Wednesday, September 4, 2013
South Dakota: Mt. Rushmore
Although it had been nearly 30 years ago, I had been to Mt. Rushmore and remembered that it had been kind of underwhelming. It is impressive that someone could see a pile of rocks and carve out the pictures of four presidents but compared to all the pictures I had seen previously, it seemed kind of small. But my wife, her mother and two aunts had never seen Mt. Rushmore before so we set our sights on it next.
Thirty years ago, I remember that Mt. Rushmore seemed a long way from civilization and one you got there, there wasn't more than a parking lot, a path up to a viewing platform with a small building behind that contained a museum of sorts explaining the history of the mountain. That Mt. Rushmore no longer exists. Now, there is practically a four lane freeway up to the foot of the mountain and the parking lot has been replaced by a multi-story parking garage. All along the road are billboards screaming out various ways to part you from your money. Once you make it to the top floor of the parking structure, instead of the path, there is now a series of stone gates that you walk through followed by a wide path lined with flags, food vendors, cafes, trinket shops, atm machines, etc. Although I looked and may have missed it among all the signs, I couldn't find the museum anymore. Where the old museum and viewing platform used to stand, there is a much larger viewing platform and stadium seating for a laser light show in the evenings after dark. It is all very commercialized which is unfortunate.
We took our obligatory pictures though I found my best picture above was taken from the first gate after the parking garage with a zoom lens. Although I wasn't real enthused about visiting Mt. Rushmore and fighting the crowds of people, I was out voted and went along. Afterwards, one of my aunt-in-laws from the Philippines was nearly in tears due to the extreme happiness of visiting a landmark that she thought she would never see in her lifetime. The impact a foreign national landmark made on her certainly made me see Mt. Rushmore in a different light, commercialization and crowds be damned.