South Dakota, May 2002

18th May We departed from Newark at 5.40pm, touched down at Minneapolis at 8pm. After dinner at the M/airport, we took our connecting l hr 20 minutes flight to Rapid City. As we were walking out of the lounge of Rapid City airport, workers were switching off the lights after us. Obviously no other flight would come in for the day (or night).

As we found our way to our rented 7-seaters van, my watch read midnight, but it was only 10pm at Rapid City. We drove in darkness from the airport to town, somewhat like driving from Langkup to Teluk Intan. As we approached the City, the first impression I gathered was that it was a town full of small scale casinos; we passed by not less than 7 between the airport and our hotel.

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly to witness how Colleen reacted to the experience of a plane taking off. This was not the first time she was travelling by plane, but definitely the first time she could appreciate, experience and remember the event of a plane taking off. She occupied a window seat, and watched in amazement how the plane taxied, increased its speed, lifted off the ground. She giggled, laughed, even shrieked quietly in joy, to notice how the airport, the road, the people, the houses shrunk in size, getting smaller and smaller, and finally disappeared completely from sight. Then she was riding below, above and side by side of clouds. And she captured her experience in a drawing so realistic that she put Picasso in shame.

19th May Since I stepped on US soil on the 5th, this was the first time I had a truly glorious American breakfast, consisting of juice, coffee or tea, cereal, bagel, cheese spread and muffin. Boy, do I miss my curry noodles!

Right after our breakfast, we started our adventure. KN was an expert map reader, as much as Eunice was an expert driver. We drove around as if this was their 10th trip to this part of the country, whereas none of us had actually ever been here before.

We took Route 79 out of Rapid City. After roughly 10 miles out, the scenery began to change. Not only we no longer saw any tall buildings, even single storey houses, shops, barns, or any other business outlets are few and far in between. Then there was nothing but just miles of road that snaked across rolling, undulating grass land.

Soon we reached Keystone, the reason why so many Americans 'go west' in the 1770s. Keystone was the place where the precious metal of glittering gold was simply 'waiting to be picked up', or panned. The gold had "dried up", but the original feather of the town was maintained.

The road beyond Keystone was hilly, even mountainous. The road was more winding, the curves sharp, gradient steep. Suddenly we had the first glimpse of the reason why WE came west: the faces of 4 previous US presidents, measuring 60' each, were staring at us. Though we were still a few miles from Mount Rushmore, we stopped our car and took our first picture. I shall let our picture(s) tell you the story of the sculptured faces ['4 HEADS to Colleen] from here.

Click on the thumbnails for a larger version of the photos.

Mt Rushmore National Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial

Chapel of the Hills

Badlands National Park

Other Locations

Revised 20 February 2005