Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mt. Rushmore

At the beginning of May I travelled to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore to complete #5 on my 30 under 30 list. Originally I had planned on taking a road trip to see it, but then I figured out how long it would take me to get there and decided to check into flying ot see it.  21 hour one-way roadtrip? Yikes!  It would take forever.  Planes are so much more efficient.

I invited several friends along, but my friend Lili was the only one who could get the time off to go.  Lili also went with me to swim with dolphins and ride a roller coaster 30 times in a row, and also she was part of the limo crew (all part of my 30 under 30 list).  We left Houston on a Friday and came back Sunday afternoon.  It was a quick trip!

On the way to Mt. Rushmore we had two layovers (the plane tickets were only $275 each so a few layovers helps with the price).  We got to South Dakota around 10 pm and checked into the motel.  Since we were going the budget route, we flew into Sioux Falls, SD.  Sioux Falls is about 5 hours from Mt. Rushmore so we had a bit of a road trip ahead of us.  We got up, had breakfast at the hotel and were on the road by 6:30 am.

I loved the trip there, the scenery is beautiful!  All the mountains and farms were breathtaking.  Along the way we heard of a great place in Wall, TX call Wall Drug Store.  Apparently the place is famous for giving out free ice water to travelers on the way to see Mt. Rushmore.  There are billboards every 5 miles advertising this place (it reminded me of all the billboards advertising Buckee's on the way to San Antonio).  When we got there I was expecting a place like Walgreen or Buckee's, but no this place is HUGE!  There is so many shops (all connected) and they even had a restaurant (where we had lunch).  We shopped a bit and took pictures (more pictures of this trip here).  They had lots of silly things to take pictures by! haha

After we left Wall Drug Store we headed out so we could make it to Mt. Rushmore soon (it was about another 40 miles).  We got to Mt. Rushmore about 12:30 PM.  Somewhere between Wall, TX and Sioux Falls the time changed so we had gained an hour.  We decided to wait to check in to the hotel until after we got finished with seeing the sites (plus I don't think check-in is until after 3 anyway). 

We drove up the mountain and saw Mt.Rushmore from far away and it looked so tiny!  We were hoping it would look bigger once we got closer (it did!).  We got to the admissions gate and paid the $11 fee to get in.  We stopped by the gift shop on the way in, because I love shopping and I got a postcard of Mt. Rushmore and a magnet for my fridge. 

We walked through the Avenue of Flags and guess what we saw!  The Texas flag!  Well, all of the states had their flag but whatever.  Each state has their flag, the year it was admitted to the union, and the order it was admitted.  Texas being number 28 of course. :) (Ok, ok.  I didn't pay attention in history and I didn't remember what # or year it was admitted.)

We walked to the lookout to see the mountain side and it was beautiful!  So much cooler in real life vs. pictures.  Of course we did a photo opp!

The pictures make it look small, but even the noses on these guys were huge.  The nose is at least three people stacked on top of each other tall.  Big.  For some reason I always thought the monument was straight across, but it's not.  Roosevelt faces the side of Lincoln's cheek.  Oh well, maybe everyone else knew that but it was a surprise to me.

After taking more pictures we heard there was a .5 mile trail that leads you a bit closer for photos.  We were told it's a big circle so you can go anyway.  Travel tip: It's true, it is a big circle...but start at the left side! The right side is full of stairs going up and you will be out of breath by the time you get to the middle (and want to turn around!).  If you start from the left you will be going down stairs for the majority of the way. Anyway, the trail is cool and you get to take a bit closer pictures.  Take the left! ;)

 On the trail is a handyman's museum where you can learn a bit of history about the museum and see what it was supposed to look like.  I think they either ran out of time or money, I don't remember what they said (I need to pay more attention). 

After we got done at Mt Rushmore we had icecream in the shop and left to see Crazy Horse.  Crazy Horse is about 10 miles from Mt Rushmore and you can see it from the road.  It costs $10 each person to get into that museum and neither one of us wanted to see it that bad.  We just took a picture from the road.  When the Crazy Horse Memorial is complete it will look really neat and I might want to see it, but I didn't want to that day. :/  I think it is so high to get in ($10 per person vs. $11 per car at Mt. Rushmore) because they are still building it and they aren't taking any government money.

After Crazy Horse we had a few hours left before everything closed (everything closes at 5!) so we went to the Cosmos Mystery Area!   I had seen an area like this on the Travel Channel and have always wanted to check one out.  Water travels uphill, people's heights change on level platforms, and more!  It was so cool but super hard to explain.  Just look at these photos and know that we are on level ground and gravity does weird things!

I am standing straight up in this picture, but it doesn't look like it.

This ball is traveling UP instead of the usual down on a slope (the same with water but I couldn't get a picture in time).

All the trees are growing in a weird direction in a few places throughout the property.

There are more cool things, but it's hard to explain.  Here is a list of mystery areas/gravity areas for you to see if there is one close to you so you can check one out (there are two in Texas).

After Cosmos we headed to dinner and then to check in to the hotel.   We fell asleep early that night and had to wake up the next morning to travel back.  Our flight was at two pm and we had a 5 hour trip back (plus an hour time change).  We got back to Houston at around 10:30 pm and my sister picked me up (Lili's brother picked her up) and I headed home. 

It was a fun trip!

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