Tag Archives: Mount Rushmore

A Sad Day in Bedrock

7 Sep

It is interesting to hear people talk about how they love the beach. They talk about how it relaxes them and provides them with an escape from real life. As I listen, I find myself understanding because I feel the same way about the American West. The mountains. The desserts. The prairies. I love it all.

I love riding the back roads of Kansas and seeing the grain silos in the distance.

I love walking through the dunes of White Sands.

I love exploring old frontier forts.

The list could go on forever and include a variety of places. However, they all have one thing in common. They relax me and provide me with an escape from real life.

I have been thinking about this because one of my favorite places is in danger of going away. It is not a forest or a majestic mountain. It is not an endangered animal being protected in Yellowstone National Park. Instead, it is a cheesy tourist attraction that could be found in any part of the United States.Bedrock

A few days ago, the Associated Press reported that the Flintstones Bedrock City Theme Park and Camping Resort, which has operated in Custer, South Dakota since 1972, is closing. Apparently, the property has been sold to another party, but the future of the park is in doubt.

I cannot remember how old I was when I first saw the park. It was on a trip with my family and could not have been long after it opened. We were in the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore and came upon Bedrock. The houses. The cars. Everything look just like the drawings in the cartoon.

Years later, I returned to Bedrock as an adult. I had already been to Mount Rushmore and the unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial and was on the way to Deadwood, South Dakota, the notorious mining camp where Wild Bill Hickok met his demise. However, there was one other stop to make.

No one else was in the park. I walked through the grounds and passed buildings that were meant to contain concession stands and magic shows. As I made my way through, I wondered if I arrived ahead of the summer crowds, but I felt that the park was on its last legs. A sadness came over me as I sat in a car that was supposed to be powered by feet. It was a place that I wanted to be open forever, but I doubted that would happen. Now, I read that this may be its last day.

I hope that it is a good day with a lot of kids. I hope the concession stands are open and the magic shows are, well, magical. As the theme song says, I hope everyone is having “a gay old time.”

Listeria – Inspiration Point

24 May

In the last post, I wrote about the list by True West of historic sites “that will make you weep.” That article contains a couple of secondary lists. One of those is “10 Western History Shrines That Will Inspire You.” Following are the ones that I have visited.

1. The Arch, St. Louis, Missouri – It is impressive to see. Driving into St. Louis, anyone can see that it dominates the skyline. However, I never saw it as inspiring. That could be because I have never been in it. I have been at its base and in the underground museum about westward expansion. However, my dislike of heights has kept me from going to the top. By the way, its real name is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

2. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas – In the last post, I wrote about my disappointment with the Alamo. Any place where people gave their lives is a place of inspiration. However, I cannot get over my initial feelings about the site.

3. Custer National Cemetery, Little Big Horn National Historic Battlefield – Before you get to the welcome center or the battlefield, you pass the cemetery. Like other military cemeteries, this one makes you think about all of those who gave their lives for their country. Our nation has not always gone into a fight for a just reason, but that does not lessen the sacrifices of those who served.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 123

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – The last time I was in the park was with my dad, my brother and my nephews. We did not go into the heart of the park but walked around the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Yellowstone River. The natural wonders are amazing, and the power of the earth is inspiring. Everyone should see Old Faithful at least once.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 275

5. The Palace of the Governor’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico – I could have been there this week but had other things to do. It is the oldest government building in the United States. Today, it is a museum, but it has witness great events in history. It has been under Spanish rule and American rule. Heck, it has also been under Confederate rule. Governor Lew Wallace finished his novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, within its walls.SONY DSC

6. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California – My wife and I drove across the bridge on our honeymoon. It is a cool feeling to drive across one of the most famous bridges in the world. However, I did not expect all of the people walking and cycling across it. Just thinking about the power of the currents underneath is enough to inspire.image-25

8. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota – This is truly an amazing site. Looking up at George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln is an inspiring view. However, I cannot help but think that the Black Hills were taken from the Native Americans to get at its gold.

9. Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer, South Dakota – This one is also in the Black Hills and is the Native American answer to Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse was a famous warrior, but I wonder what he would think about a mountain being carved into his likeness. There are no known photographs of Crazy Horse, so we have no idea if this looks like him. On top of that, they have been carving the mountain for decades, and it is nowhere near finished. When I see it, I cannot help but think that the Native Americans are getting shafted again.

There is another list called “10 Western Sites That Will Make You Misty.” Next time, I think I will skip that one and move on to another subject. I do not find it very interesting or misty.

There Is Not Much Quite Like

27 Feb

While walking on the treadmill, I started thinking about how lucky I have been. That luck has come in numerous ways, but I was specifically thinking about travel. My mind went to some of the great places I have visited and the great sights I have seen.

There is not much quite like…

drinking wine in the chateau of Inglenook Vineyards.Honeymoon 016

catching the sun set over the buttes of Monument Valley.West 2010 232

hearing the water break on the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

leaving an offering at the grave of Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota.

watching the Potomac River flow behind George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.

feeling the power of water rushing over Niagara Falls.

zip-lining through the trees of north Georgia.

climbing the mesa at Ghost Ranch and looking the landscape often painted by Georgia O’Keefe.SONY DSC

sitting on the porch of the Old Faithful Lodge and watching buffalo roam through the geysers.

lying in the grass of Jackson Square and eating a beignet from Cafe Du Monde.

floating down the Rhine River and looking at the castle ruins passing by.

staring at the presidential faces of Mount Rushmore.

playing Blackjack at a Las Vegas table and watching the chips come and go.

touring Graceland and seeing The Outlaw Josey Wales playing in the TV Room.

hanging out on a beach in Cancun and watching my stepdaughter play volleyball.Cancun - Volleyball

strolling through the Vatican and trying to get a glimpse of the pope.

reading a book by a pool in Costa Rica.

climbing a waterfall in Jamaica.

being mesmerized by the killer whales and bald eagles in Glacier Bay.

dancing to “Me and Mrs. Jones” in a nightclub in Chicago.

standing in silence at the bombing memorial in Oklahoma City.SONY DSC

trying to see the tops of the Giant Sequoia in California.

driving through Hereford, Texas and passing thousands of head of cattle.

betting on Jai Alai in Florida.

lounging on the couch and watching television with my wife.

Listeria – Western Locales

12 Aug

The latest edition of American Cowboy lists twelve destinations in the American West that every cowboy must visit. Well, I’m not a cowboy. I don’t wear a cowboy hat, boots or Wrangler jeans. I don’t ride horses. At one time, my dad owned the top ranked herd of Angus in Tennessee, but I only went to the production sales to eat and watch the spectacle. Despite all of those non-cowboy things, I love the American West, and, of the twelve locations in the magazine, these are my favorites.

Grand Canyon National Park – I believe this is something that every American should see at least once in their lifetime.West 2010 313

The magazine says that people should visit Prescott, Arizona while they are in the area. I couldn’t agree more. Prescott has one of the coolest town squares I have ever seen. Wait, I guess I should call it a plaza.

Monument Valley – By far, my favorite place in the American West. It may be my favorite place in the world. It is the land of the Navajo. It is the land of John Ford. It is also the banner at the top of this blog.West 2010 258

The magazine suggests that people should also go to Canyon de Chelly. It is also in the Navajo Nation and is a place that should not be passed up. Although, be sure to go into the canyon with a Navajo guide.West 2010 213

Black Hills – This is the Holy Land of the Sioux, and the United States took it for the gold in the ground. Now, there is Mount Rushmore and a mountain being carved to represent Crazy Horse. The rest of the hills are covered with old mining towns, the most famous of which is Deadwood. No one should leave Deadwood without walking through Mt. Moriah Cemetery and leaving an offering at the grave of Wild Bill Hickok.

Yellowstone National Park – It is filled with natural wonders – geysers, hot springs, buffalo and more things than can be mentioned. This is another place that every American should see at least once, and they should enter from the original entrance to the north. If you are going to do it, then do it like they did in the old days.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 275

Those are a few of the places to see in the West. There are only hundreds of more that could be listed.

Listeria – Wonders of the World

25 Jul

Before this post officially begins, there is something that needs to be cleared up. I started the “Listeria” series a long time ago as a way to explore our fascination with lists. Since that original post, I have covered the best places in New Mexico; the greatest guitarists of all time; some of the best places to travel; the greatest cowboy stars; the fastest gunfighters; Nashville’s best restaurants; and the best movies of all time. At no point during that time did I know that Listeria is a serious disease. I think I first heard about it on CNN.

Now, I am stuck. Do I change the name because it brings to mind something terrible? Or, do I keep the name that has become a well-known brand? You know, Coca-Cola didn’t change their name because they took cocaine out of their product. It seems to have worked for them, so I’ll stick with it.

This edition of “Listeria” comes to us from the people at LIFE, which only puts out these special publications because their magazine didn’t make it. This one is called Wonders of the World: 50 Must-See Natural and Man-Made Marvels. However, there is a problem, only 41 of them can be seen because the other 9 either don’t exist anymore, are in space or are in the unreachable depths of the ocean.

Out of the 41 that are obtainable by ordinary humans, I have visited the following.

The Colosseum – It was cool because it was just like a modern stadium. Entrance gates. Concourse. Seats. There was even a roof over part of the audience. They had club level, too. It was truly a technological marvel. However, I remember two things about it more than anything else. It was surrounded by traffic. Now that I think about it, that’s just like a modern stadium, too. It also had a bunch of cats living in it.

The Vatican – Obviously, it’s in the same city as the Colosseum and is a testament to the power of religion. The art was amazing, and, to me, the Sistine Chapel stood out. However, I mostly remember a statue that everyone rubbed for good luck. I don’t know who the statue portrayed, but I know that the feet had nearly disappeared. That’s a lot of rubbing.

The Empire State Building – I have seen this building, but I don’t remember much about it. I was in high school when my parents decided to take a road trip through the northeast, and my dad decided it would be a good idea to drive through New York City. As navigator, I was busy looking at the map and trying to get us out of the quagmire. We succeeded but only by going through Harlem and the Bronx, and that really wasn’t the plan.

The Golden Gate Bridge – We just drove over it on our honeymoon. You can read about that here.

Mount Rushmore – Now, we are talking. This is one of my favorite places and is a monument to some of the men who built America. Unfortunately, these men helped build America on land that was owned by Native Americans. There is something ironic about this being carved in the Black Hills, land that is sacred to the Sioux and land that they have refused to take payment for.

The Grand Canyon – One of nature’s most awesome accomplishments, the canyon is almost too big to comprehend from the rim. It needs to be hiked or flown into to understand how grand it is. My nephew was lucky enough to camp inside of the Grand Canyon, and it’s something he will always remember. Most don’t know that a Native American community lives on its floor.West 2010 309

Yellowstone – I have been to Yellowstone numerous times, and there are almost too many things to see. Natural wonders are everywhere. Last year, the guys in my family took a trip to Montana and dipped into the northern edge of the park. We didn’t see geysers on this trip, but we did see buffalo.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 302

I’ve been lucky to make it to those, and, hopefully, I’ll make it to a few more, some day.

Thank God for Gas Pumps

24 Sep

All of us bloggers like to look at our stats. At least, I assume all of us bloggers like to look at our stats. I know that I do, anyway. It’s not like I look at them all of the time. Wait, I do look at them often, but that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to point out an anomalous point in the stats. I have pointed it out before but feel the need to point it out again.

One of my earlier posts, The Problem With Gas Pumps, completely dominates this blog. In fact, it makes up 17% of the total page views in the SBI universe and outnumbers the next 30 posts combined. Undoubtedly, some of its popularity is due to the excellent writing exemplified by the post. However, I believe most of the popularity comes from the fact that it includes this picture:

This picture drives more page views than a topless picture of a princess.

Don’t believe that gas pumps dominate? Here are the top 15 search terms for Surrounded by Imbeciles.

1. gas pumps

2. gas pump

3. gasoline pump

4. pictures of gas pumps

5. josey wales

6. gasoline pumps

7. dumas brothel

8. mount rushmore conspiracy theories

9. outlaw josey wales

10. pump gas

11. picture of gas pumps

12. the outlaw josey wales

13. images of gas pumps

14. gas pump image

15. picture of a gas pump

The only things that bust the monopoly are people looking for old prostitutes; people looking for hidden meanings in stone-faced presidents; and, people who are fans of Clint Eastwood’s best movie.

Bloggin’ ain’t much of a livin’ boy.

In honor of The Problem With Gas Pumps and to gratuitously promote other posts, I present the ten posts that are eating the most dust.

Victorian Brothelese – There are the whores that people are looking for.

Greetings and Salutations – You can always count on the About page.

Dirty Deeds and Thunder Chief – My ode to lyrics that people mess up.

Movie Wisdom – Burt Reynolds Edition – Watch some Burt Reynolds movies. It will make you smarter.

A Requiem for Josey Wales – “To Hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms.”

The Good, the Bad, and the Presidential – There is more bad than good in this post.

It’s a Conspiracy – If you think things aren’t as they seem, then read this post.

John Wayne and Edgar Allan Poe – What? You didn’t know poetry could be learned from a John Wayne movie?

Memories of a Day in September – My thoughts on the anniversary of 9/11.

A Totally Not Funny Account of My Trip to New Orleans – It’ll make you cry.

It’s a Conspiracy

4 Mar

This semester, one of my fellow history teachers is offering a cool class on conspiracies in American history. I wish I could sit in on the course because he covers conspiracies from different eras and explains why people have been attracted to the theories during those times. It is interesting to hear his students talk about the subjects they cover in class and the assignments that he gives them. I can tell that they are having a lot of fun and learning along the way.

A few days ago, a couple of students were in my office talking and explained that each of them have been given a specific conspiracy to research and write about. As one talked about their assignment, I said that I had been there. Then, the other one talked about their assignment, and I have been there as well. Finally, one of them said that I must be the one behind all of the secrets because my travels have made me a common denominator. We laughed, but I began to think, “Damn, I have been to a lot of these places.”

With that in mind, here is a list of the places I have been lucky enough to visit that are connected to some vast conspiracy.

Cape Canaveral – One of the coolest tours anywhere, you can get a upclose view of the launch pads used from the 50s to the present. It is amazing to take a journey through the technological changes. What makes this prime conspiracy territory? Ask any moon landing skeptic, and they will tell you that these launches didn’t go anywhere. The astronauts were walking around somewhere in the desert.

Mount Rushmore – Actually, I didn’t know a conspiracy surrounded this monument until I watched an episode of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. I thought the only conspiracy involving this place was by the people who made that stupid National Treasure: Book of Secrets movie. However, Meltzer’s minions looked into the possibility of the mount paying homage to racial purity. I don’t know about that, but I know that the Black Hills were the sacred land of the Sioux. The fact that it is now a tourist trap is conspiracy enough.

Roswell – In 1947, a UFO crashed near this New Mexico town, and the government has been covering up the incident ever since. It must be true because there is a museum dedicated to it with a lot of cool exhibits.

What? You didn’t know Bigfoot is an alien?

Then, you probably didn’t know that they have real recreations of alien autopsies.

Actually, the museum is interesting and has an extensive collection of UFO videos, research and writings.

Memphis – I wrote in a recent post about my visit to the National Civil Rights Museum, built on the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.

This conspiracy springs from the idea that a petty criminal like James Earl Ray could not have shot King and escaped to Europe without help. Ray fed this idea with his insistence that he was working with a man named Raoul. I have also wondered how Ray got away but had my questions answered after reading Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin.

Dallas – The granddaddy of all conspiracy theories is based around the assassination of John F. Kennedy at Dealy Plaza. Most people probably believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. Some say it was the mafia. Others say it was the Cubans, the Russians, or even the vice president. I don’t know about any of that, but I believe this conspiracy lingers for a couple of reasons.

First, a president, Abraham Lincoln, was actually the victim of a conspiracy.

Second, a visit to Dealy Plaza leads people to believe that something else must have happened. Walking around the grounds, it just makes sense that the gunman was on the grassy knoll and not in a window on an upper floor of a building. It is difficult to describe the area, but everyone should take a look for themselves. I must admit that of all the conspiracies this is the one I come closest to believing.

There you have it. The list of conspiratorial places that I have visited. I promise that this doesn’t make me the Cigarette-Smoking Man from The X-Files. Where’s my proof? If I was, then the following would happen.

Derek Dooley would resign as the head football coach at Tennessee, and the team would never lose another game.

I would win the lottery.

People would be breaking the law when they throw chewing gum on the ground.

I would win every hand of Blackjack.

All of us bloggers would be world-famous.