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Seeking Mt. Rushmore

There were a few years there, where it seemed like every tour I was on rolled through towns close to Keystone, South Dakota.  For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it’s the location of Mt. Rushmore.


On most tours, there isn’t enough time to get out and do much sightseeing.  If you’re on a tour bus, you’re rolling into a venue sometime early morning.  I always got up early with the Crew to load in equipment and gear.  The artists and musicians generally didn’t show up until soundcheck, which was after all the sound gear had been set up.

The day would be filled with rehearsals, merchandise inventory and bookkeeping, training volunteers, homeschooling your children if you’re crazy enough to have them with you.  Then dinnertime would roll around and everyone would eat something notoriously unusual.  Unless it was a big tour and then you could count on something fairly delicious.  After dinner, the show.  After the show, pack up and load back out.  Sleep on the tour bus, if you’re one of the lucky ones who can actually sleep.  Show up at the venue.  Rinse, repeat.

The tours that rolled through the Black Hills were small tours and we were usually driving our own vehicle, or riding in a van with the band.  This meant there were far less moving parts to prep for the shows.  It also meant we had more flexibility to adventure for a couple hours in the afternoons.  As I mentioned, when in the Black Hills, we always went to Mt. Rushmore.


It’s a pretty cool place.  There’s a good gift shop there and a museum where you can watch videos of the construction.  Did you know that no lives were lost in the carving of the mountain?  That’s a pretty incredible feat when you see the hazards these people endured and the enormity of a project like that.  The heads alone are sixty feet tall and probably up to 200 feet above the ground.  Add to that, the project took place between 1927 and 1941.  For how little technology was available, it might as well have been like building the Great Pyramids, but in South Dakota.

It’s a great stop on a family road trip.  It’s even pretty beautiful to get to visit a few times in a year and experience the different seasons.  Beyond that, it can get a little tired.  And my kids, who were on those tours with me, got pretty sick of it.  Probably because they don’t change out the gift shop offerings and that was their favorite part.

Stepping Off The Beaten Path

After the tourist appeal wore off, I began to take my camera with me and look beyond the presidents.  That’s when things got really engaging.  My favorite things about the Mt. Rushmore Memorial have nothing to do with the actual carvings and everything to do with the forest tucked into that same mountain.  Trees standing like sentinels, deep, quiet, still and elegant.  Their bark a testament to the precise and wild artistry of creation.  Breathtaking.

Things always get more interesting for me when I can step off the beaten path a bit and take a closer look.  (Although at the Rushmore national park, they are very strict about staying on the path!  Good thing my camera had a zoom lens.)  It’s when I can change my focus from the very obvious, to the more subtle that I am rewarded.  Those rewards generally come to me in the form of beauty.  And for me, that’s my happiest place.

Trees and Stone

If you love sight-seeing, or you are distracted, if you like to look beyond or need to find your happy place, let’s be friends~

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