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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Helicopter over Mount Mushmore

No, it’s not a typo; it’s what happens when you’re all excited about your upcoming road trip, and babble too fast. And then your spouse catches you and teases you about it, and from then on you can never call it anything else.

First stop today was the Pet Motel outside of Custer. We took the kids to day camp so we wouldn’t be limited by what we could do with them in the car. It was the first day of really clear, sunny weather since we arrived out here.

Today was also Joyce’s 65th birthday and to mark the occasion we went on a half-hour chopper ride over Crazy Horse, Rushmore and the Black Hills. Joyce is terrified of heights but loves helicopters, and this was the perfect day for it. It was just a little one, five seats, and the birthday girl sat in front with the pilot, leaving me the entire back seat to myself. Besides, she took all the pictures, so I just looked to my heart’s content without the camera in front of my face.

Tourist season hasn’t really gotten underway yet, so there was no waiting for our ride. As soon as we paid, we took off. The pad is right close to Crazy Horse, so the pilot left that for last and took us to Mushmore first. You come around the back and then whap! You’re up in their faces. They said we couldn’t get “close” but I have no idea what they meant because we were THERE. It was BIG.

And it looked nice. What can I say? Yeah, it doesn’t really belong there, but to think of the work that went into it! So we flew around enough for great pictures and then we went on to the Needles again, and we could see all the places we had been the day before, and all the little tiny people and cars that were there that day. It was very clear and just breath-taking. And because bison are big and stand around out in the open, you can see entire herds of them down in the park.

Finally, Crazy Horse. Right up in his face that’s ten times larger than Mushmore, and which, if anything should be carved there at all, at least belongs there.

I mean, what were we THINKING???? To carve white men on sacred native American land??? Hello? How could we (white Europeans) be so frickin’ oblivious? Manifest destiny, my ass. Anyway, Mushmore is there and short of dynamiting it, I guess there’s not much else we can do except respect the land and the first people and finish Crazy Horse.

So, the helicopter ride was great, and then we drove to Mushmore and got THAT whole story.

Believe me, that’s screwed up, too, in its own way. The bottom line is, if you’re going to create a monument, first, don’t let the federal government get involved, and second, don’t die till you’re done. If necessary, get a double to stand around until the work is finished. I hope the guy building Sagrada Familia in Barcelona knows all this.

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