Monday morning we slept a little longer as we had crossed a time zone the day before and gained an hour. My lovely family woke me up by singing a birthday song for me – a chorus of 3 children in 3 different locations in Denmark and 1 husband in South Dakota! The timing wasn’t quite right, but it was great talking to everyone at the same time. Brenda, our hostess, who works from home made us coffee, and then we drove up into the Black Hills, which are actually more mountains than hills.
The biggest attraction of the area is undoubtably the Mount Rushmore monument with the heads of four US presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln cut into the mountain side. Danes will know it from visits to Legoland where a copy made of Lego bricks can be found in the Wild West area of the park. Before we drove all the way up to the monument we stopped first at the Christmas Village (since it WAS my birthday and I love Christmas decorations! I didn’t buy very much though as most of it was too big for a Danish Christmas tree) and afterwards in the town of Keystone to see the exhibition on Gutzon Borglum, who carved the monument. Borglum was born in Iowa, the son of two Danish immigrants (his parents were Mormons and his father also married his wife’s sister!). Apart from Mt Rushmore he also made a great deal of other sculptures, among them many of Lincoln, who was his favourite president, and for whom he named his son, who worked with him on te monument and finished the final touches after Borglum’s death. In the exhibition there was a full size copy of Washington’s eye, so you could get an impression of how big the monument really is.
Then it was time to drive all the way up to the monument itself. In front of it there are several terraces to view it from – and take selfies from, of course. Before we got as far as that, we became hungry and went into the café to have lunch. The family at the next table became curious when they heard us speak Danish and just HAD to know if we were from Denmark, because they had been to Legoland! As a matter of fact, people around here are very interested in where we come from. Often the waitresses of shop assistants ask us about it – because their colleague has been to Germany or their grandfather came from some little town in Denmark or some similar story. Well, when we finished our chat about Legoland, we went out to see and photograph the president heads from as many angles as possible (I wonder if Trump will insist on having his face carved next to them if he get elected…).
Of course the way back to the car had to go through what a tour guide in London once told us was the inevitable gift shop and the birthday child got a souvenir to take home. On the way back through Keystone she also had a big ice cream – by now the temperature was 90 degrees fahrenheit, and then we drove back to the house to relax. Well, we ended up relaxing on the patio, because we had forgotten our key, and our hosts were both out. But luckily their wifi worked out there as well, so we could go online, and luckily there was a roof over their nice patio, because suddenly an angry thunderstorm blew over the area followed by a big shower.
When Brenda and Kelly came home, we went downtown to have birthday dinner at the Firehouse, a restaurant and brewery in the old fire station. Our hosts gave two birthday presents, a set of salt and pepper shakers from Brenda’s shop (because we had talked about the huge collection we saw the other day) and a beautiful set of silver earrings from the Black Hills Gold company. Brenda and Kelly are the most fantastic hosts which we had such a good time with. Kelly drove home along the Skyline Drive which winded its way up a small mountain with amazing views over Rapid City by night.