Mt. Rushmore

When NavyGuy and I drove back to Washington from Wisconsin, we took the “southern” route.  Our trip there was the northern route that took us through North Dakota and the northern half of Minnesota so we’d land in Minneapolis/St. Paul.  For the way back though, it made more sense to take the other option.  Since we were leaving from Madison, it made more sense to stick with I-90 across southern Minnesota and then South Dakota.  That way we got some different scenery, and a chance to stop near Rapid City, SD and see Mt. Rushmore!

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The Mt. Rushmore National Memorial is open every day of the year except Christmas.  We did not really think about the fact that we’d be visiting on January 2nd – and that for most people, this is not typical midwest-road-trip-national-park-visit time.  This worked hugely to our advantage because the park was essentially empty!  It was a little weird.  I’ve never been to a famous site, with no one else around.  It felt like we were getting a private tour.  We didn’t have to jostle with people in lines, or try to fight to get the best picture spots.  The viewing area was desolate.  NavyGuy and I each took turns sitting for our portrait with the men on the mountain.

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The monument is odd in that it looks both bigger and smaller than you expect.  I’m not sure how to describe that phenomenon.  (Also, it’s really cold at the monument on Jan 2nd… lots of wind and chill.)  We wandered through the visitor’s center.  It has large windows looking out at the monument, so you can check out the faces while you read about their history and construction.  I grabbed a few postcards and some scrapbooking supplies from the gift shop.

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I’m so excited to got off the highway to see it.  The monument is probably 30 minutes away from the interstate.  There is also the Crazy Horse Memorial a little farther down the road.  Had South Dakota been our destination, rather than merely another state we needed to drive through, I would have enjoyed going to see that as well.  I feel bad because I’m sure 95% of tourists only go to the presidents and miss out, and as a history teacher and lover, I hate feeling like I’m only hitting the “important” sites.  Alas – you do what you can do.

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Did You Know?
The figure of Thomas Jefferson was originally started on Washington’s right side.  After 18 months of carving the figure of Jefferson had to be blasted off the mountain and restarted on Washington’s left side. (From nps.gov).

 

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