Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mount Rushmore

Over Thanksgiving break Ben and I took a marathon road trip to North Dakota and back. I get it, believe me I do, not many people would get super excited about going to North Dakota but I was thrilled! First, I was stoked to cross it off my States to Visit list (ha ha, beat ya Dad!) and second, I happy to finally get to see where Ben grew up. He sees my hometown every day so it was great to turn the tables on him. On our way out to NoDak we stopped to visit some friends in Bozeman, MT (where is was INSANELY cold) and Deadwood, South Dakota (another state crossed off the list, woot!). We got into Deadwood late and didn't get much of a chance to sight see but from what I could tell, they like their bars, casinos and Christmas lights! But before we hit Deadwood we made a stop; one I'd been looking forward to for ages!

Now, I am a history teacher, which means I nerd out big time over things that most people find not at all or only mildly interesting. Ben knows this about me and on our never ending road trip he was kind enough to indulge one of my long time history nerd wishes and drove (only slightly) out of the way so that I could see Mt. Rushmore!

As soon as you turn into the parking area you've got a great view of The Rush as I've referred to it in class; makes it seem way cooler which makes me seem way cooler! Once you enter the park (and get past the rest rooms, cafe and gift shop) you walk through a kind of archway lined with all 50 state flags. It took us a few minutes but we realized that the flags were in alphabetical order. I thought this was a really fun and interesting touch.
The flag archway.

The view from the upper deck of the observatory. They had those old timey coin operated viewing machines to get an even better close up but we didn't have any coins on us!!!
I have to admit that I was expecting something bigger. I guess all those up close pictures I've seen over the years distorted my expectations. Nevertheless, Mt. Rushmore is still really impressive! Standing in front of the presidents I found myself a little overwhelmed at all the time, thought and effort that went into crafty this monument. It really is a feat of human ingenuity, determination and perseverance.
George's is looking pretty good!
In 8th grade we study American history from the time of colonies up till Reconstruction after the Civil War. One of the resources I use in class is a great mini-series that the History Channel did last year called America: The Story of US. It is an absolutely fabulous look at our country's history from the earliest colonies through modern day. If you haven't seen it I urge to watch it and soon!

Poor Abe, so streaky compared to the others. But I found that kind of fitting what with his upbringing.
Anyway, in one of the episodes (the title of it escapes me at the moment) they detail the creation of Mt. Rushmore and wow is it wild! Men in harnesses dangled down the side of the mountain and drilled holes into the rock, then they shoved sticks of dynamite into the holes and scampered away hoping to be out of range before thing blew up. While this totally makes sense giving the methods available at the time it's still crazy to watch and ever crazier to think that people risked life and limb to carve the faces of our presidents into the side of a mountain!!!
I love Teddy's glasses and 'stache! It's all about the details, right?!?
I think what struck me most of all about Mt. Rushmore was how wonderfully close the carved faces were to those of the real man. You won't get exact perfection but the likenesses are just so dead on. The skill and precision it takes to accomplish something like is wicked impressive (to paraphrase one of my favorite history teachers, Mrs. Lise Pinkham).

Even though it wasn't quite what I'd expected I was still awe-struck by Mount Rushmore and am so glad that Ben likes me enough to so seriously indulge my nerdiness. I doubt he'll read this but if by chance you wander by kind sir, thank you again!

So here it is; question time! Have you ever been to The Rush? If so what were your impressions of it? What other national monuments have you visited and which ones stick out the most to you?

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