Friday, June 4, 2010

Visiting South Dakota - Day 1

I'm one of those, "make the most" out of your vacation kind of people. I have a short time, and a lot to see, so I'm going to hit as much as possible. Gene on the other hand, he'd prefer to lay back, watch some movies on TV and order room service.

I maintain he can do that at home. Guess who won?

As soon as we made it into town, we dumped off our suitcases at the hotel, then ventured out to Mt. Rushmore. Thank you TomTom for being my friend and not dead ending me, or trying to make me cross medians like you do sometimes.


We arrived there around 4, and they suggested approximately 2 hours to enjoy the park. To that I said "what?!" Stare at the mountain for 2 hours? I don't get it. We shot some pics, ventured into the gift shop full of shot glasses and overpriced t-shirts.

Tanner and I were on a mission to find the National Parks Passport because we wanted to start our stamp collection. We were sent back up the hill to the visitors center, which we missed. It was a good thing, because there were so many interesting things there! It was definitely educational, so if you don't like you none of that there learnin', you probably won't enjoy it.

However, I like to pretend I have a big giant brain, so I liked it.

Tanner, who is still developing a big giant brain, and a developing teenage attitude, not so much. But he dealt with it. (it's one of the benefits to giving someone life, you always have that card to play).


They had a film that demonstrated how the monument was constructed. Did you know that it was worked on for 14 years, by over 400 men, and yet was never completed? The sculptor died, and the onset of WWII halted production. His son, did some finishing work to the lapels, and such, but that was it.


They also showed how the monument was created using a pointing system (the hanging bob next to the nose). These are 1/12th scale reproductions inside the visitor center. Did you know that 90% of the sculpting was done with dynamite?

Did you also know that they were orginally supposed to show most of the upper torso?


This is from a fundraising item from 1927. This depicts the presidents with almost full torsos, and showing Jefferson's hand.

You can also see, each president here is not in order!! On the advert it's Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt. In the end it ended up being Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln. Apparently, Jefferson was started on the other side of Washington (the far left), but the rock was unsuitable so they blasted it off.

To the right, there was supposed to be a tablet, in the shape of the Louisiana Purchase, but I don't know if they ever decided what it was going to say. I know there was some controversy over the writing.

At one point, in 1937, legislation was presented that would have added Susan B Anthony, however that was shot down. Apparently it's a "boys only" club up there.


The dedication of Washington's face was July 4, 1930. I thought this was sweet, this old photograph with a firecreacker attached.


It seems there's a lot of controversy behind Mt. Rushmore. In particular with the Lakota Tribe. Basically, they are pissed. Mainly because the mountain was taken back after the Treaty of Fort Laramie where the Black Hills were given to the Lakota.

In return, the Lakota have given their blessing to another monument in the area being build called "Crazy Horse". It's in response to Mt. Rushmore, and is supposed to be much larger, and without any federal funding (they turned down $10M twice). When completed it will be the largest sculpture in the world. Apparently, some Lakota are pissed off about this one too. "Imagine going to the holy land in Israel, whether you're a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim, and start carving up the mountain of Zion. It's an insult to our entire being." (Russel Means)

Either way, we didn't visit Crazy Horse. Tanner saw a picture and said "ok I've seen it", as there's not a lot done, since it's beginning of work in 1948! It'll get there, they just need people it sounds like. At that time, I'll go back.


In the meantime, I felt the need to pinch a president's head off.

*it's not the first time*

We ended up leaving around 7 or so, which put us several hours there. The lighting ceremony starts at 9 p.m. and I didn't want to mill around for 2 more hours. With the purchase of the parking pass, you can come back as much as you want for a year (it's only $10), the park is otherwise free.

On Monday, Memorial Day, we did a lot of things, but one thing I really wanted to see was the monument lit at night. I offered to drive, to talk Gene into going back out there (it was about 20 miles from the hotel). I figured if they were going to do something special at Mt. Rushmore, it certainly would be on Memorial Day.


The one special thing they did, was inviting all the vets to the stage at the amphitheater. I had to talk Gene into going down (it's a long story), but he did.



There was a flag ceremony, which you can't help but get teary-eyed, thinking of how many times that's been done, and for what reasons.


Overall, I will say that the night ceremony was my favorite part of Rushmore, Gene was "meh" about it. I would love to go again some day, I bet it's awesome on the 4th of July, however, that might be a while (or the next husband) lol.


ceedeedee said...

I love Rapid City and Mt. Rushmore. It might be my favorite place in the world. 4th of July at Mt. Rushmore is incredible, but it's a massive crowd. We were lucky enough to meet one of the last living builders of Mt. Rushmore out there when I was 12 or so. Have fun out there!

Lana said...

There's still one alive! I can't remember his name now, but he was at the gift shop selling books that weekend. Quite an old guy. I didn't stop to talk to him, I didn't wanna feel obligated to buy a book. :/

Tracy said...

I love being a tourist and learning about all the historical sites. Luckily so does my family.
Beautiful photos.

gowestferalwoman said...

thank you for visiting Mt Rushmore and getting the "inside story" ~ Im glad you convinced Hubby to go up there ~ wonderful moments captured in your photos!

BTW? Weve never been there lol!

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