If you happen to be in South Dakota…

This past fall we took the kids and headed north to the Black Hills in order to experience the colossal thing that is Mount Rushmore.  It was a great trip, and well worth a blog chronicle (several months late or not).  I highly recommend this journey… if you ever happen to be within 300  miles of South Dakota.  Just remember to pack a lunch.

Apparently, there is no fast food between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Rapid City, South Dakota.  Folks, that’s a long way.  Luckily, my husband had ‘forced’ me to make a picnic lunch so that we could save some moolah.  I am so glad he was right.  (even though I didn’t think so at the time – I confess, I complained about making lunches against my will at 6 am the morning we left)

The roadside picnic lunch was made more enjoyable with the wide-open Wyoming scenery.

Too bad, if we had waited a little longer we might could have had ourselves a buffalo burger in Custer State Park.

Yum.  On the other hand, this guy did not look too keen on the idea.

The monument itself is actually visible from miles away.  Here is our first shot of it:

I hope you can see it right smack in the middle of the picture.  This is still a good 10 to 15 miles away from the entrance to the monument park.

We decided to approach the mountain from the very scenic tunnel route.  There are three tunnels you drive through, and each one has a fantastic view of the carving right through it.  Here is the furthest tunnel:

And, here is the closest:

Are you thrilled to the bone yet?!?

Well, we really were.  Perhaps you have to see it to experience it.  Like this.

And this.

And, after hiking closer we got this fantastic view of Washington up through the crack of a cave.

And, finally our hike rounded off with the ‘family view’.

I will say that one of my favorite parts of the trip was walking through the American history with Caroline, who is old enough to begin appreciating the sacrifice and courage of the men and women who helped form our nation.  Personally, I often take our freedom for granted, and so it was a good thing to revisit the words of our founding fathers such as:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation….

We just don’t write like that anymore.

The kids were totally thrilled with staring at the 60-foot faces of our presidents carved into a mountain, and they would have insisted we stay even longer if we hadn’t made plans to try out South Dakota’s largest indoor water park….

It was a distant second to the monument in the ‘thrill’ category, at least for the grown-ups, but a worthwhile diversion nonetheless.

Waterslides aside, this trip was quite an experience – to drive through the western plains of Colorado and Wyoming, then the beautiful black hills of South Dakota, and finally to end up at this huge monument in the middle of nowhere.  It was just so…American.  It stirred up the place in my heart that belongs to a pioneer, and that I believe is part of the legacy of our founding fathers.  If you do ever happen to be in South Dakota, it is definitely worth a glimpse.

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4 thoughts on “If you happen to be in South Dakota…

  1. Michael Vaughan says:

    I had the privilege of visiting Mount Rushmore in 2000 on a big cross-country trip. It was a cool experience. I enjoyed your post and seeing the great pictures! 🙂
    I would just have added the phrase ‘and women’ towards the end of this sentence…
    “I will say that one of my favorite parts of the trip was walking through the American history with Caroline, who is old enough to begin appreciating the sacrifice and courage of the men who helped form our nation.” 🙂

  2. Visitor says:

    What an awesome trip your family had… If you are ever back in the area make sure to check out Rapid City’s new addition to downtown: Main Street Square, it has festivals, events, concerts, farmers markets and so much more! Also check out http://www.visitrapidcity.com for more information on what to do while in the area.

  3. tuckeredout5 says:

    We had a great dinner in downtown Rapid City, eating outside on a gorgeous night while watching the city move around us. That area does have a fun vibe – I would recommend it and would visit again!

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