Friday, 26 July 2013

Wild West Road Trip - Day 4

The Spectacular Mt Rushmore

Day 4 - Mt Rushmore, Keystone & Custer State Park - 16th July

We were up early and on our way to Mt Rushmore, it was a good drive out to Keystone, the little town at the base of where Mt Rushmore is. We decided we'd stop at Keystone once we had been to see Mt Rushmore, so onto Mt Rushmore we went.

On the drive up to Mt Rushmore, you can see it from a distance, which just gets you excited to see it closer, and the entrance fee was free, but the parking fee was $11, not bad considering it was valid for one year.

There was a lovely walk up to the monument, called The Avenue of Flags which connects the concession building to the Grandview Terrace. The walkway is lined with the official flags of the 56 U.S. states, territories and districts, arranged in alphabetical order.

Then once you are passed the states flags, there it is upon you, this awesome monument, 4 Presidents heads carved out of the rock by Gutzon Borglum and as said by Gutzon "The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. "

And a really bizarre interesting fact too, is that President Jefferson (the principle author of the Declaration of Independence) was the author of the first Ice Cream recipe in America and to this day they are still making ice cream at Mt Rushmore using this recipe and of course I had to sample some history by having one.

Jefferson's Ice Cream

After our ice cream and it was rather delicious too, we walked around The Presidents Trail, which took us down and around Mt Rushmore, it was a lovely short walk, with fantastic views of the monument

Looking up to Mt Rushmore
Exploring a Tee Pee

The walk/trail around and under Mt Rushmore was great, we got to explore some tee-pees and learn about the rocks that are found nearby and just enjoy the walk.

Near the end of our walk - nearly a full circle

The walk was quite short and under each President it gave some information and history about each one, which was great to read. There was also a small visitors centre, that showed the equipment they used to carve the heads into the rock - it was all quite fascinating really.

The next face on Mt Rushmore....
Family Photo at Mt Rushmore

All in all we must have spent a good 2 hours there, there is lots to do and see - it was such an interesting place and well worth see.

As we were there a little longer than planned we decided to go into Keystone for lunch, it is a lovely quaint town and we found a saloon/restaurant called Ruby House, so of course we dined there for lunch.

After our lunch we decided to do the wildlife loop through Custer State Park, there was the possibility we'd see wild Buffalo/Bison, Elk, Pronghorn Antelope, wild burros (mules) and much more, so we were really pleased to see a herd of wild buffalo roaming around.

Just your average traffic jam in Custer Park 
Some Buffalo were HUGE

 We were really lucky to see a few herds of buffalo on the move, with their calves too, and it wasn't long before we came across some wild Burro's too (mules we commonly know them as) and these were not shy either.

 I kept my distance as I am not at all keen on horses/burros, but the girls we're delighted they could get up close to them and pet them, the girls followed them around for ages, it was had to drag them away.

Continuing on we also saw a Pronghorn, which is an antelope type of animal, but not classed as an antelope. we weren't lucky enough to see any Elk but we thought we did well with the wild animal spotting.

After doing the loop, at a spur of the moment (cos road trips are like that) we decided to go and see Crazy Horse also in the Custer State Park - know many of you may not have heard about Crazy Horse I certainly hadn't, but it is truly an amazing story and an amazing feat of one man.

That one man is sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, he and Lakota Chief Henry Standing bear officially started Crazy Horse Memorial June 3rd, 1948. The Memorials mission is to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of north American Indians.

Crazy Horse Memorial will be the World's largest mountain sculpture. It has taken over 60 years just for the face of crazy horse to be sculptured, and to begin with just one man, Korczak, worked alone on this, all without any government funding, to this day Korczak (now deceased) and his family have twice turned down a $10 million grant from the US government, stating if they took the money they were sure the memorial would never been finished. Instead, work is completed as and when the money is there, they receive lots of hardware donations (such as dymanite) as well collecting an entrance fee to see the work in progress, and they generate money from the gift shop, museum and restaurant they have onsite, as well as online donations, so it all helps with the continuation of the Memorial.

More help came for Korczak working on his memorial when he had his family and still today, most of his family work on and look after this very special monument - read more about it here as it is a truly inspirational story and you can read how the memorial came about and why Crazy Horse and the location was chosen.

It won't be finished in my lifetime but I would like to one day come back and visit it to see the progress.

Crazy Horse - you can just make out the face profile

So after seeing that rather spectacular monument in progress, we made our way back to Keystone and we took the girls on an Alpine slide to finish off the day and they loved it. It was great fun.

We had had such an interesting and great day out, one of the best so far.

1880 train, Deadwood and a Dinosaur Park all to come in Day 5 of our road trip

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