Friday, June 6, 2008

Mount Rushmore

Visiting Mount Rushmore has got to be one of the most stereotypical American touristic things to do. I mention this because it's a bit of a drive to get to from, well, anywhere, but is nonetheless incredibly iconic. As once you're in Rapid City, South Dakota it makes sense to see if Mount Rushmore lives up to the hype, we drove out on a drizzly Tuesday morn to check it out for ourselves.

My impression: Mount Rushmore, unlike perhaps a few other stereotypical tourist haunts, is really kind of cool. First of all the sculptures are huge, and second of all the detail is done wonderfully (right down to the glint in the eyes), so it's very easy to admire for the work of art it is.
Here's a view from the loop trail because it's an angle of Mount Rushmore you usually don't see. The huge stone pile below the sculptures is actually from the extensive amount of blasting done to create the sculpture, which was done for the 150th anniversary of the United States (do the math!). About 90% of the work was done via blasting, incredibly enough, and the overall work was supposed to be much larger but the Feds cut the funds so we were left with what we see today. It happens...

Of course, Mount Rushmore was also noteworthy on this trip because it was here where our largest amount of drama occurred. After contemplatively admiring the mountainside, doing the little loop trail, and checking out the CNN cameras on site (this was the day of the South Dakota primary- aka the last Democratic primary, and my 4th state I've visited in recent months to have a primary!) my dad realized the keys to the car were no longer in his pocket. What?! There is a certain amount of anxiety that results when you realize you have lost the keys to the car somewhere within Mount Rushmore National Park, particularly when you are a bit stranded and it's an isolated spot to boot, so there was an understandable amount of worrying for a few minutes. Luckily however some Good Samaritan spotted the keys on the loop trail and turned them in to the Ranger Station after a few minutes so we were free to head on to Wyoming, forever doomed to make jokes about the car keys for the duration of the trip.

And this is good, by the way, because I think Wyoming is one of my favorite States in the Union. But I get ahead of myself...