Tourism. It’s such a silly concept, isn’t it? Think about it. You go to an overly priced, overly exaggerated hot spot in order to roam around in a busy crowd of other random tourists and take a few selfies with the tourist attraction in the background while your camera struggles to auto focus on your face or the attraction you are witnessing -er- turning your back to. Then, after likely spending more time taking pictures and posting them on social media rather than actually enjoying whatever it is you came there to see, you go to a ridiculously over-priced gift shop for a t-shirt to remember the occasion. Yeah, I know. Wow. Harsh… It’s okay. We’ve all been guilty of it. I sure have been! And that’s exactly what happened when we visited Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse in South Dakota.
After a short stop in Rapid City, South Dakota to get our oil checked (Shout to I-90 RV & Auto Superstore for your honesty!), we cruised toward Mount Rushmore. There were signs for miles helping tourists navigate to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. After a long haul up a mountain (which seemed like an eternity in an 11 ton RV), we paid a $10.00 admission and got priority parking for being in such a large vehicle. We learned from the signs that dogs were not welcome within the Mt. Rushmore viewing area, so we fired up the generator for the animals and made the short walk to the monument. It was busy, but the crowd wasn’t unbearable. We strolled beneath the flags accenting the walkway to the viewing area, dodging family photos and taking pictures for ourselves. Then there it was…Mt. Rushmore; an amazing piece of artwork which I once believed was carved into the stone purely by the forces of nature. Oh, don’t you love young, irrational minds?
And I did what every tourist does. I took pictures. I took pictures of the monument, I took pictures of Gina looking at the monument, and I participated in FaceTime moments so others back home could see the monument with us. I even specifically posed as if I were totally in awe of the monument just for that perfect shot. And then what did I do? I walked to the gift shop. The only thing that makes that whole thing a little less embarrassing is that I went to the gift shop to buy for others, not myself.
As we were exiting the gift shop and on our way to the RV, I started to reflect on the last 15 minutes I had just wasted. A sight truly one of a kind unbelievable, and I wasted it. I didn’t stop to appreciate how long it must have taken the workers to carefully carve all that stone. I didn’t stop to silently praise the workers who spent so much time and energy creating the masterpiece. I didn’t stop to care why the monument was created in the first place… And from that moment on, I vowed to never be a “tourist” again. I will go to tourist attractions, but I will be present. I will spend less time taking photographs and more time making memories. I highly recommend visiting Mt. Rushmore, and if you do, or if you have, please share with me one fact you learned while there. Share more knowledge and less pictures. One or two will do.
What can I say about Crazy Horse? Well, not a whole lot besides just don’t. I mean, do – if you want to spend $22.00 for two people to enter the park only to find out that you need to pay an extra $4.00 each for a bus ticket to take you to the monument. Do – if you want to hang out in the museum and see the profile of Crazy Horse’s face from quite a distance instead of taking the bus up. Otherwise, just don’t. I’m not saying Crazy Horse monument wouldn’t be worth it, all I’m saying is to know what you are paying for, and research and plan your day there ahead of time. There are quite a few activities and things to do for kids including a nightly laser light show, and I can definitely see a day being spent at the Crazy Horse Monument would be a great family activity. It just wasn’t for me. I truly had no idea what to expect before pulling up to the ticket booth and reading the brochure I was given to see exactly what I was there for.
If you can take anything away from this blog post, let it be this: Be present (I know I’ve said it before, but even I need a reminder), and do your research! Sometimes it’s fun flying by the seat of your pants. Sometimes it costs you $22.00 for nothing. You win some, you lose some, I guess.