Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mt. Rushmore and Wind Cave

We started out our next morning, July 3rd, by going to Mt. Rushmore.  It was packed!  We heard the next day, July 4th, that they had to close Mt. Rushmore because there were so many people and there weren't enough parking spots so we are glad that we went on 7/3!  Because it was around Independence Day they had some special things going on at Mt. Rushmore.  They had various bands playing throughout the day and they had impersonators of the 4 presidents on Mt. Rushmore.  We were only able to see Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson.  Natalie was very disappointed because she wanted to see the other two but they were on their lunch break and we didn't want to wait around until after they were done.  N2 did the junior ranger program and learned all about the presidents and the carving of their faces.  We also learned that Gutzon Borglum was planning to have a hall of records behind Mt. Rushmore and that people could walk the steps up to it.  That idea didn't really get carried out but there is a hall of records back there.  You know, they should have includded that in the movie National Treasure 2 instead of having a lake back there!

N2 got paper junior ranger hats to wear which Noah wore the whole time.

 I liked getting close ups of faces with my zoom lens.  It was interesting to see how the eyes were carved and the George Washington really doesn't have nostrils like the other presidents do.

 Now this is a different Mt. Rushmore, isn't it, without George Washington!

We drove the Needles Highway down to Wind Cave after Mt. Rushmore.  This road was packed too!  We didn't get to do too much climbing because we had to be at Wind Cave for our tour-we made it with only a few minutes to spare.  Can you find Brian in the picture on the right?

Wind Cave was really cool because it was fairly narrow and twisted around.  There weren't big openings in the cave like in Mammoth or Jewel Cave.  There was a neat formation called box work which I can't say I've ever seen before.  Wind Cave is the cave with the most box work.  Noah fell in love with it and drew it all over his junior ranger book.  You can see the box work in the first and second pictures here.

 We decided to head back to Mt. Rushmore to see some of the events in the evening like the military band and the lighting of Mt. Rushmore.  It wasn't really worth waiting in the line to get in the parking lot for 20 minutes but oh well.  We drove the Iron Mountain road back to Mt. Rushmore where you are supposed to be able to see Mt. Rushmore through the tunnels but it was the wrong time of day and we were looking into the sun.  Boo.  We did see some wildlife along the road: a herd of elk, a pronghorn and a bison (our second sighting of a bison).

We met up with Dan, Rachel and Chloe for the evening program.

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