A few miles north of Valentine, Nebraska, just outside Rapid City, South Dakota, is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the United States, Mount Rushmore. Since we were “in the area,” we planned a day trip to see if it is really as impressive as we’ve heard. We were definitely NOT disappointed.
As we drove north, we were able to see lots of wildlife, particularly elk. The terrain transitioned from the rolling sandhills to a rougher, rockier landscape with considerable pine and other trees. As we got closer, we saw the monument being created for Crazy Horse . Known as the largest mountain carving located in the Black Hills, it currently displays the head of Crazy Horse and will eventually depict him riding his horse.
Our primary destination for the day, though, was Mount Rushmore. As we approached, we could see it but didn’t really get the full impact until we parked and walked to the veranda. This is a lovely plaza area with gift shop, concessions, and a walkway marked with flags of the states. All of this sits on one side, with a valley area separating it from the actual Mount Rushmore. There is an open-air theatre in the valley, and I could imagine how impressive a concert would be in that setting!
And then, there it is: Mount Rushmore! Each of the four heads is 60 feet high, carved into the edge of the mountain. Each of the four presidents represents such major aspects of our country: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. It was awesome to just stand there and look and “absorb” the moment.
It was also very interesting to people-watch. Thousands of bikers (motorcyclists) and international visitors strolled along the veranda, snapped photos, listened to the historical information being read over the loud speaker. Listening to the variety of accents and foreign languages pointed out the draw that this United States monument has to all, regardless of nationality!
When we left the national memorial, we drove on to Rapid City, where we made a short stop to see the truly amazing paper sculptures of Allan and Patty Eckman . The cast paper sculptures depict nature and Native American figures in intricate detail. I had read of them in an Email and welcomed the opportunity to see them in person. They are really quite beautiful, and I tried to fit one into my budget but…