So we drove nearly six hundred miles, crossing hours of featureless South Dakota prairie (despite the presence of the Corn Palace, it is God’s pool table, topographically-speaking) to visit the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore. And man was it worth it.
The sensory deprivation behind the wheel? Not so much. But the otherworldly Badlands and then, the majesty of the Black HIlls and Mount Rushmore were simply breathtaking. We saw deer and antelope play, passed a bobcat and drove through a herd of bison, but none of it compared to the first glimpse across a mountain valley of the presidential heads carved into Mt. Rushmore.
Who decides to do that? Who wakes up and thinks “let’s carve a mountain”? How do they simply jump in without practicing on lesser hills first? Again and again, as you read the inscriptions and explanatory signage, you read how this pre WWII era was a time of great national confidence, almost cockiness.
Political-correctness be damned; I miss that. As legendary Chicago architect and visionary Daniel Burnham put it so perfectly, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood… Make big plans…aim high in hope and work.”
It’s sad to see our national vision has shrunk to the level of an ROI on a banner ad.