During our summer road trip, we saw more interesting sights that I could squeeze into my real-time posts. Now that I'm back home and have fished all 548 photos off my devices, I have a few more road trip stories to share.
To catch up on the rest of the trip, start here.
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I can relate to a person who loves the out-of-doors, especially the grand and majestic landscapes of the American West.
And I totally understand the human desire to leave a mark on the world, so that future generations will remember who they were and what they stood for..
But a man who combines those passions by dynamiting the face off a mountain and then chiseling in the features of his heroes?
Yeah, that pretty much blows my mind.
But that's exactly what Gutzon Borglom did when he brought to life four familiar faces of our country's founding fathers in the granite of the South Dakota skyline.
Mount Rushmore National Monument is the name of this quirky landmark, and though full of funny ups and down and peculiar musings, our stop here was one of the highlights of our road trip.
^ Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Mount Rushmore! Step right up to the viewing terrace! Proceed down the Avenue of the Flags, featuring state banners from every corner of the country displayed with pomp and circumstance.
Undeniably elegant, this elaborate entry experience feels more like a circus than a national park. Usually, the man-made structures are designed to blend into the natural surroundings and draw little attention unto themselves, but here we were all but rolled out a red carpet.
^ Much more pleasing and reflective is this view. Cropping away the fancy details, all eyes turn to the four men whose wisdom, courage and love for country are at the heart of this special place.
George Washington: Revolutionary War general and first president. A humble and visionary leader.
Thomas Jefferson: diplomat, adventurer, scientist, and all-around awesome third president. My hero.
Theodore Roosevelt: our cowboy president who inspired the name, "teddy bear" and loved nature.
Abraham Lincoln: plainspoken country boy who became president and saved the Union in her darkest day.
^ After a quiet hour of gazing at these remarkable men's likenesses and wandering through the interestingly fact-filled visitor center, we stepped back into the circus of souvenir shops and eateries.
Presidential snack food? Check. The ice cream shoppe on location features the vanilla recipe brought back from France by my personal hero and favorite founding father, Thomas Jefferson. You know I ate a cone full of that goodness and relished every drop.
^ Though our late-afternoon and evening visit was satisfyingly complete, we returned the next morning on our way out of town to grab some photos of the east-facing monument in the bright morning light.
Yep, everyone was still present and accounted for, those dynamic and responsive men frozen forever in bedrock. I found myself wondering over and again, how George, TJ, Teddy and Abe would feel about being carved into stone. My guess is that they would be honored, proud and probably a little embarrassed about all the fuss.
^ As we bid our farewell and headed west, always west toward home, I was shocked to find a last fleeting view of the monument, quite different from all the rest. Washington's face in profile, squinting in the morning sun, appeared far more natural and alive at this angle.
Keep an eye on the place, George. Stay strong and steady. We look up to you, and always will.