Aug. 29 - 31; Jewel & Wind Caves, Mt. Rushmore

Trip Start Jun 02, 2011
Trip End Sep 25, 2011

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Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 1 - Jewel Cave

(by Emma)

Today we are in South Dakota at Jewel Cave.  Jewel Cave is famous because it is the second largest cave network in the world.  We got tickets to go on 2 Ranger tours.  The first was a hike where we had to hold our own lantern.  On this tour we had to walk to the cave entrance.  The cave was 49 degrees, and a total of 12 people were on the hike.  We had to duck and go down a lot of stairs.  We saw lots of jewels on the side of the cave, especially in the 'Jewel Room'.  The jewels (calcite crystal) were white, and were coming out of the rock.

One of my favorite parts of this tour was holding the lantern because it made me feel good, and responsible.  I also liked coming up and down the stairs, and squeezing through the little holes.  I learned that the explorers who first found the cave found it because they felt cold air rushing out of a little hole in the ground.  They took dynamite and blew up the front of the cave.  They explored the cave with 2 candles.  It was very dark, so if I was them I would not go into the cave with only 2 candles.  When we got out of the cave we walked to the RV and drove back to the Visitors Center.

On the second tour, the hike was more easy because you did not have to duck as much and you didn't have to squeeze through small holes.  We saw lots of crystals called dog-tooth and nail-head.  I liked dog-tooth because it looked like a dogs tooth and it was sharp.  We also saw lots of round rocks with crystals inside them.

The first explorers of this part of the cave did almost the same thing as the other explorers.  One day 2 people were riding their horses, and they saw a little hole with cold air.  So, they went back to their house to get caving supplies and dynamite to blast open the hole.  They found some crystals and they tried to sell it, but they realized that it wasn't worth much money because they were formed from calcite that is found in the water.  We saw something cool called 'cave bacon'. It got this name because it is formed in a long strip that is red, white, and orange.  It hands on the walls of the cave and looks like bacon. 

When we exited the cave we drove to our campsite and fed some bunnies some bread.  Then we ate dinner and watched a movie called 'Hoot' about owls that live in the ground.  We then went to bed at 10:30pm.

Day 2 - Mount Rushmore & Crazy Horse, SD

(by Katelyn)

Today we went to two special memorials in the South Dakota Black Hills.  Can you guess?  They are Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore.  The first memorial that we went to was Crazy Horse.  What I think is so cool is that Crazy Horse is a monument that this one guy was working on for 60 years until he died, and all that has been completed is the face.  One thing that I like about Crazy Horse is that it comes with a story.  The story is that once upon a time, there was an Indian Chief named Crazy Horse.  One day Crazy Horse went into battle with only 5 people by his side.  In that battle, he got stabbed in the back and died.  The famous words that he said were "My lands are where the dead lie buried."  The thing that I did not like about Crazy Horse is that he has a huge, lopsided nose that does not fit his face.  Another thing that I think is cool is that I will be able to look back at the pictures of the unfinished sculpture and compare it in the future to the finished one. 

After I left Crazy Horse I went to Mt. Rushmore.  When I looked at it I said, "That is so tiny."  It was true compared to Crazy Horse because the four heads on Mt. Rushmore fit onto the 1 head of crazy horse!  At Mt. Rushmore I got a Junior Ranger book.  One reason I really liked Mt. Rushmore is because it had Theodore Roosevelt on it.  I learned that the four heads, from left to right, are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.  I liked Mount Rushmore because it had a good meaning: Freedom.  As long as the faces stand upon the mountain, there will be freedom in America.  Another thing that I learned was that they tried to create the sculpture on the highest mountain possible because they wanted it to be close to the heavens.  One thing that I did not like about Mt. Rushmore was that the right side of Abe Lincoln had very scratchy work, and I do not think he deserved that. 

After we left Mt. Rushmore we went back to the campground.  We went to the pool and swam for a bit, then we ate dinner, and made popcorn and watched a movie.  Then I went to bed at 10:15pm.

I had an amazing day!

Day 3 - Wind Cave, South Dakota

(by Madison)

Today we are in South Dakota at Wind Cave National Park.  Wind Cave is special because it was the first cave to become a US national park.  What makes Wind Cave special is that it contains 95% of the worlds known boxwork formation.  Boxwork is a unique formation where the limestone is dissolved around a harder shell, and what is left is the structure that looks like a bunch of small boxes.

Wind Cave was discovered by a man named Alvin McDonald who was walking along a path and heard wind coming out of a small hole in the ground.  It was not windy outside, so he decided to check it out.  The story says that when he bent over to look, his hat blew right off his head.  He went to get some of his buddies to help him explore the cave.  When they came back the next day they brought everything they would need to go into the cave:  a candle, warm cloths, and a ball of string.  I learned that the ball of string was used for navigation.  Alvin would roll out the string as he walked, and then roll it back up to find his way out.  When they went in, Alvin fell in love with the cave.  He continued to explore the cave for 4 years when he went to Chicago to share what he learned at the Worlds Fair.  However, he caught Typhoid Fever and died.

We went on a tour where you could see frostwork, popcorn, and boxwork.  I liked seeing the frostwork because it looks shiny and like fragile show.  The box work was really cool because it looked like a red piece of paper that is very fragile. 

When we were done touring wind cave we drove into an 18 mile wildlife loop.  We saw bison, wild donkey, and pronghorn (the fastest animal in North America.  I was excited an really liked seeing the Pronghorn because it is such a fast animal.  Although we had seen many buffalo before, this time they were in heat do the males were chasing the females and sometimes fighting with each other.

I had a great day at Wind Cave and Custer State Park.
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Xiu on

Girls - I went to the shore and met up with Uncle Dave, Aunt Linda and Uncle Ron, Pop pop, grammy, Ryan and friends of pop pop and Grammy. The weather was not so nice but we still had a good time. Uncle Dave said that he can Aunt Linda are driving to Mount Rushmore in a few weeks for 14 days. I told them you can help them to plan their trip when you see them soon. Hope you guys are all feeling better!!!

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