Friday, October 31, 2014

Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse - Stilp Family Vacation: Part Nine of Who Knows How Many

We had one full day to do tourist stuff in South Dakota.  I would have liked at least two: one for the Badlands and one for the Black Hills.

Since we had been driving so much we opted not to backtrack to the Badlands and to spend our tourist day in the Black Hills visiting Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and the Needles Highway.
Walking into the park 
Mt. Rushmore up close and personal
family shot 
Katie taking it in
Mt. Rushmore exceeded expectations.  I don't think any of us planned to spend a long time there, but we stayed for at least three or four hours.  We did it all.  The gift shops.  Bookstores.  Museum.  Movie of the carving.  Exhibition hall.  Hiking trail around the perimeter.  Picnic lunch and multiple bathroom stops.  Took pictures galore.  It was really, really impressive on all fronts.  You should go!
Different angle at the end of the hiking loop
Curt and I were drawn to the Native American history embedded in this part of the country.  There were post cards, enlargements and posters of actual photographs taken of the prominent Native American leaders in the late 1800's when General Custer tried to take over.  I was fascinated by the costumes and the detail in photographs taken with such old equipment.  We bought an assortment of the photographs in various sizes and when we got home framed them and hung them on the wall as a gallery.  It looks pretty sweet.

The Black Hills were pretty, but Oregon has spoiled us.  We all thought our mountain ranges were more beautiful and majestic, but still loved being out of farmland and back in the mountains again.  We learned the Black Hills are called "black" because the dark evergreen covering looks black at first glance.

Crazy Horse Memorial - a sculpture being carved into the side of the mountain honoring the Native American culture - was just a few miles from Mt. Rushmore so we drove down to see it.  We were exhausted from spending so much time at Mt. Rushmore so we didn't stay as long.  The museum is quite a ways from the sculpture since it's still under construction so it's hard to get a feel for the scale and grandness of the project.  It's not that impressive... YET.
rendering of the sculpture in the museum part.
Crazy Horse was commissioned in 1948 by Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, to be sculpted by Korczak Ziolkowski.  Korczak has now died, leaving his  widow and crew of ten children to take over the project.  They are refusing federal assistance which means less funding and slower progress.  When (and if) they ever finish the sculpture it will be the world's largest sculpture and truly amazing.
What it looks like right now.
We took the Needles Highway through Custer State Park home.  It was one 15 mph curve after another and we didn't see any park wildlife except a deer, a turkey and a chipmunk.  And our children who were getting a little wild by that time in the day.  We all thought driving through the tunnels cut out of the rocks was cool.  Overall I think we would have enjoyed meandering down the Needles  Highway more if we weren't coming on the heels of a thirteen hour traveling day with another long driving day facing us.
on the Needles Highway
We saw a deer.  
It was a relief to finally make it back to our little cabin.  The kids played in the pool while Curt and I made dinner.  They came dripping wet from the pool, plopped down at the picnic table, and we ate dinner outside.  It was fun.
The laundromat is the white door.  Curt is standing by our door.
Grant and I capped off a sweet day with a walk around the nature trail by the resort.  I loved getting alone time with him two days in a row and hearing his take on all the cool historical sites we took in that day.
tired boy 
Another banner day in a vacation where every day was as unique and fun as the last.

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