So it was time to greet the presidents!
We got there at a great time - they were about to do some routine work on the mountain (to deal with small cracks that develop due to the elements) and were going to be closing the walk of presidents - so we made it just in time to get around before the work began.
George Washington.... our founding father.
Abraham Lincoln - the president that held the union together during the Civil War.
Thomas Jefferson - he assured our land by doubling the size of the America with the Louisiana Purchase.
And Theodore Roosevelt - who secured the economic freedom as the "trust buster" and securing our natural resources with the start of the National Park Service.
At the base of the mountain, you see all the rubble that fell as it was carved. On some of the rocks you see the small holes - those were grid holes that were used in the original defacing of the rock.
One of the highlights of our hike around the mountain was that we got to see the "Rushmore Goats."
The goats are not natural to this area. They were actually a gift to Custer State Park from Canada. However, they escaped the park - and now live at Rushmore.
And we spent a good bit of time working on that Junior Ranger Book....
Another Jr. Ranger Badge!!!!!
To celebrate we indulged in a dessert created by a one of the men on the mountain....
Did you know that Thomas Jefferson wrote the first ice cream recipe in America????
Time to say goodbye to Mount Rushmore.....
And hello to Crazy Horse.....
After seeing the scale of Mount Rushmore, it's really amazing to see the Crazy Horse memorial in its "early" stages. This is a monument that has been under construction for quite awhile - but it's only source of funding is public. The tribal nations do not want money from the government that took their land (and their leaders) from them. This is a tribute of a mighty scale, filled with emotion.
Crazy Horse was a great way to end this part of our trip - it's wrapped up so much of what we learned about westward expansion (the good and bad) and how it affected the lives of those who lived here as our country began to expand.
The dream of the Crazy Horse Memorial goes beyond a carving on a mountain. This area is also a college for Native Americans, a cultural center, a teaching facility....
Once completed, Crazy Horse will be the worlds largest sculpture. To give you a comparison, the head of Crazy Horse's Horse will be 27 feet taller than the 4 heads on Mt. Rushmore. It's an amazing undertaking by a people who have a rich heritage that was sadly robbed from them on so many levels.