Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mt. Rushmore

Tucked away in the Black Hills of South Dakota is Mt. Rushmore. Flat Stanley stopped by for a photo with four of our most famous presidents:

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln

Washington was chosen due to his involvement in the birth of the country; Jefferson due to his expansion of the country through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803; Lincoln due to his acts to preserve the country through the civil war; and Roosevelt due to his development of the United States as a world power and influence, as seen in the building of the Panama Canal.

There is a very nice visitor center there, packed with information about the presidents and the carving of the monument. It’s amazing to think that dynamite and chisels could render such fine sculpture. Originally the monument had been planned to include about half of the upper bodies of the presidents as well. The project ran out of funding in 1941, and, due to World War II and the death of the project leader, was not further funded to complete the project. If you look closely, you can see where President Washington’s coat was going to be.

Believe it or not, it takes some effort to maintain these rock stars. They are exposed to the elements of nature all year long. Most of the year is not a problem. However, winter can be harsh. If there are any open cracks in the faces, water could seep in. Then when the water freezes, the expansion could enlarge the cracks. Over time, such a process could lead to cracking their noses off! To combat the threat of freeze damage, the original sculptors packed a pasty mixture of lead carbonate and linseed oil into the cracks. Nowadays, the cracks are treated with silicone sealant, to which some granite sand is sprinkled on top so that it blends in with the rest of the rock face.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Twin Sisters Summit Hike

In the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Flat Stanley bravely ascended Twin Sisters Mountain to the very peak. This required a hike of 7.4 miles, round trip. During the hike, Stanley changed in elevation from 9,154 feet to 11,451 feet. Not bad for a flat guy that lives pretty much at sea level! The summit afforded a fabulous 360 degree view, which was a wonderful reward well worth the journey. “I felt like I was standing on top of the world!,” said Flat Stanley.

It was a little windy up on top of the mountain, making the cool temperature even more brisk. But since he was well warmed from the hike, the cool air was refreshing.

During the hike, Flat Stanley saw elk, chipmunks, squirrels, marmots, and a host of birds. Wildlife was plentiful! The flora was nice too. There were both bright orange and almost neon-green lichen. Occasionally there would be pretty flowers along the path. And many of the pine trees grew in a twisted pattern to help provide strength during the fierce mountain weather.

A thunderstorm arrived while we were on the ascent. Given that the hike was going to take us above the tree line, the storm threatened to prohibit the journey to the peak. But fortunately, the storm passed by quickly. By the time we reached the peak, the sun was shining bright as could be.



The Peak


Orange Lichen