Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and the end of the road trip.

I made the decision that despite having let myself fall behind on the blog, I was not going to start another big trip without finishing the story of the previous one. So here I am, writing this in a hurry at the Montreal Airport lounge, thinking I will proofread it in the plane and post it tomorrow morning in Brussels. Hopefully that works!

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While driving in the vast emptiness of South Dakota, I was oddly reminded of Namibia. In some way, the scenery was the same, with red or beige replaced by green.

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An impressive site for sure, but I have to admit I have always found this pharaonic monument a little out of place in the United States.

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When the main sculptor died, the work stopped, but this is what the monument was intended to look like; full busts rather than just heads.

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With people, to give an idea of the size.

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Close to Mount Rushmore an even more grandiose project is under construction: the Crazy Horse Memorial. At the request of a Lakota elder, Korczak Ziolkowski, a Polish American sculptor, started working on the monument in 1948. He died decades later, having barely started it, and now 7 of his 10 children work on the epic project. For ideological reasons, they have always rejected public funds and rely only on entrance fees. The white model shows what the whole thing will look like once completed.

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The project as it stands now.

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It is difficult to realize the scale of this crazy project. The entire Mount Rushmore monument is smaller than this face. On the horse’s head, the nostril will be 21 feet in diameter!

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They don’t build factories like that anymore. The main plant at Anheuser-Busch’s headquarters, in St-Louis, Missouri.

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It may be pretty, but it’s not a museum.

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If memory serves, this one plant cranks out the equivalent of 12 million barrels of Budweiser every year.

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The beautiful Statue Park, downtown St-Louis.

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It’s hard to miss the Gateway Arch, a gigantic stainless steel clad arch dwarfing the State Legislature in this shot.

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I hadn’t given the arch much thought, but as I walked towards it out of curiosity, it became increasingly clear I should have planned to visit this with a purpose. The thing is an incredible marvel of construction, especially considering it was completed in 1963. Try to see the people at the base. The arch is massive, at nearly 200 m high. You can actually go through it and the little black squares at the top are windows!

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And shortly after, I was back in Nashville, completing my 5 week road trip through the Mid-South and Mid-West USA. All and all, a good experience, but I must say a road trip in the US on your own, in these kinds of areas, can get a little boring. You don’t meet tons of other travellers like you would in more touristic circuits.

A couple of weeks after returning, I spent a week-end with my girlfriend in Stowe, Vermont. What a culture shock. Sometimes I can’t believe all these 50 States are actually part of the same country.

Well, that trip is done, and I am posting this while waiting in Belgium for a flight to Nairobi! More to follow…

#USA

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