We followed our daughter, Christina, to Rapid City to watch the 2009 NAIA Women Championship Golf Tournament in which her school, Oklahoma City University (OCU), was competing.
We've never been to South Dakota before and all I know about the state is that it has Mount Rushmore and Sturgis, the place where motorcycle riders from all over the world gather to rally every August. Rapid City is in a region called Black Hills. The region has this name because the hills surrounding the city have tall pine trees and in the summer time, the trees are so thick and their dark green pine needles darken all the hills.
Our first impression of Rapid City is that it is truly a frontier town.
The air is crisp and clean and there is definitely no traffic congestion and air pollution here.
People are extremely friendly and courteous.
The downtown area consists of several blocks of western style buildings that are well maintained and charming.
Every corner of the downtown area has sculptures of past presidents. The corner at Main Street and 6th Street has statues of President John F. Kennedy and his son John John.
Lee in the Black Hills Region
"Downtown" Rapid City
President Kennedy and John John, corner of Main and 6th Street
OCU had won the past four consecutive championship and was trying for a 5-peat. This year tournament was held from May 12th to 15th, 2009 at the Meadowbrook Golf Course and among the participants were 36 schools and 144 players. Let me just quickly introduce the OCU team.
Christina Cung (Senior)
Ashly Sholer (in black, Senior)
Sydney Cox (Senior)
Morgan Gay (in white)
Lee near Rapid Creek
OCU Team is coached by M.J. Desbiens (in white)
Madison Haley not Playing but Comes to Support Team
The four-day tournament was played in varying weather. It was sunny and warm on a couple of days, and cloudy and windy on the others. South Dakota weather in May really tests all the players. The Meadowbrook Golf Course, surrounded by the infamous Rapid Creek, is not as spectacular as some other courses on which the Championship had been played but it is still very beautiful
Meadowbrook's 18th Hole
At the end of the tournament and to no one's surprise, OCU won its fifth consecutive title by beating the runner-up by a large margin. Sydney Cox and Ashley Sholer of OCU finished 1-2 in the filed of 144 and Christina finished 11th.
Sydney Cox and Ashley Sholer Finished 1-2
Time for a Team Hug but Morgan is Late
The Proud Parents
MJ Desbiens Named Coach of the Year
The girls golfed in the day time and at night, they got together with their coach, parents and supporters for dinner. That was fun and we really enjoyed it. Lee was a little emotional at times because this is Christina's last year of college but she also realized that Christina had had a wonderful college career as she was invloved in four championships and graduated with honor. We are very proud of her.
The OCU Team headed home on Saturday May 16, 2009 and since Lee and I had an extra day to spend, we decided to explore southern South Dakota. We went to see Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Crazy Horse Memorial. Mount Rushmore is where the heads of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln were carved into the granite mountain. These were the men that promoted individual liberty, independence and freedom. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum and hundreds of workers had worked tirelessly for several years to complete this feat. The National Parks Service has a constructed a viewing platform on which visitors can stand and have unobstructed views of the statues.
Standing at the foot of Mount Rushmore looking up, one can't help but feeling very proud of this country and the things it has accomplished.
On the Way to Mount Rushmore
Entrance to Mount Rushmore Grand View Terrace
Not a Postcard. I Actually Took this Picture
The View is so Awe-inspiring
After leaving Mount Rushmore, we took a winding drive through the scenic Custer State Park. Here you can really get close to wild animals
Wild Donkeys in Custer State Park
These Donkeys are Spoiled. They Want to be Fed
Buffaloes Foraging in the Background
Deer are Everywhere
Lee just Loves these Deer
A 45-minute drive from Custer State Park will take you to the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is mankind's largest art project that is still in progress. The face of Chief Crazy Horse is finished but the rest of the statue including his horse is still being carved. Awesome.
Continued on, we arrived at Deadwood, 50 miles northwest of Rapid City and stopped there for dinner. Deadwood is also the only town in South Dakota where gambling is legalized. Every hotel has a casino and buffet line. We dined at the Silverado Franklin and Lee had a good time at the slot machine. Time to go home once again. This is truly a great trip because we got to see Christina playing golf and a part of the country we have not seen before. We thoroughly enjoyed this trip.