Part of me that would like to explain thoroughly why I detest Teddy Roosevelt. But I’ll just summarize. Yes, he’s the conservation President, and I’m not against conservation of wilderness, but, at the same time, he basically set the precedent for the District of Columbia to possess a gigantic empire of Western lands that is far beyond the intended limits that the federal government is supposed to control, and the result has been disastrous. He’s also the man who clamored for war with Spain; probably orchestrated the murder of President McKinley; set the stage for the 20th century’s unprecedented growth of federal power; and, through the Bull Moose Party, split the Republican ticket so Woodrow Wilson could get elected and pass the Federal Reserve Act. I despise Teddy Roosevelt.

Then there’s Lincoln… let’s just say that the notion he was a man crusading against slavery is a fiction of the 20th century. The rhetoric he employed to justify an invasion of the South was sophistry. The notion that States don’t have a right to secede is laughable. The Civil War left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead, and the ultimate intention behind it was to solidify the District of Columbia’s control over the entire American landmass, relegating the states to a subservient status inimical to the perpetuation of liberty. I don’t think Lincoln was a saint. Yet, I don’t doubt he saw that European powers were trying to divide the Union, so they could gobble it up piecemeal, and Lincoln did help perpetuate American sovereignty, at least for a while.

Washington and Jefferson I regard as genuine heroes. I do.

Thus, I have mixed feelings about Mt. Rushmore. I sure don’t think those four heads are those of America’s four best Presidents. Not by a long shot. However, it does seem that the visions of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt had for the shaping of the United States of America were potent. This monument seems more a testament to their influence rather than their righteousness. But I could be nuts.

Either way, woke up in Belle Forche, South Dakota with the intention of seeing Mt. Rushmore, getting a photo, and moving on. So, got up, got crappy coffee, and was heading to Deadwood by 8 am.

Deadwood is a town that sprung up during the gold rush days to the Black Hills in the 1870’s, this massive infusion of whites into this part of Sioux Country being the reason why war with the Sioux became inevitable and resulted in Custer’s last stand (even though the Black Hills were supposed to be off-limits to whites as per the treaty of Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868). It was a lawless town of miners, gamblers, hellions and murderers. Now, it’s resort town with casinos, which were legalized by the South Dakota legislature in 1989.

It’s nice. But I hate resort towns. I hate the difficulty of parking, the crowds of pedestrians, and the high prices. Drove through Deadwood, and moved on.

Thirty minutes later I was paying $10 to park at Mt. Rushmore. Tons of people. I saw the heads of the Presidents, took a photo, and was gone fifteen minutes later. Without crowds I could have stayed and stared. With them, forget it.

An hour later I was at Badlands national park. The rock formations look like the painted desert of Arizona. Frankly, I only drove through the park to check it off some list of places I can say I’ve been to, like Mt. Rushmore. The more I do this, the more I think it a stupid way to travel.

Quintessential Badlands scenery. Sunset would be great out here. It would almost be worthwhile to come back this way for colorful sunset pics. But not this day. Was raring to continue east.

There came a point in which I couldn’t get out of the Badlands fast enough. I was raring to get some mileage on I-90. After thirty minutes I was zooming east again.

South Dakota seemed like the halfway point to Syracuse. Getting to Minnesota meant I was on the eastern half of my journey. Though Worthington, in southwest Minnesota, is about 1,200 miles from Syracuse, it would still mean I’m closer to the ‘Cuse than Sedona. It would be the beginning of the latter half of my journey where I could pass through smaller eastern states much more quickly, compared to enormous western states.

Finally in the evening I made it into the Land of 10,000 lakes, though in the south its far more like Iowa. Another new state. Neat.

Found accommodation at some crappy motel in Albert Lea. Good night.