Leaving the hot and humid temperatures of Pine Bluff recently, 45 members of Relyance Bank’s Crown Club and their guests departed on a nine-day vacation to Mount Rushmore and the legendary Black Hills of South Dakota.
The group stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel at Springdale and picked up a few more Crown Club travelers. After a day of traveling, the group had dinner and shopped at Town Center Plaza at Leawood, Kan.
The next morning the travelers were off to Omaha, Neb., where they enjoyed lunch and shopping in Omaha’s most historic and entertaining neighborhood, The Old Market. The brick streets are home to a very diverse mix of shops, galleries and a variety of fantastic restaurants.
After lunch they visited the beautiful JOSLYN Art Museum, where they explored the many galleries that contain collections ranging from antiquity to the present, with special emphasis on 19th and 20th Century European and American art. Later, they had dinner at the Black Bear Diner, in Sioux City, Iowa and headed to Sioux Fall, S.D., for the night.
The Corn Palace, built in 1892 to showcase crops that could be grown in the rich soil in Mitchell, S.D., was first on the agenda the next morning. Every year a festival celebrates the harvest and the Corn Palace is decorated in murals using only corn, grasses or grains native to the state.
Later in the day, they visited the world famous Wall Drug in Wall, S.D., for unique shopping and the best buffalo burgers in the area. They later arrived at their hotel for the next four nights, in Rapid City, S.D.
After breakfast the next morning, the group departed for a tour of historic Deadwood, the former home of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, where gambling and dining saloons recreated the historic days of the Gold Rush, complete with cobblestone streets and turn-of-the-century architecture. They also traveled to Spearfish to the High Plains Western Heritage Center, a five-state region historical center featuring artifacts of the Old West pioneers of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming.
A visit to the world’s largest mountain carving, now in progress, was first on the itinerary the next morning. The colossal memorial began in 1949 and is a tribute to Crazy Horse, the Lakota leader. They had time to explore the Visitor’s Center, which included the Indian Museum of North America, Cultural Center and the Sculptor Korczak’s Studio-Home and Workshop. They enjoyed stories and authentic Indian dancing and a delightful lunch.
Later in the afternoon, they toured and shopped at the Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold & Diamond Factory and Outlet Store, where they got an upclose view as skilled artisans’ handcrafted jewelry. They then departed for the Journey Museum, which told the history of 2.5 billion years of the land, animals, reptiles and culture of the Black Hills.
The next morning the group traveled to the Borglum Historical Center to hear the story of Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, before viewing the inspiring carving of solid granite from the presidential trail where they had a spectacular view of the sculpture. After lunch, they enjoyed a drive through the Wildlife loop in Custer State Park, where they experienced a South Dakota traffic jam of a huge herd of buffalo. The travelers continued their scenic drive and were thrilled to see an abundance of wildlife, several varieties of deer, wild donkeys, prairie dogs, wild turkeys and big horn sheep. They then departed for Fort Hays, where they enjoyed a tour of the “Dances with Wolves” film set.
The next day as they traveled home, they departed for Badland National Park, where they traveled along the Badlands Loop and were in awe of the sight of peaks, gullies, buttes and wide prairies of delicately banded colors that shifted in the sunlight. The whole region seemed a part of another world and the travelers agreed that it was an experience not easily forgotten.
St. Joseph, Mo., was first on the itinerary the next morning, where the group visited the Pony Express National Museum. They learned how on April 3, 1860, the riders, carrying saddlebags, braved nature’s cruel elements and rugged terrain to travel 2,000 miles to California to unite a country separated by distance. Some in the group visited Patee House Museum. Built in 1858 as a luxury hotel, it is one block away from the home of infamous Jesse James, where he was shot and killed by Bob Ford. Inside Patee House, you can climb aboard an 1860 train and ride the vintage “Wild Thing” carousel. The museum also houses an 1877 railroad depot, stagecoach, cars, trucks, fire trucks, wagons, buggies, a horse-drawn hearse, a real gallows, a blacksmith shop, a wing with Western art and a wing designed to look like the Streets of Old St. Jo in the 1860-1880s.
After spending the night in Kansas City, Mo., they traveled to Pine Bluff. Those enjoying the trip were Donna Davis, Joyce Reed, Patsy and Ed Gnau, Lula Gray, Myrtle Curry, Betty and Jimmy Johnson, Linda and Roger Minyard, Charline Venable, Billie Isaacs, Sue Robertson, Katherine Keahey, Nancy and Robert Rosen, Barbara Stone, Jackie and Charel Tubbs, Johnita and Ham Waddle, Mary and Claude Wilbern, Marylyn and Jimmy Williams, Diane and Larry Porter, Earl Raines, Jennifer Rowland, Ashlee Gibson, Sarah Lee, Jackie and Bob Barringer, Sara and James Bearden, Tuck and Julie McDonald, LaQuita Wisner, Evelyn Glover, Doris Vailes, Helen Kulbeth, Martha Taylor, Pat Bethea, and John Whitwell.
Cindy Whitwell was the escort and reminded the travelers of the many great vacations coming in 2014. She also mentioned there was still room available on the San Antonio Christmas tour for 2013.