Mount Rushmore attracts tons of visitors who ooh and ahh at four towering American heros carved out of a countain. But did you know the project was never completed?
Here’s a photo we took on our trip across country this summer . . .
Impressive, of course! But after we viewed the movie about the monument that went on and on about what a great tribute it is to American ingenuity and tenacity we saw what the original model looked like . . .
What happened? Looks like a job half done! We asked the park ranger why the sculpture was never finished. Worked stopped on the project in 1941 after 14 years because other priorities came up and funding dried up. Neither the taxpayers nor private parties ever came up with funds to complete it. So it was just pronounced completed. The cost: $989,992.32.
Did you know there is a cave behind the carving called the “Hall of Records.” It was intended to house the story of Mount Rushmore but was never completed due to lack of funding as well.
So much for American ingenuity and tenacity. We visited the Crazy Horse Monument down the road before we went to Rushmore, and found it much more interesting. That huge undertaking has taken a lot longer to get going, but at least they are still blasting away.
The Crazy Horse Monument: Right Down the Road From Mt. Rushmore
In a cross-country family drive, you can’t miss Mount Rushmore. But did you know 17 miles down the road is another must-see sculpture carved out of a mountain? We stopped by to see the Crazy Horse Memorial, and found it more impressive than Rushmore. Started in 1948, the Crazy Horse sculpture is still in progress and when completed, it will be the world’s largest sculpture. I’m a little torn about carving up a sacred mountain, but I gotta admit the site–which includes a museum and lots of history about the sculpture–is fascinating.
The sculpture’s final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet (195 m) wide and 563 feet (172 m) high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet (27 m) high; by comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mt. Rushmore each 60 feet (18 m) high.
What we found to be most impressive was not just the size of the undertaking, but the fact that is has all been done with sheer tenacity in both the carving (by blasting) and in fundraising. Unlike Mt. Rushmore, which received tax dollars, this project receives no federal or state support.
The project began when Polish American sculptor Korczak Ziółkowski, who had worked on Mount Rushmore received a letter from Chief Henry Standing Bear, which stated in part “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.” The project became a lifelong work for Ziółkowski, who died in 1982. In fact, his whole family, including his wife, Ruth, and their ten children worked on the Crazy Horse Project.
The site includes models the artist made so you can see what it will look like. It also includes a film about the project and a museum with lots of history so you can see how a mountain can be blasted with enough precision to make a sculpture. The museum also focuses on the sculptor and his family and includes a Native American Cultural Center with lots of artifacts and art.
If you are planning to see Mt. Rushmore, schedule half a day to also visit the Crazy Horse Memorial. Well worth the cost of admission. Bring camera. If you want more info, visit the Crazy Horse Memorial’s site.
Learning How to Surf at a Surf School Near San Diego
I always hated the sand dripping from my brother’s wet suit in the shower growing up in Huntington Beach. He never cleaned out the tub. I adored the smell of the surf wax on his board though. I spent about a decade living at the beach, but I never tried surfing. I regret it now, not only because I missed out on the thrill of catching a wave, but because now I cannot teach my kids how to surf.
When my daughter wanted to try surfing during a camping trip to San Elijo a few years back, a friend took her out on his 10-foot surfboard, and she loved it. The next year we gave her a certificate for a surf lesson for a Christmas gift. When summer came we went back to San Elijo, which is in northern San Diego County, and she got her lesson at the Billabong Eli Howard Surf School located right in the campground. This summer she went back to the same surf school and her younger brother took a lesson there, too. See my review of this surf school below.
If you’ve never surfed, but you want to help your kids want to try it, here’s some tips.
Follow basic safety precautions:
Make sure they are strong swimmers.
Make sure they have experience swimming in an ocean, not just a pool.
Make sure they know what a rip tide is, and how to swim perpendicular to the shore to get out of one.
The next step is to pick your beach and your instructor:
Pick a beach with one- two-foot waves that come in slow sets and a beach that does not have dangerous rocks. The season and time of day make a difference.
Pick an instructor who is patient and enjoys kids. A friend who surfs may work fine (and do it for free). But you might want to try a surf school for the very first time. These instructors have been trained in water safety. They also have experience in explaining a sport that is a bit hard to explain. Most important, they know how to help “launch” a beginning surfer. You will not have to buy or borrow a surfboard if you use a school as they usually have long foam boards. These board are easy to learn on and softer if they hit you in the water. Surf schools usually offer wetsuits during the lesson as well.
To find a surfing school, just Google the words “surf school” or “surf camp.”
The school at San Elijo was professional. It offers private lessons, semi-private, or group. They also have surf camps for summer.
A great feature of this surf school is location. You can take camping gear and make a trip out of it. Surfing lessons are not inexpensive, but if you camp instead of staying at a fancy hotel, you can save in lodging.
The waves at his beach are perfect for beginners. The water is pretty warm . . . in late summer you do not even need a wetsuit. The vibe is good for families. And there are great restaurants nearby if you want to camp and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean, but do not want to do your own cooking.
If you are looking for a great gift idea for Christmas, a birthday, a graduation or another special occasion, a surf lesson may be a great idea.