Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Days 18 - 19: Four Dudes and Some Needles

Our very first stop in South Dakota was the RV place, to get a new vent cover to replace the one that blew off the day before.  We drove through the Black Hills National Forest (our original destination) to get to Rapid City.  However annoying it is to retrace your steps, we had to do it. 
We were in the car for a long time.
Kipper's bored.

After we got Le Tigre all patched up, we found a cute campsite in the middle of the Black Hills called…..
We found out later that this is NOT the Horsethief Lake campground we were looking for, but it worked out all the same.

We exercised Kipper and went to bed.

The next day, we went to Mount Rushmore.  Our first view was just of Washington's profile through the trees.....

.....and we saw our first "real" wildlife (besides racoons, squirrels, and deer) of the trip!
Rock star

tee hee

Two profiles of granite

Then we got to the real deal.

(obligatory self-portrait)

The history of the place is pretty cool.  I didn’t know that 90% of the sculpture was done with DYNAMITE!!!  And that the monument was actually supposed to be busts of the four presidents down to the WAIST!!
Mock up of original idea.  This is about 20 ft tall.  Every inch of this equals a foot on the mountain.

 Look at Washington.  They started to blast out a coat on him – you can see his lapels.

They had to stop working on the monument when WWII started.  Check out the rough area to the right of Lincoln’s head and around his chin.
If you look closely, you can see that there are rough areas around the whole thing.  So basically, one of the most recognized symbols of America is unfinished!  It's still incredible.

BTW, this is the Horsethief Lake we were originally looking for. 

It has shimmery sand from all the granite in the area.

 It’s super close to Mount Rushmore, so we went there afterwards and gave Kipper some exercise. 

That evening, on the way back to Mount Rushmore for their nightly lighting of the monument, we drove Needles Highway, a winding road through a part of the Black Hills with weird stone formations that somebody thought looked like needles.   
There were tunnels….

…..and needles……….

…..and vistas……..

…….and a little part of the highway called a pigtail, because it loops back in on itself.  I don’t have a picture of that but it looks like a roller coaster.   Funny road.

The lighting ceremony was cool.  It made me feel all patriotic.
All those people on stage are serving or have served in the US Armed Forces. 
 That's a lot of folks.

P.S.  The other monument around here is Crazy Horse.  We saw it from the road and it's is admission!  The entire Mount Rushmore carving could fit on Crazy Horse's outstretched arm....


  1. Wow Ang!! What great notes and pics ....thanks for sharing :) I feel like I'm there...but I'm here...and it's freaking 103 every day. Miss you and give Greg and Kipper a big hug from your Thanksgiving Miracle and Ernie ;)

  2. Hey guys, Pretty amazing stuff. Thanks for keeping us posted. I was sorry to miss the b-day crawdaddy fest but I had kiddos that day. I'll have to get caught up on your other posts. Happy trails! -E