Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho - Off to Work We Go!

We arrived in Custer, SD on Saturday, May 2, and spent a few days getting reacquainted with the beautiful Black Hills.
The George S. Mickelson Trail is a 100-mile biking and hiking rails-to-trails project that follows the historic Deadwood to Edgemont Burlington Northern Rail Line.  And it runs right by the campground and the entrance to Crazy Horse Memorial, so we can walk to work if we want to.
We went into the center of Custer, stopping at the Chamber of Commerce for our Mickelson Trail passes (well worth the $15/person annually) and taking some photos of the bison statues.  We checked out the local food markets, the ACE Hardware, and of course, the local eateries!

PoPo with Bronze Bison Outside Custer Chamber of Commerce
 Rapid City is about 30 miles away, so we went to do a major supply run at Wal-Mart, Petsmart, and every other "mart" in existence before starting work—don’t want to waste too many of our days off doing food shopping when we can hop on the motorcycles and tour these great lands!


We reported for Job Orientation today at Crazy Horse Memorial, and it was terrific!  We watched the film “Dynamite and Dreams”, an inspiring documentary about the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his dream, the devotion of his wife and children to continuing the project, and the magnitude of the work involved to create this entire complex.  It truly captured my heart and touched my soul.

Crazy Horse Memorial - Notice the Paint Outline for the Stallion!

Best of all, work campers got a tour to the TOP of the mountain, something usually reserved for major donors ($125 per person) and special occasions (the Volksmarch, held in June, allows folks to hike to the top).   

To give you an idea of size of this project:  ALL of Mt. Rushmore would fit inside just the head of the Crazy Horse Memorial!

Traveling to the top, this road runs up the back of the mountain.  Notice that this is a 3-dimensional, in-the-round carving.
Looking over the complex from the top of the mountain.

The Memorial has progressed considerably since my parents visited in 1999.  They had just completed the face at that time.  Now work is focused on the horse’s head and finishing Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm.  Still a tremendous amount of work to do—we won’t see it in our lifetimes.  But a great masterpiece is in the making, and you can’t rush perfection!  After all, it took about 120 years to complete St Peter’s Basilica and 182 years for Notre Dame to be completed!


We are looking forward to seeing the laser light show that projects on the mountain carving, illustrating cultural diversity and promoting harmony among all races.  This is something they did not have in 1999.


Most folks don’t realize that the mountain carving is just one piece of this humanitarian project.   Devoted to paying homage and respect to all North American Indian tribes with a focus on education, they have a huge collection of Native American artifacts in their Museum.  In 1979, they established the Crazy Horse Memorial Indian Scholarship Program, and in 2010 they opened the Indian University of North America!


One of the things we admire most about the Crazy Horse Memorial and its Foundation is that it does not accept government assistance.  It is a nonprofit organization that relies on entrance fees and individual donations to sustain its operation.  Rambling RV Rat thinks this is a wise business decision.  After all, Mt. Rushmore's Presidents were to have bodies carved, too.  Unfortunately, the Feds cut off funding, so all we have are their heads!


I think Korczak is smiling down on the Crazy Horse Memorial from heaven, pleased with the dedication to the continuance of his dream and his life’s work.  And I am so thrilled that as 2015 seasonal staff, we are a part of the dream, too!

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