no matter where you go, there you are

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the mountain of our fore fathers

After the awe-inspiring formations of Badlands National Park, we drove west into the Black Hills. The landscape differences between the two locations was incredible. One minute you were in the plains of the midwest and the next, you're driving around mountain curves surrounded by tall, thin pine trees. Our first destination was Mt. Rushmore. If you don't know, Mt. Rushmore is a granite mountain top with the busts of 4 presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln) carved from the stone. I'm not sure of the reasons the artists decided this location, in the Southwestern corner of South Dakota was a good destination for their masterpiece, but alas there it was determined they carve. Well, it was really more like blasting with dynamite and then carving, but it took time, effort and skill nonetheless.

The site is now owned by the National Park Service and contains a large amphitheater, exhibits on the bust construction, and a small area on Native American culture. And of course, multiple gift shops. The walkway leading to the overlook of the mountain is lined with 4-sided columns. Each side had a stage flag waving from the top, and carved lower, the name and date of admission into the Union.
Massachusetts' flag

It was a gorgeous day and we took time wandering the exhibit halls and reading up on the creation of Mt. Rushmore. We then strolled along the walking path which takes you right to the base of the mountain and here we took a peek at the teepee and other Native American artifacts out for viewing.

It was a beautiful day; sunny and not excruciatingly hot. We couldn't have asked for better weather. I'd been to Mt. Rushmore once before with my family way back in 1996 and my only memory is from the family photograph we have so visiting it again was pretty cool and I felt fairly patriotic. It didn't take long to complete our visit so by early afternoon we were already heading out to find our campground in the Black Hills. We also tried to visit Jewel Cave but unfortunately all the tours were sold out. It worked out though and we spent a very relaxing evening in our tent and caught up on much needed sleep.

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