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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mount Rushmore

We're here! In the ensie tourist town of Keystone, South Dakota. The downtown area looks like something out of an episode of Gunsmoke - OK, an episode with a wider main street, but there is a nice wooden boardwalk. But never mind beautiful downtown Keystone, there is the very thing we traveled here to gawk at: Mt Rushmore National Monument!

We were there our first night in Keystone, but it was raining and foggy and we just got a distant look see - quite impressive, even under rainy conditions. The first two photos continues to amaze me. President Washington sports tear stained cheeks. What got the old guy down? Uh... well, actually, it just rained.

Can you find George? 

Come on Georgie... can't be all that bad...
Really George, for an iPhone photo, it's not that bad!
That first evening we took a not-too-long drive to see another monument, an unofficial one, Crazy Horse.  The following iPhone photo is kind of pathetic. It was raining and we didn't even properly enter the place. All we could see was the face of Crazy Horse atop his incomplete mustang mount.

Wondering what you were supposed to see here? Check out the next photo I got off the net

The background is the current state of the monument - only Crazy Horse's face is completed.
In the foreground is the statue as it will appear in some undisclosed day of the distant future.
The following morning , we trekked back, for a closer look at the national monument. It is so completely recognizable, it's seen everywhere in advertising and popular culture. The monument itself has a great set-up. First you pay $10, which is good for parking at the monument, not just for a couple of hours, a day, or even a week - it's good for a full calendar year. Is that a bargain or what? Once parked you stroll down a long promenade.

Joann taking in the initial splendor of the Promenade

The Avenue of the Flags, features flags of all 50 states
The four fellows stood v. still for my shot here
At the end of the promenade, you find yourself facing a huge amphitheater, below you, and in the shadow of Rushmore. Every evening, a Park Ranger hosts the evening light up of Rushmore.
People lined up along the granite wall, just below which is the amphitheater

View of the Amphitheater below. If you look up, there's Rushmore!
Now, below that lofty view of Rushmore, to the side, are elevators that carry you down a level to the Mt. Rushmore exhibits.

The glass to the right overlooks the Amphitheater and a great
view of Rushmore. Above this level is the Avenue of the Flags
Mount Rushmore exhibits. Next door to this is a theater
with a showing on the construction of Rushmore's face
The exhibit explains how more than 90% of Rushmore was carved with dynamite!
And that last 10%...Well, talk about delicate work!

Alternate look for the mountain that was ultimately rejected in favor of the faces we all know and love.
My favorite carving is Teddy - I mean, there is no glass used,
but, still, you can see his spectacles - Bully!
For the afternoon, Joann went back to our hotel for some alone time, and I took off on an unfocused tour of the countryside. My conclusion... it is no wonder at all, why the Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota & Cheyenne tribes. The drive I took wound over hill, over dale ultimately ending up at the Custer State Park. 

Loads of stunning outcroppings dotted the scenery

The rock formations in the Black Hills often look fairly deliberate, if not a little naughty.

I was blown away by this incredible, one-of-a-kind log bridge, I got to drive both under and over!

Will not be forgetting this little bridge any time soon.
A little memorial highway marker, with stones, probably as old as Rushmore
Something that seems to me now to say, "Black Hills" is the numerous tunnels, bored through solid rock.

For some reason the tunnels are all squared off.

Here is yet another tunnel, and I take you for a quick ride through it.

Lovely grassy meadows in the vicinity of Custer State Park

The cutiest little South Dakota ranch

What a beautiful area is the Black Hills, and I only saw a teensy bit of it. Was terrifically impressed and hope to return and explore the area further in the future.

Last, but not least, I thought I should share this example of how Mount Rushmore has permeated the National consciousness.  HIT IT BOYS!

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