"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember,
and remember more than I have seen."
On Sunday, we attended sacrament meeting at an LDS ward in Rapid City, which was fairly near Storybook Island, a children's storybook themed park with free admission (thanks, Brian!), where we had planned to eat our picnic lunch. Unfortunately, they don't allow food and beverages inside, so we walked across the street and found a picnic table underneath a tree and ate there before we made our way through the park.
Storybook Island's mission, as stated on their website, "is to provide a free, safe, educational environment for those young in years, or young at heart, to experience the power of imagination."
It was a hot day, but we had fun roaming around.
After we got our fill of playing around, we set out for Devils Tower, which is actually in northeastern Wyoming, about an hour an a half from Rapid City, SD.
It really is a site to see, even from far away. Teddy Roosevelt designated Devils Tower the nation's first national monument in 1906.
The tower stands 865 feet high and is actually the core of a volcano which has been exposed for millions of years.
There are rocks and boulders at the base of tower which are broken pieces of columns that have fallen from the sides. It's kind of strange because there is a whole lot of nothing surrounding the tower. Just trees and land.
We walked around the base of the tower along the 1.3 mile "Tower Trail," Along the way, I was given the Native American name, "Shady Face." I bet you can guess why. Although the tower is open every day of every month of the year for climbing, the month of June has been established as a voluntary closure for all climbing routes on the Tower out of respect for Summer Solstice and traditional cultural activities of American Indians.
The voluntary closure has been implemented each June since 1996, and has proven successful: the average number of climbers in June has seen an 85% reduction. Despite this request to respect the traditional cultural activities of the Native Americans, people still climb. In fact, that day there were at least three or four people climbing. It definitely looked pretty intense.
Our country is chock-full of amazing natural geological formations. This was just amazing to see.
That night we planned to go back to Mount Rushmore to attend "the evening program" and see the monument at night.
We gathered in the amphitheater for a short patriotic program, with the monument in the background. Sitting behind us was a family with a little girl named Emery. She was about four or five and was very surprised (as was I) to hear that there was someone else named Emery.
At the end of the presentation, all members of the audience who had served or are currently serving were asked to come up on stage for the lowering of the U.S. flag. I was a little surprised at how many there were. There were over 50, I think. As they left the stage, they each touched the flag and spoke their name. their branch of the military, and what war (if any) they served in. There were veterans from every war since WW II. It was really moving. Even little Emery's dad got up on stage.
(Written July 13, 2013)