The steep roads that wind up to the memorial of Mount Rushmore are completely deserted. This high tourist place of South Dakota attracts more in these times of pandemic that a few clusters of visitors opportunists happy to escape the containment.
Tired of hearing every day the balance sheets grow tragically in their hometown of Chicago, Linda and Stevie Easterling had wanted to take the air to change the ideas.
They have, on a whim, filled their car’s ” masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes “, and headed West to one of the last States in the u.s. not to live confined.
“We’re probably safer here,” muses lady, excited to be a “two birds with one stone” by scratching at the same time a new line of his ” list of things to see “.
Behind it rise (left to right) the monumental heads of former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, carved wooden sticks of dynamite into the granite of the mountains of the Black Hills.
At the entrance to the site, where rangers shirt grey typically collect $ 10 per car, the gates are lifted for access to the parking lot, almost empty. The information centre, the cafeteria and the gift shops are closed, but tourists can still wander freely from 5: 00 to 23: 00.
“We saved $ 10 and was able to park directly in front of the entrance,” says Duston Cox, who has made a slight detour on his way back from a mission work in Montana.
His companion, Jatonna Miller, is also a few good sides to the situation: “there are less people and less traffic. It is a plus, but it is a little sad to see the economy suffer because of all this.”
A few kilometers from there, Keystone was like a ghost town in his fake background of far-west. Alone in his great souvenirs, Todd Wicks keeps morale: the high tourist season starts anyway really until mid-may in this corner of the United States.
The trader says it is “pleased” that the governor of South Dakota has not placed order for containment to its population. “Most people have nothing to fear “, he says. “As long as one keeps his hands clean, I think it is still possible to travel without danger.”
The containment of the vast majority of Americans and the lack of international flights have affected the attendance of the memorial, “clearly inferior to the one usually found at this time of year, when we get a lot of school groups,” notes Maureen McGee-Ballinger under his hat store.
While the u.s. national park service has closed one at a time most of its sites, including the popular Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite, Mount Rushmore, attracts more than 2 million visitors a year, is almost an exception.
“We want to offer people a small opportunity to get some fresh air,” says Maureen McGee-Ballinger before getting their picture taken with a small word for the 14th anniversary of Peyten, a young aspiring ranger confined in Kentucky.
In order to give himself the courage to swallow the 14 hours of the drive back up to Chicago, Stevie Easterling turns around one last time to contemplate the “spectacular” faces presidential, carved from 1927 to 1941 under the supervision of Gutzon Borglum.
The artist was chosen through the Washington (birth), Jefferson (growth), Roosevelt (development) and Lincoln (preservation) represent four outstanding periods in american history.
Donald Trump would have his place in this ” shrine of democracy “?
“Let’s leave this place as it is,” replies Stevie Easterling in a smirk leaving easily guess the background of his thought.