Sunday, August 05, 2012

Carved in stone - 3 August 2012

As the morning light is the best time to see Mt Rushmore so we motored the few miles to the mountain first thing. They operate a great con here for car parking. Top price is $11 for an annual car park pass which sounds like a terrific bargain until you find that it is for a calendar year - great if you buy in January and terrible if you buy at Christmas.
The other small problem is that it is the only pass available, so a day parking costs the same as a year! How many tourists return withing the same calendar year?

Nevertheless it is the only fee you have to pay to access the park and all the facilities and displays at the National Memorial so $5.50 each for admittance to a stunning historical site like this in the US is a good deal.

Seeing the faces "up-close" is quite awe inspiring. It is just as well that the mountain was carved when it was as there is no way the environmentalists would allow it these days. The eyes are amazingly clever and yet such a simple technique to bring life to the stone.

Having fully got our $5.50 worth we mossied on around some of the roads we travelled yesterday then cut through the middle of Custer State Park to visit the Crazy Horse monument; a work in progress rather than the not quite completed presidential monument.

This project is stunningly huge in scale and although only the head is completed it is still worth a visit. The visitor centre has heaps of information, artifacts, souvenirs and displays on American Indian life.

Mt Rushmore took 17 years to get to its current form before war stopped play in 1941. Crazy Horse began in 1948 and is still going with decades of work  yet to do. Mt Rushmore had a federally funded team of workers, Crazy Horse had one lone self-funded carver for many many  years working with old and decrepit equipment but is now funded by the visitor centre and some Indian Casino money so is making faster progress.

Being 3 miles from one and 9 from the other we had a decision to make as to which to return to for the evening light show.  We chose  the closest, Mt Rushmore and were treated to some entertaining trivia by a ranger followed by a stirring patriotic speech about Washington's "unborn millions" and the WWII US Japanese Regiment which I had never heard of and which served with distinction in Europe.
Then there was a film about the four presidents, the lighting of the monument, all very static - not a laser show as promised at Crazy horse, followed by singing the National Anthem and lowering of the flag and then all military personnel past or present were invited on stage and personally acknowledge for their part in defending freedom. It was all a bit 'maple-syrup' and I almost expected an "altar-call" to come forward and sign up or take the oath of allegiance.

50 miles today, total trip 3226. States, South Dakota

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