“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.”
…I was also looking forward to the weekend, however. We were to go to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse that weekend, two of the famous monuments in South Dakota. It was going to be epic…
Through the entire week, if not for the entire summer so far, a lot of us were looking forward to going to Mount Rushmore. In fact, if you look up for things to do in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore will obviously be one of the major attractions, drawing tourist from around the world and what not. So when Amy was asked to plan the trip, I was comfortable knowing that it would be a good trip.
Crazy Horse, in fact, was suggested to us when we realised that Mount Rushmore is not too popular in those parts. The reason being that the Presidents carved in the stone mountain were colloquially known to be oppressive towards the indigenous people. In fact, Crazy Horse is a statement of sorts towards those who marvel at the mount. A statement showcasing the true history of South Dakota.
The initial plan was to travel to Rapid City, pick up another group of Brazilians, who were to stay with us for a week, have lunch, then head to Mount Rushmore succeeded by Crazy Horse, and then return. Of course, Amy planned it in that order too. Given that a lot of the staff at camp loved shopping, and a few insisted on visiting a mall at some point, I was told that we would head back to Rapid City for laundry and shopping. Personally, I didn’t care too much for it. Given the size of malls in Bombay, shopping in South Dakota wasn’t ever going to be a great plan.
I don’t think I had mentioned this earlier, but since the next set of Brazilians were to arrive on the Friday, we would end our camp session on the Friday instead of the Saturday. This not only meant that the week would be shorter, but also we would get two days over the weekend, something I was truly looking forward to.
When Friday arrived, we all were to leave at 8:00am. So while everyone was packing and getting onto the bus, I decided to go through the plan once again with Cait and Ryan. Honestly, I was a little bummed that we were only going to get about an hour and a half at each place, but I guess the people who wanted to shop would really appreciate it, so I was okay with it. And, quite frankly, everyone mentioned that ninety mins would be more than enough to view the place.
By the time we left, to my dismay, it was already 8:45am. A 45 min delay was not going to help us one bit, but I suppose we could cover up given the Amy mentioned she had given some buffer time. I was told that we were to stop at Dupree to drop the Chimney Girls, which was new information, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be a long stop. It was though…
When we arrived at Dupree to drop the girls, we all wanted to say bye to everyone from the Becket Boys as well. It was the last time we were seeing them for the summer, and arguably our lives, so goodbyes were a must. This natural reaction meant we were delayed by more than an hour now. But it was a delay that was worth it so far anyway.
In the Lakota, there is no expression to say “good bye.” Instead, Lakota speakers express “farewells” in a variety of ways, must common being Tókša akhé (later, again). And that is how we would bid our adieus at camp.
The drive to Rapid City was really fun. I don’t remember Road Trips being all about singing, not since a while at least, but the Brazilians had their versions of songs, and we had ours, and it was just a big amazing bundle of enthusiasm that I was experiencing and loving. By the time we had reached Rapid City, Cait had managed to cover up some time using her expertise in bus driving, which was a huge relief.
We were to meet new Brazilian team at the YMCA, which was to be followed by some team building games. Over the last week, we had identified some monotony in the camp schedule, as well as some differences between counsellors. This meant that something was to be done about it. Amy had pulled out all the team building games she knew, and shortlisted a few to do at the YMCA.
When we met this new team, we realised that they seemed significantly older than the other group. Okay, I might be exaggerating, but if not that much in age, I suppose it was the mannerisms that made them feel a bit more mature in their actions, for better or worse.
The team building games were short, though I’m not sure how effective being the skeptic that I usually am. After that we were to have lunch. Unfortunately, the YMCA bailed on providing lunch, which meant that we had to go to the Pizza Hut nearby to fill our bellies. It didn’t mean much of a change for everyone, but it did mean another delay was on the charts.
Over lunch, Natasha and Ribas approached me over something they wanted to discuss. The sorry state that I was in meant that I was already in no mood to sort another issue. Their issue was quite sorry though. Apparently some miscommunication with the Sioux Y meant that they weren’t sure how to plan their steps forward. Honestly, it didn’t seem like much, but I could get their apprehension towards it. Being in a new country and responsible for people meant that this could go out of proportion in no time, and had to be sorted quickly. Amy suggested I involve Ryan about it as Cait’s health had suddenly taken a drastic downturn. He was kind enough to provide some resolution to it, and we put it to bed, if only for the moment, and then all headed for Mount Rushmore.
Mount Rushmore, in the words of wikipedia, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a batholith in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, United States. Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level. South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. Robinson’s initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from Native American groups. They settled on Mount Rushmore, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Robinson wanted it to feature American West heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud,and Buffalo Bill Cody, but Borglum decided the sculpture should have broader appeal and chose the four presidents.
This is arguably the first view you have of the mount, with the flags of all fifty United States on pillars on the way along with the date of their alliance with the US.
On a personal front, I really loved the structure, though it really seemed smaller than expected. Ryan mentioned that it was because I was too far away from it, but having been used to grandeur in monuments around the world, this one seemed more functional, if that’s an apt word enough. I don’t mean that it wasn’t beautiful, because it was. It was just that the maker seemed to make it to draw tourists rather than for pride, the latter being the basic objective of most monuments.
The memorial park as such had a lot to do, other than the memorial itself, with a museum and a trial. Since we were to spend only 30-45 mins here, it meant we couldn’t do the trail. However, it was enough to have a quick look at the museum.
When we got back to the bus, I realised that few people had already made it back in time. In a another half an hour, though, we had almost everyone. However, I was pretty bugged that we were missing four more people. What made matters worse is that none of them had a phone, neither had they mentioned which part of the area they were in. Isaac joined me in a quick search for them, and it took us another half an hour. What was the worst was when we picked up the last two and they pinned it on me, saying that I never mentioned how long we had there, which wasn’t a truthful accusation at all.
I was sad by this point, not because of the delay or what she had said to me, or that it meant less time for shopping, but I got only half an hour there just because I was back on time. What made matters worse is that people started questioning the plan itself, and putting the responsibility on us for a faulty plan. We all reached a consensus that we could only spend half an hour at the Crazy Horse memorial, which was more than enough since you couldn’t actually go to the mount because it’s incomplete and too far, so I assumed we would save time there.
Again, as per wikipedia, The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument under construction on privately held land in the Black Hills, in Custer County, South Dakota, United States. It will depict the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. The memorial was commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, to be sculpted by Korczak Ziolkowski. It is operated by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization. The memorial master plan includes the mountain carving monument, an Indian Museum of North America, and a Native American Cultural Center. The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, on land considered sacred by some Oglala Lakota, between Custer and Hill City, roughly 17 miles (27 km) from Mount Rushmore. The sculpture’s final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet (195 m) wide and 563 feet (172 m) high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet (27 m) high; by comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet (18 m) high.
The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is far from completion. If completed, it may become the world’s largest sculpture as well as the first non-religious statue to hold this record since 1967 (when it was held by the Soviet monument The Motherland Calls).
From what we saw, the memorial was panning out to be something truly awesome. What the kids had told us about it was true, and it was definitely something to be appreciated a lot more than Rushmore. The museum too, had an amazingly informative experience of the Lakota and Sioux Tribes, apart from the other indigenous people from America. It spoke about their life and timeline, as well as the significance of the area.
This time, I made myself pretty vocal about the time we were going to spend there. And my job ended there. I wasn’t a baby sitter, so I saw no reason to go around collecting people when the time was up. As expected, however, when I got back in time, we were missing four people again. Two of whom were late coming back from a monument for the second time that day. This time, I wasn’t going to say anything about it. Thankfully, Natasha volunteered to search for them and I followed her. When we found them, I just said Ryan was waiting, so we came to call, to which she said ‘I’m sorry Carlton. I’m sorry that we want to visit places rather than visit malls like you’
What? WHAT? I don’t want to visit a mall. I don’t even think I’ll get 1% of the stuff I’m used to in this mall. I’m an avid traveller and nothing pleases me more than soaking in the heritage of the place. I can’t believe this!!
Natasha just looked at me, knowing full well what I wanted to say. She decided to just let me be, knowing that nothing she said was going to help. I just quietly walked back into the bus. Unfortunately, it was too late to go to any mall or shop. People themselves suddenly felt no need to go to the mall, and somehow it all seemed like Amy and I were the only ones who wanted to shop. Ryan was unsure of what to do, and since Cait’s health wasn’t too better he decided to take a vote. Everyone decided that they were tired and all they did was want to eat. So we decided to stop at Hill City.
I’m usually one person to not propagate drinking in frustration, but that day I went up on my word. I took Amy to this place called the Bumpin Buffalo Bar and Grill. The burgers there were really good, but downing two bottles of wine in 15 minutes is something I’ll always remember. I’ll always remember this day. I’ll always remember the burger. I’ll remember the trip to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. I remember everything, because after we finished those two bottles, I remember nothing.