Yo, I'm back! I'm so thrilled to blog about THE highlight of the month of September here at Augustana: an unforgettable 3 day trip to South Dakota's most famous landmarks - the sheer marvel of the carved faces of America's greatest Presidents at Mount Rushmore, an exotic journey down American Indian history at Crazy Horse Mountain, the creepy rock formations of the Badlands and a last stopover at good old "WallDrug".
We departed for a 4 hour bus ride from Augustana to a motel near Rapid City. It brought a first glimpse of what was expected during the rest of the tour: lush green pine forests, amazingly clear rivers and everything of Mother Nature at its best. The tavern-style lodging brought a real "Western" atmosphere...not to mention the bellowing cowboy-cum-seargant owner! We had a campfire at the edge of the river, entertained by Jukka's guitar strumming, Rajab's singing and a unique dose of nature's soothing voice.
First stop: the popular landmark of Mount Rushmore. It has became almost like a symbol of the state of South Dakota - coins, Tshirts, souveniers...you name it! On the mountains, the faces of four exalted American Presidents - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln basked proudly under the sun. The great US general of the American Revolution, author of the Declaration of Independence, the cowboy-boxing 26th President and the famous abolisher of slavery...all honoured in such a stunning yet befitting way.
Inside the museum, there were displays on the tools used to carve the figures, achievements of the US Presidents and video screenings. On the bottom right lies Gutzon Borglum, the key person in charge of this project.
Crazy Horse Mountain characterized the zeal and proud culture of the American Indians. There were so many paraphernalia on display and it was a great time immersing into the story behind the natives. We often disregard this indigenous tribe from the textbooks, but it is essential to recognize that they once roamed the lands of this vast continent.
Crazy Horse Mountain! As in, "Gunung Kuda Mengamuk"?
"In 1948, Korczak Ziolkowski began carving a monument he thought reflected the glory and tragedy of Native Americans. But what he began five decades ago became a family affair, with three generations of one family helping to build what will be thelargest mountain sculpture in the entire world when it is finished." ~ ABC News
It represents Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. Up until now, only the face and 30% of the entire massive structure is completed. Perhaps I'll return one day when I'm old, grey and grouchy to witness the final completion! Hats off too for a family to have dedicated their entire lives and generations to complete this epic task.
Yup, I was right up there! Minus the thick mist.
Of course, things got more memorable when Minhazz, Baitullah and Hafsah got lost along the way. As to what dramas unfolded along those terrifying moments, it is a best kept secret...and a best bellow of laughter too!
The last major destination was the (in)famous Badlands. Ohmaigod, when you see the contrast of colours of the rocky formations....it's as if God came down and made 3 layer Sarawak Milk Tea painted the Earth himself.
"People are drawn to the rugged beauty of the Badlands. These geologic deposits contain one of the world's richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park's 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, deer, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today." ~ National Park Service. gov
A short stop at WallDrug on our way home. It was a souvenier heaven and got a tourist like me mad in excitement - from cowboy lashes, bison heads, arrows, leather boots and drugs (duh, why would you could it Wall-DRUG then?). I'm bringing an authentic cowboy hat back home to Malaysia!
Those 3 days was the best way I could ever spent my money on. The unique places, people and animals we so luckily met will be the highlights of my stay here at the US. Now, I can officially say I've BEEN to South Dakota!
From the land of vast landscapes, jackelops (Google this animal!) and the so-called "New World", The United States of America.
By: Lim Wei Jiet (UGRAD 2011-2012)