Wednesday, July 6, 2011

road trip 2011 - south dakota

we headed to mount rushmore late in the afternoon and had a very "fancy" early dinner before heading into the park.  mount rushmore was the top spot on the kids list of places to visit (hence the drive rather out of our way in attempting to get to chicago...), so they were very excited to finally be there.  and it didn't disappoint.  there is a surprising amount to do at this national park.  we kind of expected to walk in, look at the mountain and then sit around waiting for the night show.  there is a ton to do here, however.  i almost wish we had had more time.  jack loved all the museum aspects of it.  how it was built, about the workers and the techniques, about the different presidents and why they were chosen for the monument...  the history and the facts.  lucy had her favorite moment of the entire trip - becoming a junior ranger.  the kids are given a booklet they have to fill out based on things they see around the park and questions they have to ask the rangers (it took shy little lucy every bit of courage she could muster for this part) and when their tasks are complete, they hand in their work and are sworn in ("raise your right hand and repeat after me") and receive a ranger badge.  finn did this also, but for lucy it was her proudest moment.  and mr. finn enjoyed the trails you can walk around the base of the mountain.  lots of stairs to climb, paths to run down and rocks to climb on.  perfect release after hours on the road.  pete, al and i found the whole place to be rather fascinating as well.  after dark, they have a ceremony where one of the park rangers gives a little talk on freedom and what it meant to each of the four presidents represented on the mountain.  then they ask all veterans to join them on the stage as they take down the flag and fold it.  i couldn't believe how many veterans there were.  everyone stood and applauded them and it was all quite moving.  then they sing the star spangled banner and light up the mountain.  it all makes you feel very patriotic indeed.

jack was extremely interested in how they made the mountain and was fascinated, after learning the drilling technique they used to remove large pieces of rock (something about a beehive), that you could actually see rocks all along the base of the mountain with the lines and holes on them from this technique.

the next morning, the kids had a lot of fun at our camp site shooting arrows and playing tether ball.  even if the kid whose family was staying next to us informed me that his parents didn't think we were responsible...  thanks, kid.

for some reason, when we started out on this trip, i was determined to find a little diner somewhere that served pie.  good, homemade pie.  i did not find the little road side diner i had hoped for, but we couldn't very well pass up an establishment called the purple pie place.  a little more over-the-top in appearance than i might normally care for, their pies didn't disappoint.  they even had rhubarb plants growing out front with a sign specifically advertising their rhubarb pie.  jack got apple, al got blackberry and i got strawberry rhubarb.  they were all amazing.  and so i got my pie on our road trip.  even if we did eat it at 9:00 in the morning...

the next morning we headed to the crazy horse memorial with these two intense junior rangers...

i find everything about this memorial to be fascinating.  we watched the short film all about how they started the project and all about the man who was hired to head it up.  he came from new york, a well-dressed sculpture, hired by the tribe chiefs for this memorial and lived at the base of the mountain all alone.  in a matter of a couple years he had a long beard and overalls and barely resembled the young artist who was commissioned for the project.  somehow he met and married a young woman who agreed to move out to south dakota, just the two of them at the base of this mountain.  they had 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls who were all raised working on the mountain, cooking, cleaning and homeschooling right there.  7 of their 10 children still work on the project to this day.

oh, and we had a very intense license plate game running the entire trip.  by the end, i think we only came up missing a handful...

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