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Archive for September, 2013

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

I have been aware of Mount Rushmore since my youth five years ago. Well, we finally had the opportunity to see this great feat of workmanship.

The man who spearheaded this huge task of carving into a granite hill was Gutzon Borglum. His dream was to create a special place to share the American dream.  The actual work began in 1927 and was completed in 1941. Explosives and jack hammers and the work of around 400 workers made this happen. The president’s faces displayed in the carved hill’s side are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.             DSC_0302

Each face is sixty feet tall. For instance to demonstrate the size, Washington’s eyes are each 11 feet in length and his nose is 21 feet long. Now that is a honker!

More Black Hills!

More Black Hills!

Laurie and I walked a boardwalk that allowed us to walk under this huge undertaking. Of course, Laurie found what she had been looking for here…Black Hill Gold ear rings!

Crazy Horse was a Lakota Sioux born around 1842.his life witnessed the final push of the Sioux Nation. he would be pulled into the great conflict and take part of the infamous “Custer’s Last Stand” in June of 1876.

In the year of 1868 the Treaty of 1868 was signed with the Sioux and the United States Government. In effect it stated: “As long as rivers run and grass grows and the tree bear fruit, Pahu Sapa-the Black Hills of Dakota will forever be the sacred lands of the Sioux Indians.”

IMG_1389    When the treaty failed, Crazy Horse took up arms against the United States. After such events as Wounded Knee (The United States government massacred over 200 Sioux, mostly women and children and the elderly.) the great Sioux nation became a defeated nation….sad!

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Upon their ceasing hostility against the whites, a soldier asked Crazy Horse, “Where are your lands now?” The great warriors response was, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.” He was stabbed by a soldier in 1877.

The Crazy Horse Memorial

The Crazy Horse Memorial

A man named, Korczak Ziolkowski took on this huge task of creating the Crazy Horse Memorial was begun in 1948. The image of the chief’s head is complete and much preliminary terracing of the mountain. It will be many years until completion. This man died in 1982 and through private funding the work continues. The horse’s head has been outlined and the hammering and controlled blasts will someday move forward towards the final result. A museum,  is on site.

IMG_1416We had an opportunity to watch a Sioux in traditional clothing talk about the happenings and history of the Sioux, he preformed some native songs and dance as well.                 DSC_0300

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Inside the lodge

Inside the lodge

Our eastward expansion crossed into the border of South Dakota. At the town of Spearfish we began heading southerly and there they were the magnificent Black Hills. The route to our lodge was squeezed between high steep rocky hills. These jutted from the ground level and mostly went straight towards the sky! The lodge we would be staying is the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. (Some scenes from the movie “Dances With Wolves” were shot a few miles from this lodge.)  

Spearfish Canyon Lodge

Spearfish Canyon Lodge

I stared in amazement at those grandiose rocky hills. Many glowed orange-yellow from the rays of the early evening sun. No wonder the Indians held the Black Hills with such reverence!

The glow!

The glow!

IMG_1353   A few native American tribes known to have inhabited this area of South Dakota were the Cheyenne; Kiowa; Pawnee; Crow and in the 18th century the Sioux. (Lakota) The latter arrived here from their earlier Minnesota range. The westward movements and the discovering of gold would eventually lead to war. The defeat of Custer in 1876 was  the result of this war. Wounded Knee is another well-known event because of this war. many Sioux women; elderly and children were massacred because of the American government’s need of these lands.                                 IMG_1354

From this lodging site we would be visiting such places as the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Morse Memorials and Devil’s Tower. (More of these adventures in a separate entry.)                                                     IMG_1367

Early in the following morning I would be exiting the lodge for a few hours of hiking. I left at 5:35A.M. This hike was in hopes of seeing the sun rising and illuminating the western rocks. I, also hoped to see wildlife. The hike was very photogenic, but all I saw was a Great Blue Heron and two kingfishers this morning. The thrill of wondering what was to be found around the next bend was exciting to me.

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Later while traveling to see some of the earlier sites we were able to see superb landscapes. I mentioned to Laurie how I could envision painted Sioux warriors quietly moving their ponies through the pine forests and grassy knolls. I could see these great men as if they were actually there!  Weird huh!            IMG_1456

Little Spearfish Falls

Little Spearfish Falls

The following morning allowed a shorter time for a hike. I emerged early again and headed up the Little Spearfish Creek. I wanted to see the Roughlock falls. I edged the watercourse seeing  great blue herons and a little gray bird known as the Dipper. this amazing bird feeds while walking underwater in fast-moving streams.

I discovered the falls and after some photographs I headed downstream again hating to need to cut this hike short. I approached a sizable pool of clear water and I could see many Cutthroat trout swimming about. If I only had a rod and reel!(The Cutthroat trout gets its name due to red colors on the gill cover.)        

Roughlock Falls

Roughlock Falls

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Over the last copy of days I was noticing a number of white-tailed deer. I would see a lot of these deer over the next several days! We saw the broad-tailed Hummingbird too.                                           IMG_1433

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DSC_0191  Leaving Yellowstone came about much too quickly, but there would be more beautiful and scenic observations to witness. We were heading east again. We traveled south of the Montana border and stopped in Cody, Wyoming. I have heard of Cody before.                                                                    DSC_0193

We saw spectacular high peaks and diversified terrain prior to reaching Cody. These hill consisted of rocky terrains in some places and very steep and others heavily forested slopes. Breathtaking is a word that comes to mind, but believe me no words can describe these sites. Photos can not capture the depths these sites either.        IMG_1302

The travel east continued and that “western feel” began to be felt again. We were entering cowboy country. Cattle and horse farms began to be viewed along the travels.                                              DSC_0244

DSC_0206   We stopped at the “Buffalo Bill Center of the West” in Cody, Wyoming.  This building proved to be a great museum. The time we had to search through this museum was not enough for  someone like myself. With my many interests a full day would have been required to explore all it had to offer.

The museum is divided into various points of interests. Of course, since I do art, I enjoyed the “Whitney Western Art” exhibit. Another great interest was the “Cody Firearm” exhibit. Thousands of firearms were visible here. There were firearms from pre-revolutionary War era to modern times. They had firearms and holsters from many of the old western television series such as: Bonanza and have Gun Will Travel….  DSC_0254

There is the “Draper Natural History” section located at this museum as well. I saw many mounted species of wildlife along with natural looking habitat.

IMG_1257   The same evening we attended the “Cody Stampede”. This is definitely a western rodeo. The rodeo featured bucking broncos; bucking bulls; calf roping events… They featured a kid event where any children from the audience were supposed to try to obtain a ribbon from a calf’s tail. There must have been close to 45-50 kids in the ring. One little guy was thrown into the air and no law suits.                  DSC_0226

The people here are NOT willing to play the political correct madness that has become thoroughly engrained within much of America. I really appreciated that! The announcers said much about maintaining their heritage.

DSC_0220   They had a “see who does the best being shot” event. Young kids playing cowboy and    would demonstrate their being shot acts. This was something I did often in my youth playing cowboys and Indians; Civil war; World war ll and so forth.    DSC_0229

We would be heading towards the Black Hills soon! Sioux territory!!

Mexican hat

Mexican hat

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