Rushmore Roadtrip

Mount Rushmore

It is with great anticipation I get to blog about our recent road trip to South Dakota and, more specifically, to one of America’s most iconic landmarks, Mount Rushmore. Leaving as always Friday afternoon directly after work we commenced our road trip northwards along I-25 to our Fort Collins rendezvous with Bobby, Sammy, Nash and Olivia. Once we were all on board our Suburban road train we proceeded north east through the state of Wyoming to South Dakota town Custer. Bobby had organised a beautiful log cabin for the weekend which was made all the more grand Saturday morning after being blanketed by evening snow. The pinball machine also proved to be a popular little surprise.

Adhering to the very thorough itinerary Bobby had very studiously compiled for the weekend, we set off Saturday morning to Rapid City in search of the 40 odd, life-sized bronze presidential figures scattered throughout the streets. After a few snap shots along side a president or two we paid a visit to Bear Country, a zoo for native animals so Nat could finally get a glimpse of a bear up close. This place was a zoo unlike any other I had been to before. The various wild life had free range only contained by cattle grids allowing cars to pass straight through the middle of the enclosures providing for a very close encounter.

Finally a bear sighting!

After the bears and lunch we headed up the road for a quick visit to the Cosmos Mystery area where a supposed anomaly in the earth’s gravitational field accounts for a number of strange observations. Tennis balls balancing on seemingly non-level ground, people growing and shrinking in height, all of which was nothing more than optical illusion.

Following the myth busting we finally made our way onto the main event, Team America Head Quarters. I’ve got to say seeing the four 18 meter high president’s heads in person was a fairly impressive sight which gave you an immediate impression of just what a monumental effort it must have been to carve the figures out of the granite mountain side. The monument depicts the first 150 years of American history through the faces of some of the most influential leaders the country has seen. From left to right we have George Washington the first president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson a visionary largely responsible for expanding America’s territories via the Louisiana purchase, followed by Theodore Roosevelt who linked east and west via the Panama Canal and, finally, Abraham Lincoln who is renown for the emancipation proclamation.

Needles Highway scenery

As the sun set we plotted a course back to Custer via the spectacular Needles Highway. The drive no doubt would be a scenic drive any time of year, however, the recent snow provided for some stunning photos casting a vivid contrast of white on the rocky structures, we also caught a glimpse of a wild Buffalo.

Sunday saw us move onto the next monument called “Crazy Horse”. Inspired by Mount Rushmore, Indian elders approached Polish sculptor and Korczak Ziolkowski in whom had assisted in the Rushmore project, to construct a monument to honour one of their prolific war chieftains “Crazy Horse”. Crazy Horse was an Indian War Chief who took up arms against U.S federal government advances on the territories of the Lakota people. Before being stabbed and killed by a US military guard after surrendering he successfully led his men to victory in the Battle of Little Big Horn. The monument is 100% privately funded and, whilst construction began way back in 1948, Crazy Horse’s head is the only completed section of the monument. Following Ziolkowski’s death his large family has taken upon the responsibility of finishing their father’s life work. I’d be surprised if it is completed in the next century.

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