Friday, June 3 – Rapid City, South Dakota
One of the reasons we decided to launch this blog was to chronicle our “adventures” in the year that I turn 60 and Sue turns 70. We are now at the beginning of one of those adventures, having made it to Rapid City, South Dakota, for our first ever bus tour. It is a Caravan Tours expedition to Mount Rushmore, Little Big Horn, Billings, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Salt Lake City.
We take a bus tour with some trepidation. We always groaned when a tour group swarmed off their bus and invaded a historic or scenic site that we were enjoying quietly. They seemed to talk too loudly and all sounded like they were from Lawng Island. The materials for our tour warned that we would be getting on and off the bus several times a day, which didn’t exactly sound strenuous. In fact, having already gained back 10 of the 20 pounds I lost in 2013, I am terrified of spending a sedentary week on a bus. I put in 17,000 steps on the Fitbit today and did not have my usual craft brew. Our goal is to squeeze in at least 10,000 steps per day.
So why are we doing the bus trip? We took a trip to Provence in 2007 which has lingered in our psyches ever since. It was breathtaking and the food was amazing, but it wore us out – especially me. I was the French speaker always searching for “le mot juste” and the driver of a rented Renault stick shift. At one point, in the village of Le Mans, we had to back down a tortuous mountain road so a tour bus could get through – much to the amusement of the locals watching the drama unfold.
If we didn’t arrive at a village in the Luberon between noon and 2 p.m., we did not get a proper lunch and had to wait until a respectable 8 p.m. or later for dinner. I love the French and believe I was born to sit in a cafe with a carafe of wine and watch them be, well, French. But a French meal is an elaborate ritual that Americans really need to study and appreciate before they commit a classic faux pas such as order coffee with their meal or show up at 5 p.m. looking for the Early Bird Special.
Anyway, that’s why we decided to leave the driving to someone else. We have spent the day in Rapid City, the charming gateway to Mount Rushmore. The streets feature bronze statues of all the presidents, and we have been hunting them down for photographs – getting excited when we found Lincoln and Kennedy and politely passing on James Buchanan and Andrew Jackson.
We had our welcome meeting tonight at The Rushmore Hotel. The biggie tour companies are all here – Globus, Trafalgar and Tauck. We walked past their welcome sessions where the beer and wine were flowing. We got cookies. Still, Caravan gets rave reviews for value – and the cookies were yummy.
Tomorrow, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial.