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Old 05-05-2004, 10:58 PM   #75
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
Oddometer: 6,727
25th April

Woke at 0845! Best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks!

Unfortunately, as I pack the bike, I notice a large storm cloud in the direction I’m headed…:( Never mind – I set off, fully prepared for rain… Thankfully, apart from a short flurry of snow, I manage to dodge all bad weather and, after a stop for a superb breakfast in the Wrangler Café in Custer, arrive in Mount Rushmore National Monument by midday…



The Black Hills of South Dakota are very beautiful, and I slowly ride down towards the visitors centre. The place is obviously designed to deal with vast numbers of visitors and parking is carefully controlled. There is a $8 charge for parking and entrance, whether you are solo on a bike or driving a fully laden SUV... This lack of differentiation between bikes and cars is something I’ve noticed a lot in the USA – tolls on Turnpikes, for instance, are charged ‘per axle’, so a bike and a light truck will pay the same – ah, well…



The carving, when I get to see it, is a surprise. For some reason, I’d pictured the sculpture as being at the top of a low hill, with a flat plain in front of it – in fact it’s in the middle of the hills and the visitor centre is built into the side of the hill facing it.



There is an enormous amphitheatre, stage and extensive lighting – all unused today…



I go and watch a very interesting 20 minute film, mostly contemporary newsreel footage, about the carving and the man who did it, Gutzon Borglum…



…the narrative is a little ‘gung ho’ and full of terms like ‘Shrine of Democracy’, ‘Freedom – America’s Lasting Legacy’, but the film is still interesting.

The construction (if that’s the right word) took 14 years, between 1927 and 1941. 90% of the rock was removed using dynamite and Borglum himself died 6 months before the monument was completed, leaving his son to finish off the work…

Another thing that struck me about the sculpture is its size… It’s smaller than I expected. It’s not that it’s not big, you understand, but, perhaps because you never see it with anything to compare by way of scale, I expected it to be much bigger…



I then returned to the souvenir shop, via the corridor of stone columns, each displaying 4 state flags…



…to find it’s the worst collection of money grabbing tat I’ve yet seen in the USA (and remember – I’ve been to Graceland:P)…
What do you want, to celebrate the ‘Shrine of Democracy’?



Frisbee?



Beer can holder?



Hat with electric flashing lights :eek:



Placemats?



Christmas Decorations

Good Grief : - time to leave…



I’m at a bit of a loose end now – I decide to head off to Sturgis, as it’s not far. Sturgis is home to a large bike rally in August each year – a bit like Daytona Bike Week.



Daytona has sunshine & the sea – Sturgis has… well – wind and dust, actually… It’s a hole :P. I refuel and set course for Gillette, where I intend to spend the night. The route leaves me through Deadwood which, spookily enough, is nothing like the HBO TV series…



…in fact, if you didn’t know better, you’d think it was a crap town full of ‘casinos’ stuffed with one-armed bandits…

I arrive in Gillette and check in to the Holiday Inn.

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MikeO screwed with this post 12-11-2010 at 02:45 PM
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