This trip was planned with the Covid beast in mind. The “curve” has already begun to flatten in the NY/ NJ area, but Covid cautions will be with us, for the foreseeable future. The is still no cure. Many Americans did not witness what NY & NJ saw firsthand.
Trip plans included precautions such as staying in campgrounds in our tent as opposed to staying in hotels, gloves when pumping gas and entering stores along the way, lots of disinfectant wipes and of course our beloved masks. We wanted to get out, but we also wanted to be smart about taking steps not to spread or contract the virus.
With all the precautions in place a road trip to the great wide-open spaces and a visit to Mt. Rushmore seemed like a safe bet. Unfortunately, after we planned our trip and about 3 days prior to leaving we found out that President Trump was scheduled to use Mt. Rushmore on July 3, 2020 to “Salute America”. Tickets to the event were sold out months ago. Everything we read said the National monument would remain open except July 3. So, we adjusted our plans to visit a few days earlier believing that we could get in and see everything. What a lie. We went on June 30, 2020 and most of the ground were off limits. Shame on the National Parks Service. I have never been so disappointed at a Federal Agency. What they did was tell us the park was open. For all practical purposes most of the park was off limits to the public. The were nice enough to pretend that we were going to be able to see the site and took our money at the gate. Once you entered the ground you quickly realize the plaza has been blocked off. Basically, you just paid to enter and see what you saw from outside the gate. What a scam. Most likely I going to call AmEx to have the charge reversed.
There were no masks on most of the people that we encountered at Mt Rushmore. Locals that work the park are being exposed to travelers from around the globe. We wore our masks, most did not.
Shifting focus to the animals and wildlife, we found a plethora of creatures roaming the parks, many with their new babies in tow. Bison brought back from the brink of extinction. Antelope, prairie dogs, horses and of course, the scenery. The Black Hills offer some of the most majestic views on the planet. The roads carve through stones and wrap around step cliffs.
We met lots of interesting people, maintaining our social distance of at least 6 feet apart. A local photographer shared some tips and gave us some pointers for locations to shoot from around the park. Another group we met from the north east struck up a conversation with us over the fact that we, like they, wore masks. We theorized that if people haven’t seen the ravages of Covid up close, they just don’t get it. I hope they never get the disease.