mount rushmore, and the chronicles of carving heads in rocks.

after devils tower, we had eight days booked in custer, south dakota, which is sort of located in the middle of a lot of things we wanted to hit. one such thing was mount rushmore.

when we were on the road, this was always on isaac’s bucket list. i have no idea why. but when we were planning this sort of last hurrah summer road trip, we knew that it had to include mount rushmore.

i also have mixed feelings about mount rushmore. i get that america is pretty great. but we have had a hard time recognizing a lot of our shameful history. the land the mount rushmore is on was promised to the native american who lived on it, then taken back, and then we carved president heads into their sacred lands. it’s weird, at best.

anyways. we decided to knock it out first. and then we could get back to nature and stuff.

it was so weird and surreal as we walked up the stairs and through the massive gates and the four rock heads came into view. like meeting a celebrity. they are so iconic.

a lovely family took a family photo for us from the overlook spot.

i mean. it looks just like it does in the pictures. 🙂

since we are always looking to get the full blown experience, we took the 0.6 mile nature walk that goes down from the overlook spot and under the giant sculptures, giving different views as you walk along. i liked when we got a better angle to check out teddy roosevelt. we could even see his glasses.

towards the end of the nature walk, we stopped at the sculptor’s studio, where the scale model that was used to create the actual monument is located. you can see the monument through the window, which was sort of cool. originally, the plan was for the statues to include shoulders and torsos and even a few hands, but obviously that was scratched.

we attended a little ranger talk about the history of the monument, the artist who built it, and how it was constructed. pretty darn informative. it was also in this studio that some random kid came up to hazel and told her that she didn’t have to wear a mask and hazel cried. (it should be noted that at this point in our travels, masks were required for unvaccinated folks in federal buildings, like this one).

we continued along the trail, stopping at some other viewpoints, and then back to the main viewing platform area, stuffed with fellow tourists.

before we left, we were sure to get a photo with the new york and north carolina plaques and flags. and one last stop to pick up our junior ranger badges. despite this being the very park he looked forward to for all these years, isaac was a little grumpy once we arrived, and decided not to do the junior ranger book, so it was girls only on this one.

on the way home, we drove past the crazy horse monument, which is the lakota people’s response to mount rushmore. they are moving a little slower, relying solely on donations and visitor’s fees, and not government money. their vision for the monument is grand, and i am hoping i am alive to see it completed.

this is the hopeful eventual plan.

and some more drawings superimposed on the existing formation, so you can envision where things are going.

the most interesting part of the museum was learning about the man who designed and began work on crazy horse, Korczak Ziolkowski. once he was hired, he devoted his entire life to the mission, where he met and married his wife, who continued on the charge after he died until she passed away. they lived on site and we toured their home and extensive collection of art.

it was a full day of seeing and learning about giant rock sculptures of various leaders of our different people. but now we were ready to get back to nature stuff. 🙂

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