Train, Wine, and Monuments
Today involved trains, wine, and a monument. We got up early to drive down to Hill City, to ride the 1880 Steam Train. The train is an old steam train that travels between Hill City and Keystone on a mine line that used to connect the towns and mines. The steam train travels at 10 MPH so it takes an hour to go the 10 miles between the towns, and the round trip is 2 hours. The scenery along the line is nice, but you see several personal homes along the route. The inside of the train cars were carefully restored and well cared for. The two cars we were in (we changed cars at Keystone) had stained glass windows along the top, windows that opened, and padded seat with backs that moved so you can change which direction you are facing. Overall, the experience was okay and was nice to do once. I would not do it a second time.
After the train ride we went to the Prairie Berry Winery. We ate lunch at the winery then tasted some of their wines. The winery gives everyone five free tastings. I tasted the Anna Pesa Louka which reminded me of a light unoaked chardonnay, the Buffaloberry Fusion which was nice light wine with a sweet end-note, the Gold Digger a nice semi-sweet white with a distinct pear taste, and finally the Chuckleberry which was a nice sweet and fruity red. I ended up getting the Chuckleberry and the Gold Digger. My mom tried the the Deadwood, the Razzy Apple, the Pomegranate Fusion, the Red Ass Rhubarb, and the Black Raspberry Fusion. My mom bought a bottle of the Chuckleberry and the Deadwood. From the winery we went to see the Crazy Horse Monument.
The Crazy Horse Monument is more than a monument, it also has a very large visitor center complex. The visitor center has a large museum showcasing Native American art and culture, a restaurant, a demonstration area where they showcase Native American Dance, an art studio, and of course a gift shop. You cannot walk to the monument, but you can take a 30 minute bus tour that takes you to the base and tells you the history of the monument. We did the 30 minute bus tour, our bus driver was Larry, who was pleasant and informative. We learned they are working on the hand, which must be done with only jackhammers because it is delicate and will take about 15 years to complete. The horse head is next, and will take about 50 years to complete. It is going to take a long time to complete the monument, and it won’t be completed in my lifetime. Finally, before you leave you can take home one of the rocks blasted from the mountain to make the monument. We took a rock. This concluded our day.
Tomorrow it is back down to Wind Cave to take one of the cave tours.