Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Summer Road Trip By Emaad A.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, my family went to Mt. Rushmore. It took 14 hours to get there. On the way there, my sister and I watched some movies like Shirley Temple’s Bright Eyes and the Trumpet of the Swan.

After our long drive we got to the hotel. Since none of us were tired my dad decided to take us to Crazy Horse Memorial. By the time my family got there it was 8:30 and there was a show called “A Legend in Lights” where they lit images on the mountain to tell the story of Crazy Horse, the show was at 9 o’ clock. To pass the time my family and I went around the small museum and watched a movie about the sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski who had started working on the mountain but died before the face was complete. Finally it was time for the show. We went to our car where we had a good view of the mountain and watched the show. It was amazing how the lights looked on the mountain even though they were projected from the ground. The show told the story of both Crazy Horse and Korczak with different animations.

In the morning I thought I’d be off to Mt. Rushmore, I WISH. First my dad had to find what was happening at Mt. Rushmore and after that my mom made us clean up the car. All in all the morning was a drag. Mt. Rushmore has fireworks on the third of July, that’s when I discovered that not everyplace has fireworks on the Fourth. When we drove past Mt. Rushmore, we saw people getting seats for the fireworks which started at 9:15pm and it was only 10 o’ clock in the morning right then. We could not find a place to park and had to just wave at the presidents as we drove past.

My dad thought we should go to Jewel Cave instead. My mom saw a flyer about the Junior Ranger Program at Jewel Cave National Park. In the program, the Park Rangers give you a sheet of paper that has questions about the national park and if you get them right you are awarded a Junior Ranger Badge. My mom compelled my sister and I to do the Junior Ranger Program. Examples of questions were, how is a forest fire most likely to start? Or, what stone is Jewel Cave mostly made of? You could find answers to these questions by reading the displays or asking a Ranger. When we finished, the Ranger gave us a badge that said, “Junior Ranger Jewel Cave National Park." Then we drove in to the town next door called Custer to eat and get my dad a sweater because the temperature in Jewel Cave is always below 49 degrees.

At two in the afternoon my family and I went down into Jewel Cave. The ranger told us how Jewel Cave got its name. The story is that two brothers were riding their horses in the forest and they heard a whistling sound. They followed the sound and saw that it was coming from a hole, they went into Custer and got some dynamite and blew the hole wider so that both of them could fit through. When the brothers shone their light it reflected of the walls making the cave look as if it was made out of “jewels.” The jewels in the cave are just red rock that reflected light. The sound was air passing through the cave. Even though the Cave wasn’t made of jewels they both devised a plan to make lots of money by giving tours. The tour I went on was amazing, there were many rock formations of different colors and sizes.

After the tour, we drove to Mt. Rushmore. It took us a long time to get there and find parking because everyone wanted to see the fireworks by the national monument. We found a good spot to watch the fireworks just ten minutes before they were supposed to begin. A fighter jet flew above the monument so fast that it shook me enough to loose my balance. Mt. Rushmore’s fireworks are rated eighth best in the nation - I believe them! The fireworks exploded with a boom in all the colors of the rainbow. They looked like colored rain over Mt. Rushmore. It was a fantastic sight to see and I will remember it always.

In the morning we went to Mt. Rushmore again except this time we were able to enter the monument and see it up close from a balcony. We also went to the museum and did the Junior Ranger program at Rushmore. I saw a movie about the sculpting of Mt. Rushmore. In one of the various exhibits they showed a jackhammer that was used in the making of Mt. Rushmore. The most interesting thing I learned was that Lincoln’s nose fell of about five years ago and they had to reattach it.

After that we went to Badlands National Park. We saw lots of animals like bison and mountain sheep and a variety of birds. I even heard some rattlesnakes but I never saw them. The mountains were awesome. Some of them looked pink. Other looked like candy corn with yellow bottoms and orange peaks. There were also small trails with fossils of weird looking mammals. My sister and I both earned another Junior Ranger badge at the park. After Badlands we went to Sioux Falls.

On the way to Sioux Falls we stopped at a place called Wall Drug. Everything at Wall Drug was western and there where many shops selling everything from hunting gear to ice cream to historic artifacts like bones and fossils of dinosaurs. I got drenched at Wall Drug while playing in the water park. We arrived at Sioux Falls late because of our pit stop.

In the morning we went to Sioux Falls, the actual waterfall the town is named after. It was small. So small that I was surprised the town was named after it. I climbed the many rocks and boulders that surrounded the waterfall. It was more entertaining than contemplating the waterfall.

When we returned home I felt like we returned from a great adventure out west. Even though my family had a great time in South Dakota, we were all happy to be back were we belonged. If your family is planning on a summer road trip consider going to South Dakota. The vast Black Hills, the extraordinary sites like Mt. Rushmore and Jewel Cave are all worth the trip.