Friday, September 24, 2010
Bright sunshine welcomed the four of us into the Great Room for a tasty breakfast and a lovely mountainside waterfall view. What a way to start the day!
We then set out for the classic American icon, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, via the Iron Mountain Road. The highway winds through the lush natural beauty of the Black Hills.
The icing on the cake was three tunnels, carved out of the mountain rock, including two that frame Mount Rushmore perfectly.
The grand memorial was truly spectacular when viewed from across the valley. It was surreal to look across such an expanse of forest and see the heads of our presidents embedded in the mountain. We etched the vista in our minds at every turn.
Once we arrived at the Memorial site, it was interesting to watch the faces of people as they approached the monument through the Avenue of Flags. How did our faces look? We enjoyed a few quiet moments standing on the terrace facing those stony visages.
Then we headed to another deeply meaningful effigy, the Crazy Horse Memorial, whose mission is to “honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians.” We couldn’t come up with better words to explain what we wished to do while visiting this memorial.
Crazy Horse is a massive work-in-process and we felt fortunate to see it in its formative stages. We look forward to seeing the completion of this great tribute and artistic masterpiece in our lifetime.
The most unexpected and appreciated part of the memorial site was its museum and exhibits about American Indian art, history and culture. The collections and displays, as well as the orientation video and sculptor's workshop and studio, were enlightening and inspiring.
With our heads and our hearts full, we headed back into the Black Hills via the legendary Needles Highway. Words cannot begin to describe our awe as towering rock formations and spectacular views unfolded around us.
At the summit was the Needle's Eye formation; we all agreed that this was a singularly incredible place, like none other we've seen.
As dusk settled in, we headed to the Blue Bell Lodge and the Tatanka Dining Room for dinner. (Tatanka is the Lakota word for "buffalo"). We had an excellent dinner beside the great stone hearth in the log dining room, surrounded by spectacular wildlife mounts.
It was a fitting end to an extraordinary day!
-- Ted and Laura, Bruce and Kimberly