Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trip Post 5--Mt. Rushmore!

Mt. Rushmore was my kids' least favorite site, but it was one of my favorites. We also visited this one on the 80's trip when I was 10, but I was glad to see it again as an adult.

First of all, I love all 4 of the Presidents that are carved into Mt. Rushmore. Second, I enjoyed learning about the sculptor and a lot of the background information this time. Gutzon Borglum was an amazing, patriotic American sculptor. One fascinating fact about Borglum was the Woodrow Wilson memorial he sculpted in Poland. Hitler tore it down when he invaded Poland during World War II. It is widely thought that Hitler purposely destroyed it because of Borglum's public statements against Hitler. Awesome!!

Third, Teddy Roosevelt ended up being a controversial choice. Roosevelt was a personal friend of Borglum's and many thought that Roosevelt hadn't stood the test of history yet to determine whether he was a great president or not. History has proven that Roosevelt was a perfect choice. Although, I found it interesting that many had lobbied for Susan B. Anthony to be the 4th face on the monument. In fact, "in 1937, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the head of civil-rights leader Susan B. Anthony".

The Avenue of Flags has a flag for every state!

Our whole group, both of my parents, me and all 4 of my kids. It was a very cold day, but we were lucky because we just missed the snow. The day we were there it was nice and clear and the snow came in the next day.

The view from Presidential Trail!

My oldest daughter has a nice camera and she got some good shots of this cute chipmunk along the trail.

We saw quite a few of these neat mountain goats!

There were even more deer!

As we were leaving Mt. Rushmore, I blew kisses to the Presidents. My kids thought I was a little weird, can't imagine why!

There were deer everywhere as we were on the winding roads out of the park.

We didn't have time to actually visit Crazy Horse, but my Dad got some pics from the road.

Basic Mt. Rushmore facts:
-A historian named Doane Robinson wanted to bring visitors to South Dakota. So, he hired the famous artist/sculptor, Gutzon Borglum to scuplt a monument into the Black Hills.

-Robinson's original plan for the monument was to have it be of heroes of the American West, but Borglum decided he wanted it to be of national heroes, of American Presidents.

-It took 14 years (from 1927-1941) to carve the faces. It would've taken less (some estimate that it would've taken 6 years), but there were often delays because of lack of funds.

-About 400 workers helped carve, cut and blast the faces.

-The men hung from cables off the side of the mountain to work on Mt. Rushmore.

-Gutzon Borglum died before the monument was finished, so his son Lincoln (named after Abraham Lincoln) finished the work.

-Mt. Rushmore is the largest work of art on earth.

-In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge was vacationing in the Black Hills. While he was there, Borglum persuaded him to support and give a speech promoting Mt. Rushmore. He did so decked out in cowboy boots ;-).

-Mt. Rushmore wasn't officially dedicated until July 3, 1991 by President H.W.Bush.

-The 4 Presidents on Mt. Rushmore are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln

--Borglum was personally friends with Teddy Roosevelt and his choice of him for the fourth carving was controversial. Some had wanted the last face to be Susan B. Anthony.

--Mount Rushmore by Susan Ashley
--Mount Rushmore by Dana Meachen Rau
--What is Mount Rushmore? by Laine Falk
--Mount Rushmore by Susan Koehler
--Mount Rushmore by Andrew Santella
--Mount Rushmore by Laura Hahn
--Discover Mount Rushmore

Related Posts:
Trip Post 1--Grand Canyon!
Trip Post 2--Sequoia National Park!
Trip Post 3--Yosemite National Park!
Trip Post 4--Redwood National Park!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trip Post 4--Redwood National Park!

During the Summer of 1980, when I was around the same age as my youngest son, my parents took my brothers and I on a trip out West. On that trip, we didn't make it to the Grand Canyon, Sequoia or Yosemite but we did make it to the Redwoods.

My parents were much more adventurous and energetic than I, and we camped during that entire trip. Of course, having tent camped so much during my childhood, I now say thats why I'm a cabin girl. I've served my time tent camping ;-)! It doesn't help that my Dad worked for the U.S. Forest Service. So, we stayed at their campgrounds which never had running water, which translates to no showers and no flushing toilets.

Anyway, I digress, during that visit we saw tons of the above Banana slugs while camping. During this trip, this was the only one we saw and my Mom said it was much smaller than all the ones we saw during the '80 trip.

We also saw lots of Roosevelt Elk, named after one of my favorite presidents, Teddy Roosevelt. I got to see Teddy Roosevelt mentioned at most of the parks because of his conservation efforts and his love for wildlife, nature and parks in general.

Recently, I was grading my daughter's homework and I found this quote in her History curriculum that I thought was excellent. It shows the difference between Teddy Roosevelt's love for nature and some modern day environmentalists:
Unlike most modern-day environmentalists, Theodore Roosevelt did not believe that nature should be preserved for nature's sake. He believed that the nation's natural resources were to be managed for the benefit of future generations.

Of course, even as a 10 year old during my first trip to the Redwoods, I was amazed by these magnificent trees. They are just phenomenal!

We hiked for awhile down some paths and the forests are just beautiful. God's creation is breathtaking. They had these huge 3 leaf clovers, I picked a couple which I pressed to put in my scrapbook.

Basic Redwoods Facts:
-Redwoods are the tallest living things on the planet and among the oldest living things on the earth
-Redwoods have a built-in resistance to disease, insects and fires because their wood contains a chemical called tannin
-Redwood National Park is located in Northern California
-Jedediah Smith was the 1st American known to explore the Redwoods area
-The movies "Return of the Jedi" and "Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World" included scenes from Redwood National Park
-The Roosevelt Elk are one of the largest animals at Redwood National Park. They were named after Teddy Roosevelt who helped save them from extinction.

--The Redwood Coast
--Welcome to Redwood National and State Parks
--Redwood National Park

Related Posts:
Trip Post 1--Grand Canyon!
Trip Post 2--Sequoia National Park!
Trip Post 3--Yosemite National Park!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Trip Post 3--Yosemite National Park!

Yosemite was the only park that we spent two days at. As we entered it on the first day, we got some shots of the granite Half Dome from a distance.

We then headed to Bridalveil Fall. According to all the books I read, the falls were supposed to be dried up by the end of the summer and early fall. Yet, not only were they not dried up, but they were going at full force.

El Capitan is the other famous granite structure at Yosemite. We used my Dad's binoculars and were able to see rock climbers climbing it. People come from all over the world to climb it.

When I was looking up books for the kids for the trip, I stumbled upon a book about the Yosemite murders. Since, I have an interest in crime stories I decided to read it on the trip. One of the women that Stayner murdered, worked at Yosemite and had done some rock climbing on El Capitan. She had to sleep over night in a sling hanging off of it, because you can't climb El Capitan in just one day.

Yosemite Falls was a little easier to get close to than Bridalveil had been.

We got to see yet another bear. This one was a little farther away and was resting most of the time.

This sign cracked us up because there seemed to be no concern for injuring people, just make sure you don't hurt the bears!

This was the gorgeous view from Glacier Point!

I made sure to take the picture of the above ledge because of a book I bought at the gift shop. The book is entitled, Pioneers in Petticoats. Its about Yosemite's early women from 1856-1900. As you can see from the cover below, it shows 2 of the first women to explore Yosemite doing kicks off the edge of the ledge. When you actually see it in real life, its even more terrifying to envision them doing that.

Basic Yosemite facts:
-1864-President Lincoln signed a bill to protect Yosemite Valley
-1890-Yosemite was only the 3rd to become a national park
-Yosemite is located within the Sierra Nevada mountains in Central California
-John Muir fought to protect Yosemite
-3.5 million people visit Yosemite in a typical year
-El Capitan is the world's largest exposed granite cliff
-There are 3 groves of Sequoia trees with Mariposa grove being the largest and most famous
-The most famous and the oldest living Sequoia in Yosemite is Grizzly Giant which is in Mariposa Grove
--The Yosemite Murders
--Yosemite National Park
--Yosemite National Park (Symbols of Freedom)
--Welcome to Yosemite National Park
--Yosemite National Park (National Parks)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Trip Post 2--Sequoia National Park!

Sequoia National Park was my kids' favorite park out of the 5 we visited. It wasn't because of the spectacular trees, although, they were impressed. It was because we got to see 5 bears up close in the wild.

Also, 2 hikers had been missing for over a week and were found on the day we visited. I bought local newspapers on the trip, whenever I got a chance, and I had read about the missing hikers that morning. During the day, we saw the rescue helicopter, and that night on the news we saw that they had been found.

We started out at a Visitor's center, and then made our way to "The Sentinel Tree".

After that we made our way to Moro Rock. My parents and the kids and I started up the 400-step stairway to the top. The older 3 kids sped ahead with my Dad. My Mom was walking slowly and my youngest son and I were taking each turn as it came. I finally got to a certain part, and in my mind I knew I wasn't going up any higher. At the same time, my son said he was ready to head back down, so it worked out well ;-). The older kids and my Dad made it to the top. They were literally in the clouds, and the view was wonderful.

Its amazing when you see people, or even a vehicle next to the trees. It gives you some perspective on how awesome they are.

We then headed to "General Sherman", which is the biggest living thing in the world. Redwoods are taller, but Sequoias are bigger.

We were walking back up the trail from seeing "General Sherman" when we saw the bears. The kids had run ahead, which we heard many times later at that park and others, "children should not run ahead because of bears and mountain lions, etc..".

The bears were completely oblivious to the fact that we were there. Before we arrived, we found out that a Mama Brown Bear had gotten into a spat with a Black Bear because the black bear had gotten too close to her cubs. Mama Bear had 2 cubs and she was way up in a tree whipping down pine cones to them. There was also another brown bear on the scene. It was amazing how close we were to them. My Dad worked for the U.S. Forest Service his whole life and this was his first time seeing bears in the wild. It was a sight to see.

I made sure I was close to my kids and after awhile we figured we shouldn't tempt fate anymore, and we left.

Basic Sequoia National Park facts:
--There are 388 National Park Areas in the U.S.
--Sequoia National Park was created in 1890
--John Muir was instrumental in protecting/preserving this park as well as Yosemite and others
--It is located in Central California
--It is high in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range
--It is famous for having some of the biggest trees in the world
--There are 2 surviving kinds of Sequoia trees--the redwood & the giant sequoia
--The Sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years, in part because they are fire-resistant
--There are about 30 Sequoia groves at the park
--One of the largest is the "Giant Forest"
--The "General Sherman" tree is located in the Giant Forest, it is named after the famous Civil War general and the tree is the BIGGEST living thing in the WORLD

--Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks