And the walks were really fun, too.
The Stone Presidents were fun to go see, as I found out how they actually went from scale models to the actual mountain. Just used a swinging arm at the top and the models were 1/12 the size of the actual stone, and matched up measurements and then they blasted away the rock. 90% of the sculpture was done with dynamite. It was also cool to see pictures of the vault and entrance behind Lincoln, though we didn't actually see it.
We did take the mile long pathway around the base of the mountain. That was wonderful, as we got to see not only the big presidents, but the skree field from blowing away 450,000 tons of rock. There was a cave in the rocks, and a teepee and stone type exhibit. We also got to see a lot of the native plant life and I got dozens of pictures of pine trees growing right out of the rock. Sinuous like dragons, indeed. It was crowded with lots of tourists, but part of the trail was marked "strenuous" and took us down to the original studios they worked from. A lot of the tourists didn't even make it from the stating gate. Most of the workers started with a 700 foot climb before going out on swings to use a jackhammer or drills on the mountain face. It was amazing.
Jet decided that presidents really should be installed every Leap Year when he heard that we get a new one every four years, or eight, sometimes. He also said that the Vitamin Water that I bought tasted like it had dinosaurs melted in it. He gets dinosaur vitamins, which is what he meant, but it was funnier as just dinosaurs melted in it. *grin*
We had finished the walk and a ranger just kind of met up with us as we were starting to make our way out of the park and he glanced at me wearing my Kauai Red Dirt shirt, a hat with a Hawaiian floral motif, and John in a sea turtle shirt and started explaining that the June here had been very wet and cold and how good it was to sleep through a storm at night knowing he wasn't going to get a fire call and have to get up and get his pack to fight a fire.
I didn't have the heart to tell him we were actually from Colorado. Or that we have friends who are Hot Shots stuck in California for over a month fighting the wild fires there. It's good we're not having them here, I'll admit.
Singer, we found feldspar. *laughs* Along with mica, quartz veins running through the granite of the Presidents' faces, and all at the base of everything was schist... a friable stone with too small a granular structure to be carved. So they stopped at the faces when they'd originally built the models all the way to the waist. Wow. Now that would have been something. It was just cool to see the models. I got a picture of them, and I'm probably going to only load up the good ones this time.
Lunch was at the pavilion there, and John met up with a guy that does the Community Food Share in Niwot, he shops there every week for the OUR center, gets 500 pounds of various kind of perishables that they wouldn't otherwise get. So the guy knows John pretty well by now.
After lunch we went out to Crazy Horse. Where the four presidents would fit in just Crazy Horse's head. The whole scale of the thing is just lost in the hugeness of it all. Thunderhead mountain is so much bigger, and the whole private enterprise feel of the thing is so much more... individual in a way. They really play it up and advertise big because they won't take government money for it. But the smaltz of it is nearly overwhelming.
It's pretty amazing how they're doing it, but it's been fifty years. They've carved it pretty far down to where they need it, but with just Crazy Horse's face being the one recognizable feature after all that time, it's hard to contemplate, really. Mt. Rushmore was done between 1927 and 1941, just fourteen years, but with a whole lot of money behind it and a nearly 200 workers, all listed on a memorial. This is so much bigger and so much less well financed. It was satisfying to give them some of our money, as it will probably be well used. But... it was odd, too, to be asked for it so unabashedly.
From there we went back to the hotel, had a swim in the rather cold pool. And then had a slow, okay dinner. I'm not sure if there are culinary treats to be had in South Dakota, other than buffalo and chokecherries. So we're not really looking for local specialties as we normally might do. Then back to the room and I had to dump my brain and easily a 1000 words on a Downed* Angel fanfic. There's at least another 1000 there... the Big Easy may be easy for me to write, but she won't let me do it with a paucity of words. I also have 200 on an Jyuushiro/Shunsui fic requested as a trade for more art. And they all needed out, so I'm up later than I should be.