The main purpose behind our trip to the Black Hills was to see Mt. Rushmore. This is something Sam and Nate have been asking about for over a year, and my memories here are so great that I knew it was something we had to do.
We started our day at the monument by hiking down to the Sculptor's Studio to hear a talk from a ranger about the techniques Gutzon Borglum used to create a massive sculpture out of a mountain. I still have a hard time getting my head around the fact that he was able to pull this off. We then took a hike on the President's Trail, which was not as challenging as the hike around Devils Tower. After our hike, we explored the Visitor's Center and exhibits some more (with the obligatory trip to the gift shop ... boy, I had forgotten how money has a tendency to burn a hole in a kid's pocket). Gina and I splurged on a Junior Ranger vests for the boys, which I have to say are very cool. They wore them the rest of the day with a little more pride than usual.
After a quick lunch at our cabin, we went to Rushmore Tramway Adventures to ride the chairlift and alpine slide. The view from the top was really beautiful, and the boys did great driving their own sled down the mountain. Nate was a little nervous about it, but he did great and was quite excited when he got done. We spent the rest of the afternoon in downtown Keystone looking in the shops and, yes, the money was still burning a hole.
We came back to the cabin for a quick rest after dinner, then we went back to Mt. Rushmore for the evening program. I had not seen this in quite some time, and it is definitely worth the effort. In fact, if a person were to go to Mt. Rushmore only once during the day, I would suggest going in the evening to see the program. The movie goes into more detail about each president and what he represents in the monument. The boys were mesmerized during the show. At the end they ask all people who have served in the armed forces to come down to the front, and each person states his or her name and branch of service. This was inspiring and moving for everyone in the audience, which must have been at least a couple of thousand people.
Suffice it to say, Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills have met, even exceeded, our expectations, and Gina and the boys are already talking about when we will come back. There is so much to see in our country, but I know we will make it back before long. The last leg of our journey will include the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park. You can see our pictures from today in our online web album.