Thursday 17 July

Trip Start Apr 13, 2008
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Trip End Oct 27, 2008


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Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thursday 17th July
 
Today we drove straight to Mount Rushmore. The weather was not great but that didn't seem to stop people from pouring into this National Monument.
 
This place is awe-inspiring! For those people who don't know what I am talking about, this is the place where the faces of 4 presidents have been carved into the rock face. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.
 
Holly and Zach completed yet another Junior Ranger sheet so they learned heaps. We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit which was made even more interesting with the free guided tour. We even met a man who was in the book shop who was one of the men who helped carved these enormous faces high up on the rock face. They started it in 1927 and stopped 14 years later when the money ran out and the war was going on in Europe. Also the architect died so they decided not to continue with the project.
 
George Washington's face is the most prominent and was the first to be completed. The other 3 faces are sort of poking out behind and to the side of him. Lincoln's face, although finished, looks as though it could have had had more work done on the left side so maybe that just didn't get done before they were forced to stop.
 
Anyway there was quite a bit to see as they also had the original studio where they house the model that was used to get the measurements from. The sculpture is 12 times the size of the model so every inch on the model became 1 foot on the real thing.  I was not just a great piece of art, but an enormously successful engineering feat.
 
The rain came and we dashed back to our van to eat some lunch and then set off across the black hills to Jewel Cave.  The kids have never been in a cave before so we thought this would be fun.
 
We went on a tour which turned out to be rather dull and was only 20 minutes long.  We should have perhaps gone on a longer one where we went down deep into the caves but we had arrived fairly late on in the day, Steve had a really bad headache and I think we were knackered and made a bad decision. We even fell asleep during the 20 minute educational film about the caves! Oh dear, something tells me we might just have been over doing things a bit!!
 
The caves are really amazing though and what they originally thought was a one room cave in the early twentieth Century has turned out to be one of the largest in the world with 80 miles of passages so far. They know that there is probably the same amount not yet explored. It is just going to take them years to find it all.
 
We had a hiccup with our camp site that promised wireless internet connection but it didn't happen so we packed up and left.  We ended up in a Nat.Forest Campsite which is very basic, with only a long-drop toilet and nothing else. We thought it was great as it was in the trees and we had a camp fire in the pit provided.  The kids were keen to have a fire so they could have toasted Marshmallows again, so that's what we did. 
 
We had 2 separate storms later on in the night.  The first one was what I would describe as a normal thunderstorm with a few flashes followed by the clap of thunder. About an hour after that one died down we got the really nasty one like the ones I have described before. They are like something out of a horror movie and you feel like you've been really bad to deserve something this awful. Terrible wind and scary constant lightening, hail and more thunder. I can't tell you how much I hate these kinds of storms and it is no wonder that Zach gets anxious about them.  Oddly though, while we are enduring this terrible thing the kids are so good and lie there quietly. Maybe Zach is so terrified he just freezes to his bed!
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