So I promised pictures and have not yet delivered. Yeah, I know. I started back at the day job this week and have been running around after work trying to make everyone in m life happy campers (can you say codependent?) so I’ve not had a chance to sit down and download the pics. But I will. I swear. In the mean time, I’ll bore you to death with more about my trip.
Rushmore is the cliche family vacation spot, I know. The last time I was there was in 1989 and I was playing the lighting ceremony with the orchestra I was in at the time. We got there fairly early in the afternoon, so we got to run around for about five hours before the concert. It was my first time there, and I have to say, I was pretty impressed. I’d seen photos of the place, but to see it in person is actually quiet an experience. Kinda brings it home how much work that sucker took. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but as dangerous as the work was, not one worker died during the carving. It is amazing.
Since then, they’ve built a whole new visitor’s center, museum, etc. Gone is the restaurant from North By Northwest (which is where I ate in 1989, thankyouverymuch), but they have put in a new balcony that gets you so close to the mountain that son #1 thought he could touch the figures. Actually, there is a hiking trail that goes even closer, but we didn’t brave that this time around. We still have a 6 year old and it was already getting hot for the day.
Driving to Rushmore is a beautiful trip, and as we turned every corner everyone in the car got more and more excited. Me included, I must admit. We had a great time and the kids got to “blow up” a portion of the mountain in the museum’s interactive displays. They loved it. Souvenirs are overpriced (duh!), but it was an overall lovely morning.
Rushmore I highly recommend. Even if Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase without congressional approval.
We had lunch in this little tourist trap town called Keystone. It was a mining town in the late 1800s and has recreated some of that old feel, though now it seems artificial since everywhere you go there is a billboard for some other Black Hills attraction. We picked this little place on the main drag, though, and it was dolled up to look like an 1880s bordello. Fun wait staff, pretty good food, and I think son #1 found a ghost to talk to over lunch. Not bad for $22.50.
Crazy Horse Monument
Now this one I am going to put a qualifier on. I didn’t want to go in to Crazy Horse. I figured if we could see Rushmore for $8 a family (that’s for a year-long pass, by the way) that seeing Crazy Horse from the highway for free was a much better deal than paying $25 a carload (one trip only) was. But the husband told me how many people at work said it was even better than Rushmore, so we paid the exorbitant fee and went in.
Whoo. Color me excited. NOT.
Crazy Horse in itself is a good idea. The Lakota people wanted this crazy Polish guy (and I do mean he was a wack job) to carve a statue of their greatest leader into a mountain to help make up for the white people screwing them over a hundred years ago. It’s a beautiful statue of Crazy Horse on his horse, pointing to the lands where his people are buried. And they have this great idea for this whole campus area dedicated to educating people on Indian Culture.
Problem is they’ve been at this for 50 years and all they have is a head.
The excuse they use (and this would explain why if you want to breathe while you’re at the monument you have to pay for the air) is that they have refused government funding and are financed strictly by private funds. Okay. I get that. I think. But if the government wants to help you get this thing going, and after 50 years, the statue isn’t even a quarter of the way finished…
Maybe I just don’t get it.
They do have a nice collection of Native American artifacts and art, but what looked like a beautiful “spirit lake and waterfall” on the map of the place was shut off, so what you got was a big puddle of muddy water. Yick. Add to it son #3 getting nauseous from the heat, and Crazy Horse was a bust.
So would I recommend it? Well, it was interesting, that’s for sure. And if you like Native American art, you’re in like Flint, so if you have a hundred bucks or so you want to blow, go for it. As for me, I think that was enough.
On tomorrow’s docket: Cheyenne Frontier Days