready to spend the day. If you have a noon appointment, you might be seen by 12:30 or 1:00. The desk help seems to understand English quite well, but also seems mystified by any computer screen that shows your appointment time or and other information that you so carefully submitted online.

After awhile I was called in for my diagnostic exam. In addition to checking things out for the implant, they advised me that I need considerable additional dental work. I have taken that under advisement for now. They used a camera that displayed close ups of my teeth on an overhead screen. Showing me good crowns in my mouth, and six that are failing. At the time I didn't want to hear about them, but I may have them worked on next spring. I think I have a few months to consider what to do.

I have to point out that they in no way pressure you to have any work done. They say that, in the diagnostic appointment, they want to show you everything and it is up to you what you want done. The estimate for having six crowns replaced was just over $1000.  In the states you can easily pay $1000 or more per crown.

I decided to just do the implant for now.

My appointment for Tuesday was at 10 AM. Of course we arrived a bit early, but had to wait until almost 11 AM for anything to happen. While we waited, my information was verified and I was given a Valium to relax me.

I was then taken into a room and impressions were taken. These were for the temporary tooth partial.

Then I was sent back to the waiting area.

Eventually they were ready for me. In another small room I was introduced to another doctor and his assistant. The assistant spoke English very well and conveyed my question to the doctor. 
My main concern was that they were going to us lots of Novocain! 
The answer was: "of course." I have to interject that, for me, getting the Novocain shot is the scariest part of any dental experience. I have had some dentist who were real butchers!  I am happy to report that this Mexican dentist was wonderful at this: the shots were almost painless. 

Once I was numb, he pulled the remaining root from my jaw, cleaned it up, drilled a hole in the bone, screwed in the implant, and sewed it all up. I felt no real pain, and I the procedure seemed well done. 

I was then sent back into the waiting room again.

At some point they sent a runner to the pharmacy for pain meds, ibuprofen and antibiotic amoxicillin. I paid $17 cash to the runner. 

More waiting, and as the novocain started wearing off I started to hurt! I took a pain pill.

The next step was laser trimming. I was again taken into a little room and another technician and another dentist did a laser procedure. Once again I asked the technician for an explanation of what and why. The laser burns the tissue around the implant and kills any possible infection.  Because I was still a bit numb, there was no discomfort.

Back to the waiting room. It was now almost 2:00, and we were told the temporary tooth might be ready by 3:00.

At this point I was really starting to hurt a LOT. I had taken a pain pill earlier, and was afraid to take another on an empty stomach, so Craig went out in search of something soft for me to eat. After a bit he came back with a large cup of chicken soup that the vendor had put through a blender.  It worked: I got something in my tummy, took a half dose of the pain med and started to feel much better.

Before 3:00 we were escorted back over to the other location. After a bit of a wait I was met by the same doctor that did the implant at the main location, and he took me to one of the many little rooms. He fit the temporary tooth and his assistant explained that I should remove it to eat. And in fact until I was healed, I should limit putting it in. The temporary is for cosmetic purposes only.

Although I had significant discomfort (REAL PAIN) in the first few hours, I have to report that by five hours later, as I write most of this, I have no pain at all, and have been quite comfortable for several hours. Update: I woke up the next morning with no discomfort at all. But, I took one more pain pill, just in case, and will take all of the antibiotic as prescribed.

I am confident that I will have no problems.

So for now, I say this was an OK experience.  Believe me, I will tell you about any complications!

Still toothless in Yuma, but on my way to having a nice smile by February !

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Wind Cave National Park and the Wildlife Drive in Custer State Park

As expected, our get-together with fellow Alfa owners Betty and Joe, proved to be a delightful evening. We spent several hours visiting and then had dinner in their beautiful Henderson home. They have mementos from all over the world. But unlike many collectors, their displays are neither cluttered nor overwhelming. Everything had a story, and was a pleasure to view. Betty really has a talent for decorating. We are hoping to see them again in Quartzsite in January.

So, with that said, here is the last post about the Custer State Park area.

Just south of the Custer SP is Wind Cave National Park. It was our Tuesday adventure.

While we waited for our Cave Tour, we watched the  informative park movie and checked out the exhibits in the Visitor's Center. 

I'm sure glad we live "now." Early  women tourists wore outfits like this, carried candles or torches, and went down into the cave using ladders and ropes.

For our tour, the cave had electric illumination and stairs or paved pathways.

According to Indian lore, buffalo and people came out of the earth from Wind Cave.

This hole was the original entrance. When discovered, it was 18" in diameter.  It was widened a bit so that early tourists could get into the cave using ladders.

The cave got its name from the wind-like air flow in and out of this hole. Changes in barometric pressure make the cave seem to breathe.

This is a dry cave, so unlike many others it does not have large drip formations like stalactites, stalagmites, and flow stone. 

What it does have is large amounts of a very rare formation called boxwork. In fact 90% of all the known box work in the world is found in this one cave!

I don't know what caused this, since there is little water flow in the cave, but it was in a chamber with several other similar holes. It was in the ceiling and looked to be about three feet deep.

The ranger-led tour took us through many narrow passages and into some sizable caverns. We took a lot of stairs going down into the cave, but fortunately it ended with an elevator ride back up. 

I would never want to be a spelunker, but such tours are interesting. Each cave has its own special features.

Within the boundaries of Custer State Park there is a long road named the Wildlife Loop. Driving it was a good addition to our day, after the cave tour.

Although not classified as native wildlife, there is a small herd of feral burros that love to beg carrots from the passing tourists. The usual "do not feed the wildlife" does not apply to them.

They are the descendants of the herd that once hauled visitors up to the top of Harney Peak. When the rides were discontinued, they were released into the park.

"Please give me a carrot!"

We saw a large herd of Pronghorns along the road. We wondered why they seemed to be eating the gravel instead of the grass.

No wildlife drive would be complete without a good-sized herd of buffalo crossing the road.

This one was in no mood to move out of our way. It stood there for quite some time before finally strolling down the center of the road.

Since buffalo can't read, this critter did not know the sign read "Official Vehicle Use Only". She thought it was a scratching post for buffalo.

One of the evening programs at our campground was about the buffalo roundup that they do each fall in the park. Although they are wild, the herd is managed. If you look very carefully at the hip of the buffalo above, you can just barely make out a number 4. This brand indicates it was born in 2014. Most of the buffalo we saw were born in 2013 and 2014. The oldest we saw was a bull born in 2006.

At the roundup the herd is culled to keep it at a sustainable size. With no natural predators, the buffalo would quickly outgrow the available grassland. The health of all of the animals is also monitored at roundup time. We heard this roundup is a big event that thousands of people come to watch. Unfortunately we will not be there when it happens.  

Maybe another year. As full timers we are free to go back if we want. Life is good!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Needles Drive

On Thursday and Friday we had two good long driving days, each over 450 miles, and made a much shorter run today of only about 144 miles. We will be stopping in Henderson NV, jut south of Las Vegas, so we can get together with a couple of other Alfa RV owners, Joe and Betty. We met them this summer, and have exchanged emails several times. We are really looking forward to seeing them this evening.

Now, to catch up with our travels in the Custer State Park area: On Monday we drove the Needles Highway and took a hike around Sylvan Lake.

The park road winds through the forest and along the edge of the mountain. From it, your first view of the needles is a wall of upthrust rock spires in the distance.

As you get closer, there are many pull-outs along the road so you can admire these huge formations. Note how tiny I seem, standing at the base of this one.

I really don't have time to compose many words about them, but here is another neat image.

There are five tunnels through the rocks, some as narrow as 12'. We had stopped for lunch near this one and we were startled when we say a Class C RV heading toward it. We couldn't see the tunnel at the time, but the RV seemed to have gone through just fine because it never came back.

This rock had a name: The Eye of the Needle. I wanted to get the sun shining through the hole, but couldn't get the right angle.

Sylvan Lake is small with a lodge and boat/kayak rentals. There is also a swimming beach, and quite a few children were having fun in the water.

The hike around was about a mile and a half, partially paved, with a few challenging spots. I have learned that even if a walk is short, and starts level and paved, I should take my hiking poles along. I really need them for confidence and balance in rough spots.

The lake was perfectly calm and the air was cool. Wonderful!

We took a different route back to camp, and along the way we stopped to take pictures of several longhorn cattle grazing in a field. After the buffalo herds were decimated, a herd of 4000 wild Texas longhorns were driven up to the South and North Dakota grasslands. They in turn were almost all killed in the bad winter of 1886. 

We passed this sign every time we left the park. Turtles or not, this is the way I prefer to move across this vast country of ours!

Except when I need a new tooth!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


There is a saying that says: "RV plans should be written in JELLO, always with a bit of wiggle room."

I had the next month all planned, with several reservations made, and the ultimate destination of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival arranged with a spot at the Escapee group. Then on Saturday, while eating a yummy smoked rib, I felt what seemed like I had bitten into the bone instead of the meat. I removed part of what I was chewing with a discrete use of the napkin and swallowed the rest. But then to my dismay, I discovered one of my front teeth was gone! It wasn't in the napkin!

I felt no discomfort. The tooth wasn't anchored in my gum. It was part of a very expensive construction my Santa Cruz Mountain dentist put in a few years ago. The tooth next to it is a crown on one of my own roots, and the missing tooth was attached to it. I guess it could be described as a one tooth bridge.

What to do? I had a six tooth bridge done on my lower front teeth a few years ago and the price tag was close to $6000. I don't really want to replace my top four if I can avoid it, and the three crowns are left look pretty good. I think I need an implant.

I checked the price of implants on the internet. Of course it depends on where you go, but the web said $1500 was the low end, and that $4000 was the average US cost for an implant.  We have had OK results with Sani Dental in Los Algodones in Baja, Mexico. I checked their prices. They charge $750 for a simple implant and $150 for a CT scan. So we are on our way to Mexico on Thursday.

Personally, I wanted to wait until after the Balloon Festival, and stop there on our way to San Diego. But Craig wants it taken care of right away, so we are going to pull some high mileage days and blast our way south. I canceled the reservations I had. All were no problem except for the one state park. When you make a state park reservation there is usually a small non-refundable reservation fee. Then there is another fee if you change or cancel. Thus I had to blow off $36 to the state of Colorado. Oh well, such is life. We will be burning $500 in fuel that we could have saved if we waited until after Albuquerque. What's $36 more in the big picture?

I feel like our bank account has sprung a big leak! We also paid the full 3 year premium on our extended warranty this month, and are due for a full round of annual services on the Alfa. But then, all this adds up to less than a mortgage, home and earthquake insurance, and property taxes.

Full time RV living is still an economical way to live. I probably would have lost that tooth in our sticks and bricks home too!

I still have a couple of stories to tell about our time here at Custer State Park, which I will probably do while Craig drives. I do my share of the driving too, and we trade off frequently so neither of us gets too tired. 

Think of us zooming across the western USA. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Jewel Cave

Whenever we find ourselves in the neighborhood of a cave that is lit and has tours, we try to go there. Saturday we went to Jewel Cave National Monument which is close to Custer State Park.

We joined about thirty-five other people on the hour and twenty minute, ranger led tour. Like most ranger talks, hers was quite good and gave us a better understanding of what we were seeing. We try to read everything in the Visitor Centers, but a talk is always an added pleasure.

Taking pictures in a cave is a challenge to say the least. Especially when you are part of a tight group moving along a narrow walkways and stairs. The ranger asked us to keep moving and not stop for very long to snap pictures. I ended up with a lot of low-light images containing strange colors that had not been there to my eye. Below are a few that are pretty close to what we actually saw. All are of different formations, mostly made up of calcite. 

The last one is of a particularly interesting formation that looks just like a really huge strip of bacon. The picture we took was not in focus, so I borrowed this one from the web.

Image from the web by
There is another cave to the south of us, Wind Cave, that we want to visit before we move on. 

There is so much to see and do here in the Black Hills. The weather has been nice, and Blue Bell campground is very pretty even though we can't get satellite TV due to the trees.

The only problem is there is no dump station in or near the campground. Since we are here for nine nights, we are about to drive thirteen miles of winding, narrow, park road to a campground with a dump station in another part of the park. We have stayed in several parks where there is no sewer hookup at our site, but there has always been one near by. We don't mind moving once a week to dump, but a 26 mile round trip is excessive!

I think we could have made it for our full stay if we used the park showers and paper plates, but Craig would rather not live like that and doesn't mind the drive. It is easier than what we drove once a week when we lived in the Alfa on our mountain property. I guess I've just gotten spoiled with all the full-hookup parks we have been at. But I really do like it here a lot better than a gravel parking lot like some of the commercial places we have stayed.  

[From Craig]  I just saw a new contributor handle on the Alfaseeya Yahoo group: "lovestheturns".  I may send him/her/them an email saying that there's a lot for them to love at Custer State Park, SD!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument

On Thursday we drove over to visit the guys at Mt. Rushmore.  Being South Dakota residents, we've had their picture on our license plates for more than a year, so it was time to meet them in person.

We drove a rather winding road from Custer State Park to the Mt. Rushmore area. Our first view of the monument was a surprise as we made a tight turn on the edge of the opposing mountain. There they were!  Just like their pictures.

After parking in the Xanterra (the concession management company) parking building, we walked up to the visitor's center and expansive viewing deck. We both enjoyed walking through the hall of flags. As we looked up we identified the states, but wondered why the Hawaiian flag looked so British.  

Google Answer: Hawaii was once an independent kingdom. (1810 - 1893) The flag was designed at the request of King Kamehameha I. It has eight stripes of white, red and blue that represent the eight main islands. The flag of Great Britain is emblazoned in the upper left corner to honor Hawaii's friendship with the British.

We listened to a nice young ranger give a talk, and then took the President's Walk down around the base to the sculptor Borglum's Studio and back up to the Borglum View Terrace.

One of the neat things about being  able to walk down below the sculpture, was to see the presidents from a different angle.

I couldn't help wondering what President Washington would think of Mr. Trump.

Or what any of them would think about the rhetoric being thrown about by the Republican party candidates, not to mention the media attention focused on Clinton and her emails.

Each of these four were both honored and vilified during their lifetimes. The nation turned a blind eye to their human failures, and recognized the strong leadership they showed in their administrations. 

Every four or eight years we see a new president take office. I often wonder what history will say about them in a hundred years or more.   Will anyone ever carve a mountain image of Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama?  

We will all be dead and gone by then, so we will never know. 

In the studio we learned more about how the mountain was carved, and looked at the artist's model. 

The sculpture was never finished. Work stopped when it became apparent the country was heading into WW2. But even with only the heads included, it is an inspiring sight.

As tourists in the Black Hills, our trip would not be complete without also stopping in to see the Crazy Horse Memorial.  The sculpture itself is clearly visible from the road, but there was much to read and see in the American Indian Museum, the Crazy Horse Visitor's center, and the artists home and studio.

This sculpture, a private venture, is many times larger than Mt. Rushmore. The original artist estimated it would take a hundred years to complete. It has been 67 since it was started, and although the artist  has died, his family's non-profit foundation continues the work.

We took the short bus ride to the base of the mountain where we got a little better view of the face. You can take a van ride up to the area below his chin, but it cost $150 per person. Not in our budget!

The plaster model is on display on a patio area where you can compare it to the work on the mountain.  You can see there's a lot left to do, but the fact that the mountain is now pretty much shaped like the sculpture means a lot has been accomplished!

We enjoyed looking at the many donated collections of American Indian artifacts and art work.  The walls were covered with paintings, quilts, war bonnets, and photographs. I was particularly delighted with all the beadwork on display.

The perfection demonstrated on this horse regalia was beautiful. 

We learned the first glass beads were brought to America in 1492. Before they had beads, the Indians used porcupine quills to create their decorative work. As an artist myself, I can imagine the awe and excitement they must have felt when becoming acquainted with the colors and permanence of the beautiful Italian beads.

While at the Crazy Horse Memorial we were lucky to catch an Indian Dance demonstration done by these two. 

The older Indian also explained some of the parts of their dress. My new fact for the day was about the long "flap" that hangs down in the back below their knees. When they walked, or danced in a crouched down position, it would drag on the ground and erase their moccasin prints.

I am presently reading a rather thick book about Crazy Horse, that we bought at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Reading it as we travel through this area makes it all come together. 

I know it was another time, but I have never been proud of how the West was settled and what the whites took from the native people. But at the same time, America allowed slavery and women were not allowed to vote. The white men were the "illegal" immigrants of the day, many of them were not born on American soil.

Guns and technology made it possible.