Sunday, January 5, 2014

South Dakota Day 3, Part 1: Rapid City, Keystone, and Mt. Rushmore!

I was hoping to get the kids to guest post on our summer trip, but besides Ally I'm not having much luck with that!  So here's my quick run-down on Rapid City, Keystone, and Mount Rushmore.  
JFK & child
We stayed just north of Piedmont, a tiny town just a few miles out of Rapid City.  Rapid City is a really big town, probably 2nd biggest in the state, and it had some neat presidential "statuettes" along its main drag.  There were some museums there that we never got a chance to take in.  Maybe next time!

I think this was Andrew Johnson.  Funny how 5 months and a 5-second drive-by can blur your memory!
Besides the Badlands, we hadn't really seen big "mountains" up to this point on our trip.  This was Day 3, part one of our trip.  Day 1, if you recall, was driving out there and taking in Falls Park in Sioux Falls.  Day 2 was the Corn Palace, driving across South Dakota, and the Badlands.  The Badlands were awesome, but they were round stony "hills" in many aspects.  They weren't HUGE.   I had never seen a mountain before, but when we were driving outside of Rapid City toward Mount Rushmore, I had the feeling we were driving into the mountains.
Okay, this is starting to look like mountains!

Here's Keystone, a little town with a lot of commercialism.  Kinda like the Wisconsin Dells of South Dakota.
Now we're heading "up hill" and you can start to see the images of the presidents carved out of the Black Hills.....the excitement in our vehicle was literally building!
This was really cool.   After parking in a huge ramp and paying our fee to get into the National Memorial walking up these steps toward the monument itself was just really cool.  I guess you had to be there!
Stopping for a quick picture!  (squinting into the mid-morning sun)
Okay, thanks for letting us step into the shade for this one, Mom!
Time to head over to the big show!  This walk-through featured each state of the union on the sides of the pillars.  State flags.  Really cool stuff that makes you proud to be an American!
The photo doesn't show just how sparkly the quartzite was.  The rock in South Dakota is just amazing!
George, Thomas, Teddy, and Abe carved out of the Black Hills granite.  It was magnificent!!

I forgot the name of this rock, but isn't it fabulous?
There were hundreds of people visiting the memorial that day.  I guess it's like that EVERY day!
I took this picture from far away, but I tried to zoom in and show you the steps where workers did the carving.
National Park Rangers were on hand to help and teach about the Native Americans, the plant and animal life of the region, etc.

The memorial has several buildings to teach you about the whole process of the carving, including this one where you can see a smaller "practice model" that was used to refer back to while making the real thing.
Here's one of the winches used to lower carvers and dynamiters.....
and how would you like to ride in one of these seats down the side of a mountain??
The sculptor Gutzon Borglum was the mastermind behind the memorial.  Carving took from 1927-1941.  The thing that really impressed me was that Borglum was in his 60s-70s when he started this project!  We bought a book from one of the very few surviving workers, Don "Nick" Clifford who was 17 when he worked on the project.

We went back later that night to see the flag being taken down by visiting veterans (whoever was in the audience of the ampitheater who served our country).  Every American needs to see a National Park or Memorial to really appreciate the freedoms and creativity of our country.  Mount Rushmore was just awesome.  And a great backdrop for our Christmas card!


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