Friday, June 15, 2012

South Dakota and beyond. Day Two: Mount Rushmore and Jessie's Girl in Deadwood.

"A monument's dimensions should be determined by the importance to civilization of the events commemorated...Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away."
~Gutzon Borglum

Warning: Major photo dump is now commencing.

So at this point you may be wondering what Mount Rushmore and Jessie's Girl have in common. Well, the answer lies in this post. So keep reading.

We stayed in Blackhawk, SD, which is just northwest of Rapid City, which was just enough out of the city and sort of a mid-way point for most of the things we wanted to see in the area. That first morning we went straightway to Mt. Rushmore following our continental breakfast in the hotel.

Patriotic in red (Emery), white (KDJ), and blue (Katie).

Do you like our color coordination? Too bad I'm not wearing white pants and then it would have been perfect... or not. White pants? Really? Yeah, no.

Mount Rushmore is the creation of unconventional sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, and was carved from 1927 to 1941, when Borglum died and his son Lincoln finished for him. Borglum chose to give life to four leaders who brought the nation from colonial times into the 1900s representing the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of our nation. The four men immortalized in granite here are:

1. George Washington
Washington was commander of the Revolutionary army and the first President of the United States. Did you realize that the American Revolutionary War lasted for eight years. EIGHT years! Wow.

"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." ~ George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789.

Photo found here
2. Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, the third President of The United States, and mastermind of the Louisiana Purchase, which interestingly came with some some domestic opposition since it was thought to be unconstitutional. Although Jefferson agreed that the U.S. Constitution did not contain provisions for acquiring territory, he decided to go ahead with the purchase anyway in order to remove France's presence in the region and to protect both U.S. trade access to the port of New Orleans and free passage on the Mississippi River. The land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase encompasses all or part of 15 present states in our country. It was sold for 50 million francs ($11,250,000) plus the forgiving of debts worth 18 million francs ($3,750,000), for a total of 15 million dollars (less than 3 cents per acre). Mere pennies.

3. Abraham Lincoln
Honest Abe comes next in chronological order, but is sculpted on the far right. He was the 16th President, under whose leadership the Union was restored and slavery was abolished on U.S. soil.

"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it." ~Abraham Lincoln, Address at Cooper Union, February 27, 1860.

Photo found here.
4. Theodore Roosevelt 
Teddy was the 26th President and promoted construction of the Panama canal and ignited progressive causes like conservation and economic reform. He also looks a awful lot like Wilford Brimley, don't you think?

"We, here in America, hold in our hands the hopes of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men." ~ Theodore Roosevelt, Address at Carnegie Hall, March 30, 1912

I have visited my fair share of American historic landmarks, and I have to say Mount Rushmore is pretty darn impressive. It's hard to grasp the enormity of it in pictures. And not until this trip had I ever noticed the rock slide below, proof of the amount of effort that really went into carving such a masterpiece.

(Please excuse the blurriness in a few of these pictures. I was using my camera phone, which is pretty good, but not spectacular.)

We lost our red white and blue effect when KDJ got hot. :) And lest you think Brian didn't come with us, you should know he is always the official photographer. Not only does he have a good artistic eye, but he hates being in photographs.

No matter where you position yourself, this monument is really magnificent. I found myself taking pictures from every angle. The clouds came in and gave overcast views that I couldn't resist either.

Ranger Rick (okay, that wasn't his name, but I think I'll stick with it) took us on a guided tour explaining the history and walking us around the base.

Listening to Ranger Rick.
I think this might be the only picture I have of Brian from the whole trip. He's to the right of Katie and KDJ. Not the old man to the right in the picture, but on Katie's right side.

The clouds really rolled in, which of course, I loved and we continued along the path all the way down to Gutzon Borglum's studio.

Borglum, the sculptor once said, "We believe the dimensions of national heartbeats are greater than village impulses, greater than state dreams or ambitions. Therefore we believe a nation's memorial should, like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, have a serenity, a nobility, a power that reflects the gods who inspired them and suggests the gods they have become."

Being in his studio, we got a completely different perspective. Often I hear people's observations that Teddy is hiding in the rock and that maybe that's because people don't think he should be up there. I've always found that interesting, but viewing the monument from Borglum's view in his studio changes that thought.

Teddy is looking straight at him.

The pulley system is also on show with the giant cables that were used to at first carry supplies up the mountain and later on men. One time someone pulled too hard on the brake chain and broke the cable and the car sped down the cable, tossing a few men as it smashed directly into the base station. Amazingly, no one was killed. In fact, no one was ever killed while building Mount Rushmore.

By the time we left that day, it was really cloudy, which of course cooled down the summer temperatures and made for some really beautiful cloud cover. There is an evening show, but we decided to check that out another night because... we had plans. :) Plus, the entrance fee allows you (your particular car) to come back in for free for... something like 6 months or something.

See... we took tons of pictures. :)

So there's something about Thomas Jefferson and ice cream. Either he brought it to the New World or he just has some famous recipe. Honestly, I don't remember. But who needs any more convincing to eat an ice cream cone than knowing that Thomas Jefferson brought it over from France. Twist my arm.

After spending nearly the entire day at Mount Rushmore (who knew it would be so cool?), we set out for Deadwood, SD for... wait for it... a Rick Springfield concert in the center of town. (It was free.) Along the way, we stopped at some really random Christmas ornament store for Brian to pick out ornaments for his family and for KDJ to take silly pictures.

See, I told you the store was random.

When we walked out, lo and behold, what to my wondering eyes did appear? The start of some pretty cool mammatus clouds! So cool. These are the least common (at least in my neck of the woods) and so they was pretty amazing to see. And little did I know that Deadwood would bring even more amazing clouds. Just you wait (Henry Higgins, just you wait)!

So we arrived in Deadwood, found a great (free) parking spot and walked to Main Street. In case you didn't know, Deadwood gained its notoriety when Wild Bill Hickok was murdered there. Now apparently it's popular for free Rick Springfield concerts...

If you look closely, we are mimicking the people in the drawing behind us... yeah, weird.

Interesting, quaint town.

So obviously we went to Deadwood to hear Jessie's Girl, but since of course that's the ONLY Rick Springfield song I know (isn't it the only one anyone knows?), he saved it until the very end. Lucky us... So in the mean time, take a look at this sky!

And then I figured I should probably pay a little more attention to Mr. Springfield, not that he or anyone would notice that I wasn't... they were all so drunk, it was rather humorous.

Seriously those clouds were spectacular. I didn't alter those camera phone photos at all. I'm so glad we went to the free Rick Springfield concert in Deadwood so I could see them. ;)

I will say that despite it starting to rain, and even though Rick's shirt kept being unbuttoned more and more until it was finally off at the end (did we really need to see that?!), sticking around to sing Jessie's Girl out loud with a bunch of drunk peeps was pretty fun!

By the way, if you have no idea who Rick Springfield is or can't sing the tune to Jesse's Girl, you are not a child of the 80s. But you can find it here. According to Wikipedia, "Jessie's Girl remains a staple of many lite rock and classic hits FM radio stations. In 2006, it was named #20 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 80s". Yup that's right. And we saw him in person (even if he IS now 62 years old, 34 years older than he was when the catchy tune first came out). :) Beat that.

Oh, and if you want to hear US singing...

For trivia lovers, here's the background on Jessie's Girl (from Wikipedia):
Springfield was taking a stained glass class along with his friend Gary and Gary's girlfriend. He initially wanted to use the actual name of the friend he was singing about, but instead decided to go with a different name — "Jessie". He happened to see a girl in a softball jersey with the name "Jessie" on it and changed the name from Gary to Jessie, then recorded the song. Springfield says that he does not remember the name of the girlfriend, and believes that the real woman who inspired the song has no idea that she was "Jessie's Girl", telling Oprah Winfrey, "I was never really introduced to her. It was always just, like, panting from afar." 
He got married 3 years after the song came out. Come on now, did you click on the youtube link? You know you want to. Here you go.

(Written July 7, 2013)

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