Saturday, June 9, 2012

A new love: Black Hills, South Dakota

The kids...with Brutus and "home" sneaking into the picture :)

The day after we arrived in South Dakota was Mother's Day.  My family treated me to sweet notes, lunch at Longhorns after church, flowers, and lots of hugs and kisses.  I'm so honored to be the mom of these three amazing kids.  I'm so grateful they extend me so much grace!

After our BBQ dinner, they put on a show.
They wrote and sang a song about me, their MOM.
They are signing the "O" in Mom :)
From the moment we crossed into South Dakota, we knew we were going to be exploring a lot this week!  We love the Black Hills of South Dakota!  We had no idea there is so much to do here.  We'd love to explore all the drives and hikes that this area offers, but we don't have that kind of time.  So, off we go to the "must sees".

Day ONE:

Crazy Horse Memorial
For more information about the history, frequently asked questions, and more... check out this link:

Along with the memorial itself, there is an introductory film, museums and collections to explore.

A small chunk of the mountain.

A crafter's dream come true:  bottles and bottles of organized colored beads!!
These are beads that Native Americans use for their beadwork.
Daniel is standing in front of the finished sculpture that is the inspiration for the mountain behind it.

Mt. Rushmore National Monument

First glimpse of Mt. Rushmore!
We were very surprised at how excited the kids were to see Mt. Rushmore!  They kept saying how they couldn't wait to get there.
When Jolie first saw George Washington peeking out, she was practically in tears of joy.  She has seen Mt. Rushmore photos on cereal boxes and in movies and couldn't believe that she was actually there!!!!  Her excitement really made this National Park stop special.

The Avenue of Flags
We're finally here!!!!

After our excitement of finally seeing Mt. Rushmore, we headed to the visitor center to learn more about it and pick up junior ranger booklets.

Working on their junior ranger booklets in the Sculptor's Studio.
This is a to scale model of the mountain (which you can see right outside that window to the left.)
They used this model for the measurements they needed on the mountain.
The men working on the mountain did so sitting in one of these!
We hiked the trail to the base of the mountain:

Who do we look like?  Hm.....
George (DT), Thomas (JC), Teddy (F), and Abe (me)
We concluded the hike at the visitor center.

The visitor center was so cool...the kids got to set off dynamite!
Mt. Rushmore Junior Rangers
We got to Mt. Rushmore in the late afternoon so that we could experience the evening lighting ceremony. So after exploring the park, finishing the junior ranger program, and eating dinner...
we enjoyed the evening and waited for sunset.

Daniel reading from his new book:  Quotations of George the reflection of
the monument :)
It's time for the evening lighting ceremony!

The ceremony was better than we expected.  It was so patriotic!
A ranger led the program with some moving words about our country and the presidents.  Then we watched a film about the four presidents selected for the mountain.  All four men were incredible visionaries.  After the film, to patriotic music... the lights were turned on:

The ranger ended the program by asking all US military veterans to come down for the flag folding ceremony.  After the flag was folded, each of us passed it down the line while giving our name and branch of service.  It was a very moving moment for all of us.
Jon and I are in the back row of the group on the right.
There was a man standing in front of me in black shorts and brown shirt on the far left of the group.
Then you see me, then Jon.
Photographer:  Daniel
Team Monty had a wonderful day exploring one of America's most famous monuments.  We left with our hearts full of pride and respect for this great nation.


  1. The lighting ceremony is amazing! Last time we were there, Kent got to help with the flag lowering and folding. It was so special to see. So glad we got to know your family and hope to meet up with you again in our travels. Thinking Smokies for the fall.....

  2. Thank you for visiting Rapid City and the Black Hills area! We hope you enjoyed your stay!