Friday, 3 July 2015

Day Three - North by Northwest

After the previous night's storm, the morning was bright and sunny.

The view from the upstairs balcony
The view from the lodge was spectacular and on the ground outside,we were able to watch a chipmunk scurrying around close to the lodge looking for food.

After breakfast, we set out to visit Mount Rushmore. At one point, we saw a crop duster but this one really was dusting a field, so we did not have to run and hide like Cary Grant did in the movie.

A distant crop duster

Maybe I was wrong, it's coming in for the kill!
Ok it was just turning, so we live to see another day.   Mount Rushmore is south of Rapid City, close to Keystone and as you approach, you start to see glimpses of the stone faces carved in the mountain.

This is one place I have had on my bucket list more or less ever since I saw the movie North by Northwest when it was released in 1959. From the movie, I learned there was a place called Mount Rushmore with these ex-president’s huge faces carved into it. So for me it was a quite a high when I actually stood there and saw the reality.   It is impressive and I am glad I have lived long enough to get it off my bucket list.

The concourse leading to the statues
The photo everyone takes

Now for the next three hundred or so items on my bucket list, but I don’t think I will get into orbit unless the cost goes down and the reliability goes up.

One of the things that impressed me was the way they had made the highlight on the eyes.  It looks as if there is a glass eye in the stature, but when you look closer, you can see it is a peice of rock carefully carved to give the effect of a hightlight.

We ate lunch at the visitors' centre and I bought a souvenir baseball cap with a Mount Rushmore badge on it.

Whilst we were eating, several chipmunks came up and scoured the ground for tit bits. They were quite shy and very fast, but would quickly retrieve something dropped provided it was not too close.

Not too far away, close by Custer City is the Crazy Horse Monument, so having spent some time at Mount Rushmore, we decided to give this new monument a visit. This is being built as a single figure to represent all the Native Americans' heroes. The end result will look like this.
A model silhouetted against the mountain
They are currently working on the arm and horse's head and it will be several decades before it is completed.

 It is considerably larger than the four faces on Mount Rushmore, but the sense of size is lost since you can only see it from a distance. However, this picture gives you some idea of scale.

The construction machine on the right gives you a sense of scale.
It is being funded by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation which is privately run and self funding. It was conceived in 1948 and has a long way to go yet before completion.
Before we left, I bought a Crazy Horse souvenir baseball cap.

On the way back to the lodge, we took the Wildlife Loop Road around Custer State Park. Here you can see buffalo, deer, antelope, prairie dogs and the Begging Burros. The so called Begging Burros are donkeys that have gone wild in the park, but who will come up to any passing car begging food.

On entering the park there is a sign telling you that the animals in this park are wild and you should keep your windows closed, but feeding the Begging Burros has become such a strong tradition, people come especially to feed them and even get out of the car to do so.

There were a number of adult buffalo and a lot of calves roaming around with them but, wisely, no one was feeding the buffalo.

Well only the mother buffalo
We saw some some prairi dogs and also caught a glimpse of a pronhorn antelope in the distance.

Leaving the park, we went via the Iron Mountain road which is billed as very scenic and quite tortuous, consisting of hairpin bends and loops where the road crosses itself on a series of tightly curved flyovers. What we did not know was that the road was being resurfaced and at one point, they had provided a pilot car to lead convoys of traffic through the works and ensure only one flow of traffic was taking place at any one time.

You can just see the amber light on the pilot car centre right
Nonetheless, it was very picturesque if a little slow since we had to wait for the opposite convoy to arrive before we could set off.   After we had been escorted by the pilot car to the end of the road works, the road went through two very narrow tunnels.

One lane? They ain't kidding!
A second one lane tunnel

From the exoit of this tunnel you could see Mount Rushmore, once your eyes and camera had recoverd from the change in light. 
You can just make out one of the heads in this picture.  Much easier to see in real life.
After this we made our way back to the lodge in Terry peaks through some really nice countryside.

A wall decoration in the lodge
That night back at the lodge, we had another heavy thunderstorm and a lot of rain, but the next morning the weather was fine once more.
Next post day four

1 comment:

  1. So glad you got to cross Mount Rushmore off your bucket list, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if you ended up in space - if only in your dreams!!

    Those hair-pin roads and one way tunnels would not have made me a happy camper.