I have had many traveling experiences with my mother. There is one trip, however, that has birthed many great memories and given me a very well rounded perspective on other cultures and things outside of my own living environment. The trip that stands out the most is Mount Rushmore.
It was August 2006; my mother said she wanted to see a patriotic symbol in America. Luckily she likes to drive at night with less traffic and the added bonus of me being able to sleep in the car. The first day, we drove to New Jersey and we spent time with my uncle, aunt and five month old cousin.
I like spending time with family, so that portion of the trip was enjoyable. Next stop was Cleveland, Ohio. After settling in, we were off to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
At first I was intimidated by the ominous boredom I imagined the visit would bring, but like living with an annoying sibling, I got used to it. After a while of strolling around, I found my way to a display of various musicians’ clothing. Each display was accompanied by a small plaque that described the who, what, and where of the clothing.
One display that caught my eye was of the front man of the band KISS, Gene Simmons. It was a diamond encrusted leather jumpsuit with spikes on the shoulders and high cut platform leather boots. I remember asking myself, how many cows were used to manufacture that exotic piece of attire? Later, we walked around the city.
Then, it was back in our vehicle for even more highways and interstates. Now, Chicago was a fun city. The architecture alone was a sight, especially the globe that reflects the city.
We rode the loop (above ground train system), took the bus and walked. We visited Sears Tower, Michael Jordan’s statue (the highlight for me) and we saw cool fountains. Faces of everyday people were used on walls, the water would shoot out of their mouth and then over their head on to the pedestrians standing underneath.
After three days in the Windy City, we were off to Minnesota. Minnesota was boring. We visited the Mall of America (the largest mall in the USA) and took a train ride to Minneapolis.
These train rides certainly were nothing like New York train rides. No crowds and on time. Driving to South Dakota was nothing but cows and bulls. We did stop along the way to visit a town built in 1800. The man that lived there was in his nineties and had quite a few collectibles. We visited the saloon (played the piano), the post office, drug store, church and living quarters. We had lunch inside a train car.
After lunch we were back on the road to South Dakota. We went straight to Mount Rushmore and spent the day. We saw Crazy Horse (A legendary Indian betrayed by the Americans for his people’s land). After dinner, we went back to Mount Rushmore. We actually got to shake President Lincoln’s hand; well a man who looked exactly like him. The Presidents’ heads were not as large as I thought. Never the less they were amazing. The museum showed the process, timeframe and obstacles faced in building them.
After the tour, we stayed for the evening ceremony. We left after the lighting of the monuments. My mom stopped at a rest area and tried to wake me at 6:00 A.M. to use the restroom. I wanted to sleep. I decided she was right and it would probably be a while before I saw another rest area. Forty miles later, my mother was pulled over by a state trooper. He asked her if she was at a rest stop. She answered yes; he then asked if she knew where her son was. Confidently she answered yes and turned to the back seat to find I wasn’t there.
You see, I got out of the car while she was gone. She thought I was sleeping and drove off. I called 911 and they tracked her down. She had to explain what happened and both her and the trooper laughed. The trooper picked me up at the rest area and drove me to my mother. She asked me if I was scared. I said no. I asked her if she cried. She said no. We laughed. In the end, the trip was great. My mother and I spent time together while traveling across the country.
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