Embrace the unexpected! Rule number 1 for both life and RV adventures. While some travelers like to plan out their routes and stops on it with exacting detail, we generally prefer to make our reservations as we go, leaving us flexibility to make many detours along the way. Such was the case when we realized getting to Mt. Rushmore in time for their July 3-4 celebration was possible. Our home base while there was the Heartland RV Park in the tiny town of Hermosa, SD. We looked out our front window at the setting for ‘Little House on the Prairie’, complete with horses. On a recommendation we took the ‘back way’ to Mt. Rushmore (Hwy 36 to 16A) through some of the most scenic country we’ve seen so far. We passed beautiful green hills, small ranches, The Elk Haven Horse Camp, then skirted Custer State Park, and drove through Black Hills National Forest toward Mt. Rushmore. We entered several short, square, single lane ‘honking’ tunnels. I refer to them as such not because they are large, but because you honk as you enter to stop traffic from entering from the other direction. Mt.Rushmore is first visible from about five miles away, perfectly framed by one of the tunnels. I would highly recommend driving in from this direction.
I hadn’t been here since the 60’s, so this was a bit like experiencing it for the first time for both William & I. Wonderful exhibits in the Lincoln-Borglum Museum are not to be missed. There is a short movie shown there that gives a new understanding of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. For instance, I never knew that he studied under Auguste Rodin, did you? Construction began in 1927 and completion was in 1941. It was a great, though intermittent, source of employment during those depression years. Borglum died before it was completed, and his son, Lincoln, completed his work.
We witnessed the following in the beautiful amphitheater at Mt. Rushmore’s base: 7pm USAF induction swearing in, 7:25 Vet’s recognition for 92 year old WASP Ola Mildred Rexroat, who learned to fly a plane before she learned to drive a car, 8pm B1B Flyover from nearby Ellsworth AFB (very cool), 8:15 Black Hills Symphony played, being interrupted twice by ‘rain breaks’, a common phenomenon here, and at 9:40 the fantastical “Lighting Ceremony.” By this hour it was windy & chilly, but we hung in there. There were no fireworks due to fire danger, but honestly, they just weren’t necessary…these glowing, larger-than-life men were more than enough!
Yours from the road on this 4th of July,
Cathy & William
About Yours From The Road
Yours From The Road documents the 110,000 mile motor home journey of staff writer Cathy Burford and her husband Bill. Come along as their motor home, affectionately referred to as the “Queen Mary,” casts off her lines and pushes away from the dock to explore the embarrassing wealth of natural beauty, amazing regional cuisine, and rich history of the land we all call home.