Amazing Mount Rushmore

After we finished the three day preacher’s conference in Sioux Falls,  and the trip to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little town of De Smet, South Dakota, we headed west to see Mount Rushmore. It was out of the way and we were exhausted by the time we arrived, but when we saw the “four faces” (as Matthew calls it) for the first time, we were in awe!

I took about two hundred photos there – yes, you read that right – but I soon realized you can only photograph the side of a mountain so many times and in so many ways. It’s not like their expression will change! Haha! I did capture several different angles though. I noticed that the mountain looked different in the sunlight verses the shade, too. I enjoyed trying out my zoom lens and different settings on my camera. We had to drive seven hours after our Mt. Rushmore visit so that we could be home by Saturday, so we tried to hurry. We took a two mile hike, which led us to see the monument from different vantage points. I was so thankful that God allowed us to see it in the autumn! I can’t imagine it looking any prettier any other time of year. I was also thankful for the gorgeous day God gave us to see it. That area has already seen snow this year, so we were a bit nervous about driving and viewing conditions. All in all, it was a marvelous trip. I praise the Lord for allowing us this opportunity and for guiding us safely there and back again. Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos I took.

DSC_0352

 

On our way from one side of South Dakota to the other, we passed through Pierre, the state capital. We learned that they pronounce it “peer”. We also learned that you can drive right up beside the capitol building and get your photo taken without any trouble at all! Pierre is only about 13,000 people, which is a fairly low population for a state capital. It was a lovely city though! We enjoyed our last fast food meal for the trip here.

first

 

Our first sight of Mount Rushmore!

The following photos are from the hike we took. I was able to get various angles of the monument. Hope they don’t bore you. 🙂

rush-trees

mtrushbluesky

I loved the really blue sky in this one.

mtrush-trees mtrush cave

Along the hike, you can go inside this cave and look up at the monument to see George Washington looming above you.

lincoln

My zoom lens on the Nikon allowed me to get *really* close to the faces. Look how the eyes are made! Fascinating.

explosives

Around the base of the monument, you can see the stones that were blasted from the granite mountainside. The long divot in the rock in the center is from the explosives. They drilled into the granite, slid in dynamite and the explosion formed part of a face. In fact, 90% of the monument was shaped with dynamite! Amazing!

Mitch-climb

Mitchell climbed up this huge rock. Behind him is the sculptor’s studio. Gutzon Borglum, the designer and main sculptor, worked in this studio where he could see the progress on the project out of the huge windows (which are behind this boulder in the photo).

original

Inside the studio, you can see this scale of what the finished monument was supposed to look like. I love how it looks, but it would have been really wonderful to have seen it all finished.

us-2

I enjoyed seeing the lovely autumn leaves so much. It’s one of the things I miss about home.

us-mtrush

What a joy to see this with my best friend! Every day is an adventure with this guy. 😉

sillyme

Tada! Just being silly.

I take my kids’ photos every year for frames in my living room. It’s an easy way to decorate! I was planning to snap their photos at the Wildlife Refuge near our home, but haven’t had the time. One look at the fall leaves in South Dakota and I decided I’d take the photos right there!

[Note to family members: feel free to right-click and save, if you wish. I will try to develop these and mail some out, but it may take a while.]

Lauren

Mitch

Leslie2

Laci

Matt

We discovered on the way home that driving through western South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma is bleak. There are few gas stations and restaurants, so we did a lot of praying! 😉 We did see a lot of the  “bread basket of the U.S.”, and we are thankful for the farmers who keep us fed.

This journey was a wonderful experience for our family. Thanks for tagging along with us.

With love,

sig

Visiting the Little Town on the Prairie

The setting sun’s rays danced through the blue sheers on my long, skinny bedroom window. The day was bidding adieu, which meant Mom and Dad would be home soon. Supper preparations would begin and we would get in our places around the table. We would be together, enjoying food and each other’s company and I would be storing up memories for the days to come. There were only three of us, now that Melanie was away at college in Chicago. Even though I often got a lump in my throat as I sat beside her empty chair at the table, there was a comfort in knowing that at least I had Mom and Dad.

And Laura.

I always had Laura Ingalls Wilder with me. She took me away, away from the loneliness I felt at night, now that Melanie was no longer there to whisper to me in the darkness. I could always turn my bedside lamp to the lowest setting, slide my book beneath the dim light and viola! I was suddenly surrounded by a whole family! Laura, Pa, Ma, Carrie, baby Grace, Mr. Edwards, Almanzo, even nasty Nellie Oleson – they were all there, making me smile, despite the deep down sadness I carried. They made me see the bonds of love that are within a family. They made me value my own snug little house in the city, and most of all, my own Dad and Mom, who were every bit as wonderful as Charles and Caroline. I would finally get drowsy enough that even loneliness could not stop sleep. As I drifted off, I wondered if I could ever talk my dad into taking me there – to the places where Laura walked with Mary, “seeing” the sunset, the wheat fields, the birds and the sky for her. Could I ever see the house where she lived? No, of course not. Mom and Dad worked too hard and had too much going on to make such a long trip.

Years passed. I met many new friends through various and sundry books, but no one held the place that Laura did. Then one day, I had the chance to visit a “Laura” place – for there were many! That first trip was to Malone, New York, (the scene of Laura’s book Farmer Boy). We visited there as we passed through on our way to Montreal, Canada. It was a thrill! But, the thrills didn’t end there! In May of 2013, I got to see Laura and Almanzo’s home in Mansfield, Missouri. I got to see Pa’s fiddle, Laura’s embroidery and quilting, and countless other items from the books.

This past week, my husband had the chance to attend a preacher’s conference in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and he offered to take us along. Sioux Falls is about two hours from where Pa farmed a homestead claim in De Smet, South Dakota! Terry graciously agreed to take all of us there, and by doing that he allowed me to fulfill a childhood dream. I did it –  I walked where Laura walked. I visited the places she wrote about: the homestead claim, the school, the surveyor’s house, the Brewster School, Pa and Ma’s house, and finally, their graves. It was like coming home to place I’d only seen in my mind, but felt as though I knew so well.

I suppose all of this seems silly to my practical readers, those of you who deal with reality head-on. I am the type who needs that escape that only literature can provide. In other words, I live with my head in the clouds! 🙂  I’m thankful for the written words that have comforted me all these years, beginning with God’s Word, the Bible. If you’d like to join me on this trek to the little town of De Smet, South Dakota, then I welcome you! If you’ve never met Laura, go find her at your local library. You won’t regret it.

prairie

 We climbed up four flights of stairs to get a lovely panoramic view of the homestead claim. I enjoyed using my zoom lens!

church

The buildings on this land are only replicas, but the land goes all the way back to when Pa followed behind a plow and sowed his first crop.

DSC_0184

cat2

There are several cats located on this property. They relished the attention from the girls, because they are used to children playing with them. We were there in the “off season”, so they were getting lonely. Unfortunately, Leslie broke out in hives soon after holding this kitty, so she had to take Benadryl. She was tired the rest of the day. I am allergic to cats, too, so this is as close to them as I got.

cat

 Laci is a big cat lover! Too bad we just can’t handle them with our allergies.

wagon Kids-homestead

cottonwoods

These are the cottonwood trees that Pa planted in honor of his girls. Laura and Almanzo visited De Smet only one time after they moved to Missouri, and that was in 1931. She confirmed that these were the trees on that visit. The fall colors were simply gorgeous! Across from these trees is the Big Slough, where Laura and Carrie got lost in the tall grass and met Almanzo Wilder for the first time.

surveyor'shouse

Back in town, we got to tour the actual house where the Ingalls family lived the winter of 1879. I couldn’t take photos inside, but it was really fun  to see where they had lived. If those walls could talk! Oh wait, Laura already spoke for them. 🙂

The two photos below are of the Brewster school – yes, the actual building! This is the first school where Laura taught when she was only fifteen. She never wanted to teach, but did her best at it so that she could earn money to keep Mary in college in Iowa. It was quite an ordeal which she shares in the book, These Happy Golden Years.

brewster school 2 brewster school school -bell

Mitch is ringing the bell in front of the school building where Laura and Carrie attended. This school is also mentioned in These Happy Golden Years.

DSC_0273

Ingallshouse

We also got to tour the house Pa built after he sold his homestead claim. He built it in town, close to the church. When he died, Caroline rented out some of the rooms to support herself and Mary. This is where both Charles and Caroline died.

I definitely relished this trip more than anyone else in the family, but I think everyone enjoyed at least part of it. During the tours, the kids were able to ask intelligent questions about Laura and her life because I’ve read all the books aloud to them – not for school, but for sheer pleasure, because that’s what the books gave to me.

Thank you so much for being here.

With love,

sig