Today was the day! We visited the two main attractions on our list—Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse statue. We also took time to see an 1880 Railroad Museum (very Strasburg Railroad) and explore downtown Hill and Rapid cities on foot.
The size is impressive—when finished, the statue will be larger than any other manmade construction, including the Egyptian pyramids. I sent pictures to my mother who, for years, has talked about wanting to visit and picked up a piece of the statue for a colleague of mine who collects rocks from important places (the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, etc.)
We discovered from the landmark’s 20-minute film that no federal funds will ever pay for work on the statue, as the sculptor (now deceased) and his family were afraid that the government would never finish the job. The sculptor, who lived in a tent for three years before building himself a cabin, married a woman and raised 10 children with her (in that cabin!). Most of their children now continue to work on the project.
Mount Rushmore—those four presidents in the sky, carved into the Native Americans sacred Black Hills, sending tourists into a tizzy to get a flattering picture taken with the statue in the background, to prove we were really there—is not as crowded as Disney, which is always good, and not as commercialized as a beach town. But, the money-making emphasis is still evident. Jordan and I, in an attempt to avoid the chaos, embarked on a walking tour around the monument. This hour long endeavor taught us all we needed to know and left us with some time to grab a fabulous lunch back in Rapid City at the Firehouse Restaurant.
I have found them to be one of Jordan’s go-to stops. When he was a child, the Borders bookstore that used to stand across from Park City mall was truly our place. The staff knew us by name and my kids knew that once a week, they could each buy a new book. Jordan now regularly recreates this tradition in every town and state he visits. He says he also does it frequently while in Europe, even though the books are most often in a language he cannot read. Being surrounded by literature is what brings my son comfort.
I am, admittedly, very tired.
My mind is not sharp, and as we yet again plan for our next leg of the journey, this time to Iowa City, I wonder—if I had been along on the real Lewis and Clark expedition, when would I have cried “Uncle”? Though I love to discover new places, talk to new people, and learn new things, I am, by nature, a rooter. Even when I have traveled abroad in the past, I quickly established patterns—always eating at the same place for breakfast, purchasing the newspaper from the same store each day, and running on the same route, etc. London became my home in less than 24 hours. This mode of constant travel is doing me in. I am hoping an early night’s rest will awaken me for the next trying leg of our journey.
Iowa City, here we come.