Louise Speaks: Day 39 Continued: Well this makes my 200th post to the blog. Where has the time gone. I have totally enjoyed writing about my travels and hope you have enjoyed reading about them. I never thought this blog would become that popular. There are people reading this blog from all over the country, and some I don’t even know,,,yet they comment with great comments. So thanks to everyone who has been following along…I hope you continue.
From Mount Rushmore we were hungry and we were told we just had to eat at the State Game Lodge. On our way to the lodge we went through Custer State Park. This is a state park that you have to go through to get to Crazy Horse. However, to get to Custer Park there is a drive to beat all drives. The road is so curvy it has the name of “Pigtail Hwy.” There is a point, where you go through a tunnel and through the tunnel you can see Mount Rushmore. We tried to take a picture of this but we couldn’t …it was just breathtaking.
Part of Custer State Park is this Pigtail Hwy. which goes through a huge buffalo range. As Thelma was driving, I was watching and looking trying to see any type of wildlife. We were told that we should see herds of animals especially buffalo, and donkey’s. Begging Burros is a name used to refer to the donkeys in Custer State Park. For many years, these donkeys have earned this nickname as they approach various passing cars through the park begging for food. Many people bring food to the park specifically for the purpose of feeding these animals. The park is home to a famous herd of 1500 free roaming bison. Elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and mountain lions also inhabit the park. Unfortunately I didn’t see anything with 4 legs…very disappointed. The pigtail hwy. is also known as the Needles Hwy. This hwy is 14 miles long, has 5 tunnels and takes about an hour to complete. You can imagine the curves if it takes an hour to drive 14 miles.
Once we were out of the park and back on straight road we were at the entrance to Crazy Horse. There is a controversy between Mount Rushmore and the Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876. 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 from Mount Rushmore. The sculpture’s final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet wide and 563 feet high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet; by comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet high. The Crazy Horse monument is intended to be larger than Mount Rushmore.
In 1929, Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, initiated the project to honor Crazy Horse by writing to the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, saying in part, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.” The American sculptor had worked on Mount Rushmore in 1924. Ziolkowski suggested carving the memorial in the Wyoming Tetons where the rock was better for sculpting, but the Sioux leader insisted it be carved in the Black Hills, which are sacred to Lakota culture. After making models, Ziolkowski started blasting for the monument in 1948. Ziolkowski died in 1982. Sixteen years later in 1998, the face of Crazy Horse was completed and dedicated. The entire complex is owned by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. Ziolkowski’s wife Ruth and seven of their ten children work at the memorial on a regular basis. Their daughter Monique Ziolkowski, a sculptor, has modified some of her father’s plans to make the sculpture work better. The foundation commissioned reports from two engineering firms in 2009 to help guide completion of the project.
Since I had never been here I wanted to see it. As we approached the guard station they ask for a fee of $10 per person. The carving is right in front of you and can be seen from the road. Thelma had been here many years before and said it appears like there is no change. Since we could see it from the road, we told the guard we were just going to turn around and leave, The guard informed us that they had done some blasting today, and changes can be seen from inside. I still wasn’t interested. As we were leaving, we stopped to take a photo. Doing the same thing was a gal from Pennsylvania who said she had been here in the 70’s and according to her there has been no change. I’m guessing this is going to be a long project, and one that we may never seen completed.
Our site seeing for the day was done. Now it was time to go get some dinner. As recommended by a friend of Thelma’s we headed to the State Game Lodge. The place was packed…even tour buses were here…food has to be good, right?
We were seated right away on the quiet side of the room. We had a charming waiter and we ordered. Once our food arrived Thelma’s did not look like much. I asked her what she ordered and Thelma said not this. We were starving so we ate what was in front of us. Finally we got the attention of our waiter and asked him what was Thelma eating. When he told us, Thelma said that is not what she ordered. So Thelma got a second meal at no charge.
The food was good. The service was excellent. The ambiance was wonderful. They had a staff person who just went around and poured water. The hostess made sure the candles on the table were always lit. It was a full service dinning facility and the food was good. Great customer service as well.
The first part of today was historical and interesting, The end of the day was very scenic and breathtaking. But the middle of the day, Mount Rushmore, is definitely the talk of the day. You can read more about this in Patricia’s book “1000 Places to See Before You Die”. So the day’s end gets a raising of a C. After seeing Mount Rushmore, nothing else could have compare.
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