*Length warning- this post is rather long...
Well all, I finally did a pretty huge thing on my bucket list - I went to Mt. Rushmore.
The whole idea started with National Treasure 2 - Caryn, Lisa and I were all watching it and all of a sudden I said, "I've always wanted to go to Mt. Rushmore, but my dad didn't want to and so we never did as a family. He said there wasn't anything else to see around there and he didn't want to drive forever just for Mt. Rushmore."
Caryn turned to me and told me it was the same way for her in her family.
"Me and my roommate were going to go there Spring Break, but it never happened," Caryn said.
"Let's take a trip there sometime soon," I said, rather spur of the moment.
"Done," Caryn said.
Sometimes these kinds of things get talked about but never actually executed - and I thought this might turn out to be one of those things.
I sometimes get bored at work, and subsequently, one day I looked up what kinds of other things there are around Mt. Rushmore. I was a little surprised to find hot springs, a giant maze, paint ball, rock climbing walls, go-karts and horseback riding. We also figured out that Mt. Rushmore was about 9 hours from West Jordan - and actually started planning the trip.
The only problems came the week of: namely, Caryn's car breaking down, my car not getting the tune-up it needed and no one being able to go with us.
It was looking grim until Caryn called her sister, Adriane, who not only would let us borrow her car but wanted to come with us, too.
We left Friday night at 7:30ish and drove our brains out - switching every two hours until we got into Casper, Wyoming at 3 a.m. - which was not to be our last visit there. We got off the freeway about then, and since we hadn't really planned on staying the night there, we didn't know where to go.
Joy. So, there we were at 3:30 a.m., driving around, checking hotels in Casper, Wyoming, feeling cranky and tired. Finally, we caved and stayed in the Holiday Express Inn, which was like $130. Dah! Who knew rooms could be so durn expensive? I now understand why my dad never wanted to stay at a hotel. Yes, yes, I know - I admit it.
We decided to get directions from the hotel at the "business center" and promptly were on our way to Hill City, South Dakota, to our KOA campsite.
Lots and lots more driving later, we were there. Or, at least, we were pretty sure we were there - we drove past it before we realized we had missed the turn-off. After turning around, we saw the men on the mountain - which was my introduction to Mt. Rushmore.
The Park was amazing - we started out in information, where Caryn and Adriane decided they wanted to become Junior Rangers. I decided I did not - mostly because my siblings had to do it at many national parks they visited, and I rebelled where they could not. :)
We started in the hall of flags - every flag of every state in the good ol' US led the way to a great overview of Mt. Rushmore. We took our first pictures with it here.
Then, somehow, hot poses started...
Then it was time to go to the museum, with all sorts of facts about Mt. Rushmore and the presidents and the sculptor who dreamed it up. We watched a 13-minute movie on it - and I correctly guessed that it was Tom Brokaw who was narrating. Boo-yah!
I was pretty much amazed at all that went into carving four presidents on the mountain. I guess I never really thought about what it would take, from the conceptualization to the actually blasting: 17 years. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had a vision about making presidents he viewed as the founders and shapers of the nation immortal in rock - he was an incredibly dedicated, well-thought out man. He actually died before he finished it completely.
90% of the rock removal was done by dynamite - which I thought was pretty cool.
This is a to-scale picture of an eye. It was slightly creepy...
From there, it was time to "hike" around the base of the mountain. And take more pictures.
At the end of the trail was the sculptor's cabin - where it had the scale model they used to carve the mountain. It was closed, but you could kinda see in if you blocked the light out. We were sad it wasn't open.
Then it was time for Caryn and Adriane to get sworn in as junior rangers and get souvenirs. My favorite were mugs with "Mt. Rusmore" on them, although the Mt. Rushmore pocketknives were also hilarious. Hee hee...
We then ran to the Black Hills Maze - thinking we'd have a good two hours to get lost in the maze before they closed. Except they looked pretty much closed for good - with a fence and everything.
We were sad.
So, instead we drove farther in Rapid City and found a place to eat called Firehouse Brewing Company. It has amazing food - like awesomely amazing.
And we got plastic fire helmets.
It was time to go back to our campsite, get nice and fire-smelling, almost set the tent on fire, watch part of X-men before my lappy died and turn in for the night.
We awoke to fire-toast, courtesy Adriane and the grill attached to the fire pit, and hilarious neighbors on a month-long cross-country trip. We packed up and headed to church in Casper, Wyoming.
After church we went to On the Border - a pretty good Mexican place that they don't have in Utah, but they do have in Texas, where Adriane lived for awhile. Except the service pretty much stunk - Adriane didn't get her order correct initially and even after an hour, had barely received the correct food. We were all kind of razzled at that point, and therefore didn't blink twice before deciding to go north on I-25.
Yeah- big whoops. About Buffalo, Wyomingish, we realized our folly and turned around. We'd already lost an hour and a half, so three hours round trip later, we were back in the hated Casper, filling up yet again, anticipating another good six hours to get home.
Of course, it's this time some deer decided to cross the highway - three at the same time, right in front of me driving. Ah, slamming on the brakes. Thank the heavens for anti-lock brakes.
After that, Caryn and I talked for the rest of the time, in between listening to music on my iPod and trying not to fall asleep.
I finally got to sleep about 1:30, safe and sound in my own bed. And thus ended the Mt. Rushmore adventure.