Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Out West 2014: Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is not my favorite national park/monument/memorial/whatever. I'm pretty dubious, frankly, about the idea of messing up a perfectly good mountain by putting a sculpture on it, especially considering that the historical Lakota, from whom the Black Hills were stolen, would SO not have been okay with having one of their special mountains messed up with sculptures.

I also think that it's pretty low that the NPS does not charge admission to Mount Rushmore, but instead charges an $11 parking fee. Parking fees, of course, are not covered by the yearly national park pass the way that admissions are--way to get money even from passholders, y'all! You think I can't figure that one out?

However, if you're in the area, Mount Rushmore remains something that you've got to do, even just once:

And I admit that there's more to do there than I remembered from my childhood visit (childhood memory: we drove there, we looked at it, it was hot, we drove away). I should have brought everyone along earlier, so that we could have hiked, but nevertheless, yes, we looked at it--

--but the kids also, of course, worked on their Junior Ranger badges--

--and we saw rocky mountain goats!
Awww, look at her sweet, mountain goat-loving face!
 There's a giant amphitheater facing the sculpture, and that's where we hung out with a billion+ other people come sunset, because we all wanted to see the sculpture lit up at night. And oh, my lord, Syd was sooooo badly behaved here! She wasn't as badly behaved as the two children behind us, mind you, who were a misery to just have to listen to ("I'm bored!" "When can we go?" "Can I have ice cream?" "How much longer?" etc. etc. ETC!!!), nor was she wearing a complete Day-glo yellow short set with matching sweatshirt like the two children in front of us, but nevertheless, she wanted to go back to the museum and finish her Junior Ranger badge, but when I took her back to the museum she did not want to actually complete any of the activities for the badge, but instead just look at them and feign stupidity and confusion and cry about them (she was tired), so I took her back to sit in the amphitheater, but she did not want to sit in the amphitheater. She wanted to work on her badge! And so on.

Fortunately, once Matt and I had bravely tuned out her low-voiced kvetching, we had a nerdgasm's worth of nerdy evening entertainment. First, a park ranger came out and told jokes and riddles about the presidents, and THEN he gave a giant lecture about Constitutionality and the Founding Fathers' view of the Constitution--fascinating! And THEN there was a really long documentary that gave a biography of each of the sculpted presidents in turn, and then a history of the creation of the sculpture!

Syd was beside herself. I had a fabulous time.

Finally, we all got to stand and sing the national anthem (Have I shared with you before the Fact about Me that I LOVE singing the national anthem? I always sing when it's played, even if nobody else does), and they lit up Mount Rushmore for our wonder and edification:

We stayed afterwards to clap when the ranger called up all the current and former members of the Armed Forces to the stage, but sneaked out when it became clear that this was going to lead to the very drawn-out tradition of every single person on stage getting to introduce themselves and tell their service history (dood, there was a lot of military there!). I was very anxious about taking the kids over to the ranger to turn in their Junior Ranger books, because although Will had finished her Junior Ranger activities and was simply bursting to tell the ranger all about them (Will told her all about the sculptor's vision of light and shadow as dynamic forces, and the ranger had a big ole' conversation with her about that), Syd had not finished, and was looking very baleful, indeed. I told the ranger that she had tried her best, though (even though she hadn't, ahem), and Syd was able to tell her some things that's she'd learned, so badges were duly handed out and oaths duly administered.

I probably shouldn't have kept Syd up that late, honestly, just because I wanted to see Mount Rushmore at night, but we had a bit of a drive on the next day for her to keep resting during, and then we were at Devil's tower, and oh, my goodness.

Syd LOVED Devil's Tower.


Tina said...

First off, I think it is a private company that owns and operates the parking lot. Dumb if you ask me. I think there are some similar setups with the Grand Canyon. I think.

We enjoyed Mount Rushmore and it is the only Jr. Ranger badge Emma was interested in doing. I agree about messing up a perfectly beautiful mountain side though.

The evening ceremony sounds amazing. Might have to think about it next time we are driving through.

I'd love to visit it again but plan to spend the day (instead of an hour). Can't wait to see/hear about your trip to Devil's Tower.

julie said...

Now that we've gone the once, I want to go back again and go hiking! I wonder if they've got the same kind of boulder field as Devils Tower, due to all that blasting?


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