Fun Rushmore Facts, Road Trip Nostalgia and Girlfriend Trips

3 07 2009

Yesterday I received an email titled “Rushmore facts for my fellow visitors” from my friend Kristi. She sent it to me and to Christine, the third part of our road-trip-trio that spent a month one college summer crossing the country in my silver Saturn, the original Squirrel (named, incidentally, on that trip, by Kristi). The email contained a link to an SF Gate article, Mining Mt. Rushmore for trivia, which gave some fun facts about the notable but bizarre South Dakota landmark.

The article itself was fun, but what was more fun was the memory of seeing the mountain in person. Though Rushmore itself pales in comparison to the idea most Americans hold of it (it’s far smaller than one expects), there is something thrilling about the idea of actually having been there. It is, after all, in South Dakota—which means that, while iconic America, it’s not nearly as widely seen as, say, Lincoln Memorial or the Statue of Liberty. It seems as though Rushmore is one of those landmarks only visited when one lives close by or, like us, is simply passing through.

Which makes the fact that we’ve seen it even more exciting. One fact in the article was particularly gratifying: “The sculptor…Borglum…had devoted years to a Confederate commemorative carving at Stone Mountain.” Okay, so the fact that said mountain was financed in part by the Ku Klux Klan is somewhat upsetting, but the fact that we saw both huge carvings, Rushmore in South Dakota and Stone Mountain in Georgia—more than 1,000 miles away—in the same trip is pretty gratifying.

The most gratifying of all, however, were the memories that this very short article brought rushing back:  the shoddy campgrounds, the long detours, the rush through strange dark places like Leprechaun, TX (which, it should be noted, does not show up in Google searches, but I am certain we drove through it) and the whole state of Arkansas… And all the laughs and ridiculousness that stemmed from it. These days I don’t get to see those ladies as often as I’d like, and I remember that trip far less than I should, but no matter how far apart we live, or how many girlfriend trips I do, I’ll always cherish Road Trip 2000 as my first foray into girlfriend travel, and extensive travel in general.

It was that trip that instilled in me a love of travel, and showed me what it might mean to (literally) hit the road with your buddies. Not only is it a growing experience in general, but it changes the nature of friendship. We’d known each other some three years by then, but the things we learned and the conversations we had during those long hours in the Squirrel could not have been had anywhere else. And to this day I can’t imagine sharing that experience (or that tiny car) with anyone else either.

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2 responses

4 07 2009
Kev

Road trips are landmarks in one’s life, aren’t they? Plane travel just doesn’t have the same cache. Even a seemingly mundane road trip to the most mundane place is always memorable, somehow.

I’m guessing Mount Rushmore is anything but mundane, though – probably one of those things I’ll have to see to appreciate fully. Hope to take a road trip there someday. Thanks for sharing.

5 07 2009
Suzanne Russo

Hey Kev,

Thanks for the comment. I like your site! No Mt. Rushmore is certainly not mundane, just much smaller than we were expecting 🙂

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