Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mount Rushmore

Well, hello there! So, right now I'm in France, chowing down on delicious bread and spee-keeng lah-eek zees. But, today, I'm sharing some photos from a good ol' American trip to Mount Rushmore. As you may or may not know, I was sent to North Dakota for a work trip a few weeks ago. I actually came home just in time to hop back on a plane to France. Anyway, while I was out west, two of my coworkers and I went on a road trip. We decided to head to Mount Rushmore and then drive through the Badlands, all in one day.
I'll be sharing the Badlands photos tomorrow, but I just wanted to show you our route and explain how we drove almost 800 miles in a single day. We're working in a tiny town called Beulah - it really is tiny but it's the 14th biggest "city" in the whole state, which I find fascinating. We all got up before the sun and met at 5AM, hopped in the car, and hit the wide, open, flat road.


If you've never been in this part of the country before, I just have to let you know that there is a whole lot of nuffin' out here. This part of ND (Mercer County) was mostly open fields, plenty of cows, open skies, v. few people, v. few cars, and mostly flat land. Once we got into South Dakota, we saw a bit of change in terms of the topography because we saw a few more hills.

For the almost six hour trip down to South Dakota, I made sure to have plenty of snacks. I got myself a container of Cap'n Crunch for breakfast and then made my way through a package of dried apricots, a bag of savory Chex Mix and a bag of sweet Chex Mix. By the way, if you haven't had the muddy buddies version of Chex Mix yet, you must. It's awesome.
So, though our drive started off in pitch black, once the sun started to creep out, this is the sort of stuff we saw:
I think it's incredibly gorgeous. It's just so different from what I know. Oh, and just to let you know, I didn't lug my awesome CSC with me so these photos are either from my iPhone of my little red Nikon point & shoot. And yes, I edited and filtered these photos with a little bit of a vintage, yellow-toned filter because I just thought it looked more appropriate, whatever that means. And let me apologize in advance for the sheer number of photos. I took so many and I had a hard time deciding which were the best ones so I just did a bit of oversharing.


Our route down happened to intersect Sturgis, so we stopped by that hog town and took a few photos with the wannabe Hollywood-style sign. This is a somewhat candid shot so excuse my weird double chin action. I'm mid-laugh because I was standing on tip-toe to make my way into the photo. That's what I get for being short, I guess.
Anyway, after a few snaps, we were back on the road. We skipped past Bear Country USA, which took a lot of willpower because I love bears, and finally came across four cool presidents, just hanging out on a cliff. By the way, it's $11 to enter the park in a normal vehicle (meaning, not a tour bus) and they take a photo of your car's license plate and tell you that you're allowed to come back in that same car for a year, which is pretty cool.
Did you know that President Jefferson invented ice cream? He's the coolest man. He's the coolest, man. Oh the power of puns and commas.
My birth state:
My state of residence:
Would you look at that? Looks pretty good, right?
Well, hello there, fellas! So, if you're unfamiliar with the story behind Mount Rushmore, I'll summarize it as quickly as I can for you. Jonah "Doane" Robinson (who got his nickname, Doane, from his sister who couldn't pronounce his name) came up with the idea to carve some famous people into the Needles in South Dakota to encourage tourism in the Black Hills. After a bit of discussion and debating, Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor, proposed to carve founders instead of trendy celebs (if those even existed back then). Borglum also proposed a sturdier cliff face, since the needles were softer and wouldn't be as workable of a material for sculpting. So, from October 1927 to October 1941, 60 foot tall versions of the heads of G. Washington, T. Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and A. Lincoln were sculpted into this rock right here.

About halfway into the work, a bill was introduced to also carve Susan B. Anthony's face alongside the guys but it didn't work out (because of monetary reasons). Hey, US Government! How's about we look at that bill again? I'd love to see a woman represented on that wall. I mean, women shaped this country too, right?
This trip was extra special to me because these are honestly some of my favorite presidents. I mean, who doesn't love George? I think we can all recall learning about his wooden and/or hippo teeth. My elementary school was called Thomas Jefferson School and the guy invented ice cream; COME on (said in the style of Gob Bluth). Bears are one of my favorite animals ever and hello, teddy bears are named after ol' Theo. And if you recall, I gave Abe a little smooch in Houston because I love him that much. This was an experience of a life time. Mount Rushmore is one of those sights you check off of your bucket list and even though it wasn't necessarily on mine before, I now know it deserved a spot on my list and I'm kind of embarrassed that I thought I was too good for it or something.

It's really cool how they made this happen, how they're preserving it, and how humans were able to integrate man-made art into nature. Right?
After ogling the presidents for a little bit, we hopped on the Presidential Trail.
Before you hit the trail, there are several signs that warn you that it is a strenuous trail. I didn't think it was overly difficult - I mean it wasn't difficult enough to warrant more than 5 signs with the word "strenuous" plastered everywhere. I suppose for kids and the elderly and the extremely-out-of-shape it could be a bit of a struggle but in general, it's pretty easy. There are a few stairs involved but most of the time, you're either on a smooth path or decking, which is comfortable to walk on. However, because of the altitude, I suggest you take it easy. I was out of breath most of the time.
There's also a cool little cave, which is actually a dead end, but you can peek out the little crevice and see a shot of George.
I thought these quotes by Borglum (the artist behind Mount Rushmore) and President Coolidge were awesome.
And here's the chronology of how it all went down:
By the way, don't ignore the forest and the rock formations. They're pretty cool too. There's a ton of pine out here. It's all coniferous forests, which is cool because I bet it looks awesome here around Christmas time, but to be frank, I miss my deciduous trees!
For those of you who like facts and science and history, you can head to the little museum. They've got displays that show you how the sculpture was made, how it's repaired, and blurbs about each of the presidents and the key players involved in the original construction.
Oh, and there's a gift shop too. This book was calling my name - because hello, I love bears - except I thought the girls looked kind of creepy and I was trying not to fill up my luggage with extra stuff (because even on work trips, I'm a carry-on-only kind of chick).
And no trip is complete without a smirking selfie, right? Excuse the chapped lips, it was a crazy windy day and no matter how much water I drank or how much chapstick I applied, my pout was super dry.
I almost forgot to mention! We saw these little weirdos (re: mountain goats) hanging out on our way out of the park. There were about five or six of them, but only two of them wanted to help me out by making a cute face for the camera. Aren't they SO cute?! I'm crying of laughter and happiness looking at these photos. I think these guys are so adorable. I wish I could've taken them home with me. I mean look at those smiles! My hearttttt!
So, that was my trip to one of America's national treasures. I'll be back in a couple of days to share my trip to one of America's natural treasures.

Cheers!

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