Let me be straight with you all: I'd be lying if I told you that this trip was a vacation. Though I'm 100% grateful for the opportunity to see places I've only read about, I've actually spent most of my time working or driving.
Now, I'm not complaining. Not one bit. This trip is a gift and it's been worthwhile in more ways than I can even describe. All I'm trying to convey is that time spent exploring has been wedged between serious email sessions, audio wrangling, some pretty long hauls on the road and interviews. So, when I have a few free hours to see the sights, I'm absolutely making the most of it.
When I had a morning in Rapid City, South Dakota, I just knew I needed to head for the hills to check out the monuments I've seen in documentaries and history books my entire life.
I've heard that Mount Rushmore can be a bit underwhelming, but I didn't find that to be the case. I actually gasped when I turned a corner only to see the monument staring back at me.
A little tip for those who visit: go early in the day in the middle of the week, preferably after schools are back in session. It was nearly empty at 9 a.m., but started to fill up around 10:30 a.m.
The monuments and the history that comes with them are fascinating, but I think I was most enamored by the surrounding area. The Black Hills are striking, to say the least, and I cannot wait to get back there and explore a bit more.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is incredible. Not only is it huge (Mount Rushmore would basically fit into the area that will be Crazy horse's head), but the story behind it is so moving. If you ever have a chance to visit the area, don't skip out on this one. Apparently, you can get a bit closer than I did by taking a bus tour (they also have special events!), but I decided to save that for next time. I'll definitely be back.
So tell me, friends: have you ever been to the Black Hills area of South Dakota? What was your favorite part?