Looking back, I now see the miscalculations of a friend’s and my summer vacation to Mt. Rushmore. The both of us were barely old enough to drive. He was going to be a junior in high school and I would be a sophomore. His parents were very liberal in how they raised him. Mine, well, I’m still not sure how I convinced them to let me go. Either way, on a hot summers day back in 1990, my friend Steve and I set out from Nebraska in his extremely old, 1970 Dodge Van, pulling a borrowed pop-up trailer.
I guess we should have known from our first experience the whole trip was destined to go bad. We’d driven quite a while and late that night we pulled into a free camping area. Instead of setting up the pop-up, we decided sleeping in a tent would be much easier. We noticed another group not far away who seemed pretty rowdy, but being so tired, we didn’t really care. However, our attitudes changed once inside the tent. We had just gotten tucked away in sleeping bags when the lights from the other campers vehicle shined right on us. I casually joked, “Oh no, they’re going to run us down!” and we both laughed. The lights however, did not go away. Suddenly, the vehicle made a loud roaring noise and was heading right for us! Both Steve and I panicked, it was every man for himself as we literally fought one another to get out of the tent! However, it was an old, crappy tent and the zipper had gotten stuck! By now, the vehicle seemed all but on top of us, when suddenly, the lights went away. The truth is, it had done nothing but follow the path out of the park. Our over-active, teenage imaginations did the rest.
This was just one of many things that went wrong. We also endured a flat tire on the pop-up trailer, a flat tire on his van, an overheated engine in Valentine, SD and dead battery at a park called, Toadstool, which happens to be in the middle of nowhere! All of these things were rough at the time, but, like we all seem to do. I look back on this vacation gone wrong with sentimental memories of it having been truly wonderful!