Kurt, Marty and I headed west from Gillette Monday morning on the pathway to the jewel in the crown of all roadside attractions: Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. We also planned to take in the Crazy Horse Monument along the way and return by way of Devil's Tower in northeastern Wyoming.
Wyoming (and especially Gillette where we're staying) is known nationally for being an important energy producer, mostly in the form of coal, but also other fuels such as coal gasification and oil. On our path to Rushmore, we passed an old oil well museum that had apparently closed a while back, but still had some cool antique drilling and pumping equipment laying around. The best thing by a longshot, though, was the gift shop. Unfortunately the tank was empty.
As we passed the halfway point on the trail and turned toward the west, we could see that the sun had sunk below the horizon, coloring the sky that peeked from beneath the pine boughs a brilliant tangerine. It was an easy path and a beautiful night, so we took our time strolling back to the car and were treated to the breaktaking sight of the moon rising just to the right of the Tower. I lay on my back at a nice observation point where we paused and watched the moon rising higher and higher. Several bats flitted past, barely visible in the receding twilight. It was as silent as the tomb except for the lullaby of gentle breeze and quaking aspen leaves trembling just over my head. I had another of those overwhelming moments where I just can't believe how wonderful my life is. There I was with my dear friends in this beautiful sacred space, lying on my back on a delightful summer evening. Marty spotted to first star to rise and made a wish. I found myself feeling reluctant about leaving. Ah well, there were many more adventures to attend to, so it was time to set sail.