Friday, June 8, 2018

The Johneys are on the road again, hurrah, hurrah!

This time we are on an 8,000 mile round trip to Los Angeles and back. We are attending a wedding in Los Angeles on our wedding anniversary and decided to drive seeing as many National Parks and National Monuments as possible.
After driving 1900 miles we are now in Wyoming after visiting Gary's cousin, Diane and her husband Chuck in Illinois. We had a very nice time with them attending a choral performance in Galesburg. The concert celebrated the songs of the 80s and was sung mostly by seniors, not seniors in high school but senior citizens. The concert was great and it was a delight to end the concert with a selection of songs by the group Queen.
Prior to arriving in Wyoming we visited several tourist attractions. The first one was the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. The outside exterior of the Mitchell Corn Palace is decorated with thousands of colorful corn cobs, grains and grasses. All of this is held together by tons of wires, staples and nails. Each fall, the creative murals of grain are replaced to reflect a different theme or event going on in the community. Several vibrant colors from varieties of native American-corn have been bred to make the murals more artistic
 This is the front of the Corn Palace facing Main Street.
The side of the Corn Palace showing the different weather murals.

The Corn Palace decides on a theme each year and the murals are changed. This years theme is "weather".
Sour dock, maize and other grasses are used for the murals. The sour dock is a weed that grows in the farmers' fields and they are very glad to get rid of it.
 The above photo shows the employees checking the sour dock prior to binding it together into small bundles. When added to the murals the dark brown areas will become green until they dry and turn brown.

The above photo shows a closeup of one of the murals and the one I thought was the best depiction of weather.

If you enlarge the above photos you will be able to see information about the colour of the corn and how it is attached to the building.
The inside of the Corn Palace is just as spectacular with murals on 3 of the 4 walls.

The inside of the Corn Palace is used for concerts as well as a souvenir shop. One area of the shop was selling Christmas ornaments made out of corn cobs.

Well, so ends an a"maize"ing day. Boy, what a corny joke.

After a visit to the Corn Palace we drove to our next hotel and witnessed the formation of a severe thunderstorm.
Luckily for us it passed us by and dumped its rain and lightening on Mount Rushmore (which we are to visit tomorrow).
After the Corn Palace we visited the Badlands of South Dakota. On the way we stopped at a rest stop featuring an exhibition about Lewis and Clark. The Lewis and Clark Expedition from May 1804 to September 1806, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States. It began near St. Louis, made its way westward, and passed through the continental divide to reach the Pacific coast. The Corps of Discovery comprised a selected group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend, Second Lieutenant William Clark.
President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the expedition shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to explore and to map the newly acquired territory, to find a practical route across the western half of the continent, and to establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.
The campaign's secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area's plants, animal life, and geography, and to establish trade with local Native American tribes. With maps, sketches, and journals in hand, the expedition returned to St. Louis to report its findings to Jefferson.
To the side of the door leaving the exhibition area there was a beautiful mural depicting scenes from the surrounding area. It was made out of some sort of metal.

On the grounds of the exhibition was a huge statue of an Indian maiden. The statue was called Dignity of Earth and Sky and was quite impressive.

The Badlands were a wonderful arrangement of different rock structures and colours.

There was nothing bad about these lands!
Our next stop was a night stop at one of my favourite places in the U.S. and that is Mt. Rushmore. What a wonderful achievement to carve 4 famous president's faces on the side of a mountain.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a batholith in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, United States. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture's design and oversaw the project's execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln Borglum. Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.

The National Park had a lovely lighting ceremony prior to the lighting of the monuments. A park ranger came out and spoke about the 4 presidents prior to the lighting and after the lighting she made a request that all veterans past and present should come down to the stage for an acknowledgement of their service to their country. I found it to be quite a moving ceremony.
Next morning, we went back to see the presidents in daylight. We were surprised at how commercialized the area had become since our visit 30 years ago.

What was disappointing was that 30 years ago a movie was played about the carving of the monument. It told you about Borglum and the people that helped carve the presidents and how they did it. There was a movie but it did not go into the detail of the first movie.
Well, I think that is enough for my first blog of the trip.

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