Mount Rushmore

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And we ended our second day in Rapid City at Mount Rushmore…

“There are many ways to draw inspiration  from one of the nation’s most consequential and enduring patriotic symbols- Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. Just consider- the work of this massive carving, the largest monument in the world, was accomplished during a time of great national challenge and hardship- the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Between October 4, 1927 and October 31, 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the colossal faces of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 150 years of the great experiement in democracy that is America. What many might consider America’s greatest challenge- World War II- was still ahead, and the years to come would bring a full measure of triumphs and tragedies.

Yet today the four “great faces” continue to greet each dawn with pride and glory- an image mirrored on millions of visitors’ faces who come away from the monument  with their patriotism revitalized  and their senses refreshed by the serene and beautiful surroundings.

The mountains eastern orientation and its smooth granite face  caused Borglum to conclude he had found the perfect site for his visionary undertaking. Yet Borglum faced monumental obstacles  in pursuit of his dream. Harsh winters and inadequate funding often stalled progress. In fact, Mt. Rushmore stands not only as a rock-solid reminder of our national pride, but as a monument to the patriotism and stubborn determination of a sculptor and the local crew of miners  he guided into carving a mountain into one of the wonders of the world.

Today, the astonishment of the mountain reverberates through every visitor.

The faces of the four presidents tower 5,500 feet above sea level and are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall.”

We began our visit with a stroll down the Avenue of Flags,

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on our way to the Grand View Terrace, where we were greeted with this spectacular sight:

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Then we began our hike. Beautiful forest surroundings welcomed us as we walked along the Presidential Trail, which offered the closest viewpoints of the presidential faces. We walked the planked walkway that looped around the base of the monument.

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The view from below gave us a new photography angle that Tyler dubbed: “snot shots.” 🙂

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The walk was beautiful and serene.

After circling back around to the Grand View Terrace, we made a stop at the ice cream shop before we found places to sit for the lighting ceremony.

We learned that in addition to Thomas Jefferson being the principal author of the Declaration of Independence he also happened to be the creator of the first ice cream recipe in America.

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And at Mount Rushmore ice cream shop they just happened to have T.J vanilla ice cream for sale so we were able to try out this 200+ year old recipe for vanilla ice cream as we sat in the shadow of his monument, waiting for the lighting ceremony to begin.

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“By far, the most spectacular program at Mount Rushmore National Memorial is the evening program held in the amphitheater at dusk. A ranger introduced  the 20-minute movie about Mount Rushmore . Then, with the tune of the “Star Spangled Banner” playing in the background , huge floodlights lit up the faces of the monument in a spectacular reveal, stark white against the black Dakota sky.

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That is when our hearts swelled with patriotism- and a renewed dedication to our nation, and its founding principals of democracy, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

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God bless America!

Next Stop: Devils Tower, Wyoming

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