Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spending Canada Day in America

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Road Trip 2009, Day 3: Rapid City, South Dakota

I am a firm believer that when I'm visiting another country, I need to blend in. So even though it was Canada Day on our first non driving day of our road trip, I wasn't about it announce it.

We are guests in America. Ya think they CARE if it's Canada Day, when they are gearing up for the fourth of July? Likely not. We are near Mount Rushmore, the shrine to democracy, about to herald the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed, and you want me to run around with a Canada t-shirt on waving my little maple leaf flag and sing about how it's our country's birthday?

I don't think so.

So when a group of Canadians arrived in the hotel breakfast room all decked out in their Canadian shirts, faces painted, announcing to anyone that would listen that it's Canada Day, we silently ate our toast.

"Hey, you're Canadian, where's your shirt!!?" they scolded some poor soul who blurted he was from Winnipeg. He didn't know how to respond and received a lecture on pride in his country.

"We're going to Mount Rushmore today!" the woman chirped.

Really? Do you have to? I love my country as much as anyone, but don't you think that is just slightly rude? Since we're guests, don't you think it would be more appropriate to be respectful of the American holiday and culture, and celebrate Canada day anywhere BUT at the shrine to their presidents?

I was a bit embarrassed for my country, to be honest.

So we left our Canadian garb at the hotel and visited Mount Rushmore for the day, since the monument was gearing up for July fourth and their impending fireworks with thousands of people over the next couple days. Let's do it early when it's NOT busy!

It was raining a little, but not much. I have a ton of photos from our last trip to Rushmore, so this time I just took one of the Presidents. We explained to Jake who each president was and then walked through the museum.

I was really glad that I worked in a grade 9 class this past year where we studied early America, slavery, and the American Revolution. I was able to explain to Jake much of what he was seeing because I want him to really understand America, and not make snap judgments out of ignorance. It's historical; and to me, it's important. I don't want him to take his freedom for granted. I want him to see the big picture.

At one point, he stopped at looked at the plaque above, read the words, and I think he really understood what it meant.

Then just to support the whole capitalism thing, we bought some ridiculously overpriced sodas with pictures of past presidents on them to take back to his social studies teacher. I get a kick out of that, really. A shrine where you are respectful to the people who fought to make the country free, and yet you can get a soda with Lincoln stamped on the front.

We left Mount Rushmore and drove down the hill to Keystone, a tiny, busy, flashy, tourist trappy town just down the road. We wanted to poke around through the shops. As we drove down the busy street, suddenly this guy was walking around in the middle of the road. He was yelling, and dragging this massive leather whip along.

"Umm...honey?" We weren't sure if he was acting, or real. Was he some crazy person? "I think we need to change lanes." He was right next to the car and oh my God, he looked sorta scary and was freaking me out. It didn't take long before we realized that he was an actor, advertising some indoor gun fight thing happening at the saloon.


Travel Tip #3-in Keystone, if you've seen ONE tourist trappy store, you have seen them ALL because they all sell the SAME thing.

We left the trappings of Keystone and went on the hunt for rock shops. Hubs and Jake remembered this place, which we had been to the last time we were in the area.

Jake and Hubs can spend HOURS in a rock shop. They poked through the piles of rocks, they looked at the jewelry and the tumbling machines, they picked out stuff they wanted, and they chatted it up with the owner.

So when I noticed a sign saying "Rockhounding Tours", they were interested. Really interested. We made a deal to meet back at the shop on July 3rd to go do some rockhounding with a guide out at some mine. Exciting! Jake and Hubs were shocked that I suggested it, but why not? If we are going to actually find stuff, I'm game.

That night we decided to try TGI Fridays for dinner, and wow! I really like these restaurants that have a smaller portion option. I recommend you try the Dragonfire Chicken or the Chicken and Sausage Penne. Yummy.

Coming up: The power of suggestion works and we visit Wall Drug, SD.

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