South Dakota – Day 5

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse


Time: 9:30 AM

I woke early, made myself an excellent breakfast and prepared for the day. Another great day with the top down. We, you and I as taxpayers, have really invested some serious tax dollars in the Shrine of Democracy. The complex for the Rushmore Monument is nothing like most national parks I’ve been to. Beautiful marble and granite columns, walkways, a huge amphitheater and plenty of corporate funding projects to boot.

The trail to the monument takes you right underneath so you can quite literally look up the nose of any of the presidents. I think Teddie was the most intriguing to me right now. He was the outdoorsman and was really the founding father of the national park system.

From Rushmore, I diverted from plan and followed Route 16A. What a find. A road choked with corkscrew turns, tunnels and unique spots where the road splits into one lane sections and turnouts with long distance views of Rushmore.

I split onto a national forest road 783 and cut through to the Needles HWY. At first I was disappointed in it. The timber cuts made the view more like a messy child’s work of art. However, it eventually closed in around and I was driving among the granite needles. One of the tunnels was barely more than a crack in the mountain.

I learned the most on this trip from Crazy Horse and I took a few inspiring quotes with me. “Storytelling in stone” and I paraphrase…”Let me create something that can only be destroyed by wind and rain”. I am close but not exact.

I was surprised to learn that Crazy Horse has been under construction since the 1940’s. The sculptor spent the first five years doing the work on his own. He died in the 80’s and now his family continues the project. They adamantly reject any offers of federal support. It means there is no way to tell when it will be complete but it seems somehow right to me. If they took money from the government, then it would be a grotesque hypocrisy.

Tonight, I will return to Rushmore for the evening lighting. It’s my final night and thankfully the skies are clear. Tomorrow I am off to IL to see Addie and Mandy … by way of the Badlands.

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