Friday, June 8, 2012

Traveling Home

The beginning of the end is nigh.  And I don’t mean the great Zombie Apocalypse is finally upon us.  Although, it doesn’t seem too outrageous considering cannibalism’s shocking resurgence in recent news stories.  No, I mean our journey is coming to an end, and the experiences are slowly fading and diminishing.  I know my family members following this trip will be disappointed, while my friends will most likely thank me for ceasing the email updates, and I suppose those feelings inform my own.  I absolutely love writing about this trip with dad, but I’m also friggin’ ready for it to end. 

The end starts with Mount Rushmore.

Remember those long diatribes about America’s diverse and expansive and beautiful landscapes?  Well, I think I’m done with that.  This isn’t to say the miles and miles of desert and farmland aren’t picturesque; they are.  And I’m happy to see so much yellow and green thriving outside the cities we’ve visited.  I’m just tired of looking at the same thing.  I blame part of this unexpected sentiment on Dad’s car (our second home), which I’ve come to regard as a mechanical coffin quite like an elevator.  You can probably tell small spaces are not my friend.  Essentially, the rides are long and boring and torturous until you reach the national park shrouding Mount Rushmore, which is populated with spurts of dense, towering forest and a surprising number of dead, burnt, or stripped trees that both repel and fascinate the viewer.  We later learned that the park system is purposely thinning the forest because some sort of terrorist beetle is killing the trees in close proximity to one another.  It’s unnerving to see how much of the forest has been affected by the beetle and the process.  

We finally made it to Mount Rushmore at 6 PM after 11 hours of driving.  Our backs and legs ached when we exited the car, and our moods were definitely not the happy father-son moods that characterize much of this road trip.  We were tired, and I’m sad to confess, Mount Rushmore was not what we needed to perk up.  Don’t get me wrong; the mountain is incredible, and the history is even more inspiring.  The park was just too underwhelming for two already tired and defeated travelers.  Addendum: I feel very un-American typing this.  We did our best to snap pictures and wander the museum (which contained a very fun faux-dynamite blast game that involved pushing a lever that exploded portions of Mount Rushmore on a television screen.  I played it three times).  However, we left much of the park untouched, including trails, theaters, and the sculptor’s studio behind the mountain.  I’ve added these to my ever-growing bucket list.

Gutzon Borglum is the impressive sculptor responsible for Mount Rushmore.  His equally impressive son sculpted this.  

The next day promised another long drive (13 hours) to Kansas City, MO and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  I won’t overwhelm you with the exciting details of the drive because they were not exciting.  It was just one of those drives where you fantasize about taking the car off-road or engaging in a high-speed chase or shunting fellow cars for bonus points like you do in Burnout: Revenge (one of those Playstation games that probably sends the wrong message to children about car safety).  

Anyway, we made it to Kansas City around 6 PM, dropped the car off at the hotel, and walked to the museum.  The Nelson-Atkins Museum actually reminded me of the National Mall in DC because it offers a lot of open green space for couples to picnic, friends to toss the frisbee, and actors to rehearse Anthony and Cleopatra on the steps leading to the museum (we walked through the middle of that last one).  Here are a couple pics I took along the walk to the museum through the Kansas City Plaza:

These are a few of my favorites from the museum:

Subodh Gupta's Egg (2010)

Thomas Hart Benton's Open Country (1952)

Kara Walker's Scene of McPherson's Death (2005)

Thomas Hart Benton's Hollywood (1937-38)

Home is right around the corner!  We're on our way to Zanesville, Ohio today.  


  1. Come home! We miss you. And the museum shots are fabulous -- I love Open Country, Hollywood, and the egg. Let's go museum-ing when you get back.

    Concur? Concur.

  2. Matt,
    The opening photo of you on the stone wall is spectacular!! There is an adjective I don't think I have used yet! Yippee! I just love it!!! Mount Rushmore is impressive! What another great shot! It is discouraging to hear about the forest being over taken by beetles. I am sure you are tired, as you mentioned. The boring drive & just being in a confined space for long periods would tire me. I love the courtyard photo in Kansas City. Is that in the museum? Beautiful! Best wishes as you continue back to us! See you in Ohio!