Next on our trip was Mt. Rushmore, the iconic cliffside sculptures of four of our Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. It was getting late, so we pulled into a small motel along the way before we headed up to the monument. It was snowing and piling up a bit. One of the things that I had always bemoaned about my past jeep wranglers was that they didn’t have an all-wheel drive for the times when the roads are a little of some and not enough of either.
Meaning betwixt the use of two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. But, yay! Our new Jeep 4xe Wrangler was the first year that all wheel drive was included! Anyone who has tried to drive four-wheel drive over road that goes from wet to dry knows how helpful that is.
The motel was nice and adequate. Actually, it was kinda fun as it was a throwback to the old-style motels that created the very name “motel” – “motor hotel” (which was first coined about a place in San Luis Obispo, California, but I digress).
After checking in, we headed right up to Mt. Rushmore.
You can see it from the road, heading up the mountain. It’s pretty impressive.
The person who designed and oversaw the construction was Gutzon Borglum, who also designed other monuments and statues in the United States, such as the controversial Stone Mountain in Georgia…
Not that Mt. Rushmore wasn’t controversial as well. The Black Hills have a history of spirituality for the Native Americans as well as an example of American expansionism as treaties were broken once gold was discovered in the area. I imagine those discussions will go on for a long time.
I prefer to look at it as a message of idealism, from a past time when idealism was a privilege, but no less relevant today when it’s recognized as a right for us all.
The last time I visited Mt. Rushmore was just a week or so after the attacks of 9/11. At that time, there were columns that had each state and territory listed on each of the four sides of each column. The plaques for New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania were adorned with flags and mementoes people had left to honor those lost in the attack. I asked one of the Rangers if they had set that up, and I was told it was completely spontaneous. And, further, that every gift left there was going to be preserved in the Smithsonian.
This time, some 20 years later, the columns had been replaced with small stone monuments with the states and territories on similar plaques. And, this time, it was snowing, so the landscape was sprinkled with white dusting.
We took a lot of photos, but only have a few here because, honestly, there are only so many photos you can take of the monument. It was late in the day, the sun was falling, so we were able to stay until they lit it up for the evening.
And as we were leaving, we passed by some pristine snow that had just fallen. I dared Jessica to make a snow angel. And she did.
Though the snow was a little more icy than it looked, resulting less in a snow angel and more of a butt smudge.