Lost my heart in the Black Hills…

 I drove through Upton, Wyoming on my way to the Black Hills. It was beautiful country, a lazy, winding drive, dotted with darling towns. On Upton’s tall water tower was the proud proclamation “BEST TOWN ON EARTH.” I thought, what audacity! To proclaim your town the best on earth! It threw me into paroxysms of philosophical wonderings. What makes this town, population 1100, think they are the best on earth? What would it take to be the best town? For me, an awesome coffee shop and theater company would be high on the list. But I was intrigued with the idea that they believed in themselves so strongly. And I wondered what it would take for me to say I was the best woman on earth, NO, the best PERSON on earth? I couldn’t get there. I know too many phenomenal people to have the galls to put myself above them. But wouldn’t it be amazing to feel and believe you were the best person, actor, artist, trombone player, whatever, on earth? I think it is something to aspire to. This is what being in the car for hours alone can provide. Time to ponder and take my thoughts to a new dimension just by seeing words on a water tower.

If you haven’t heard of the Crazy Horse Monument, you need to. It is a sculpture being carved out of a mountain 30 minutes or so from Mt. Rushmore and ten times larger. I saw the scarred mountain from miles away and could feel the excitement rising into my throat as I was pretending to be Doris Day in Calamity Jane singing…

Take me back to the black hills

The black hills of Dakota

To the beautiful Indian country 

That I lo-ove

Conceived by the Lakota tribe to preserve and honor the Native American culture, they approached Korczak Ziokowski a self-taught sculptor who never took a formal art lesson in his life, to sculpt tribal hero Crazy Horse in the Black Hills. It is a crazy beautiful vision started in 1948. There is so much to say about it, I was enthralled with every minute being there and it’s not even one-third of the way finished and will not be finished in my lifetime. They are doing it methodically, without state or federal funds, one family’s dream to make one of the most grand monuments on earth. It is REALLY incredible. You must go.

Lost my heart in the black hills

The black hills of Dakota

Where the pines are so high 

That they kiss the sky above

I took the bus tour up to the base of the sculpture, wandered through the museum and kept my gaze peeled to the mountain. I am so inspired by passionate people doing crazy passionate things. Mr. Ziokowski was a survivor and didn’t even start the monument until he was 40 yrs old. He knew he would not come close to finishing it in his lifetime and left detailed measurements for the sculpting to continue after his death in 1982. His wife and children have kept up the work and it humbles me to compare my simple dreams to the likes of this. One person can accomplish so much. I want to be that inspiring. He really moved mountains, with dynamite, what a sight to see.

And when I get that lonesome feelin’

And I’m miles away from home

I hear the voice of the mystic mountains

Callin’ me back home

I drove by Mount Rushmore on my way to Rapid City and after seeing Crazy Horse, was not as impressed with the presidential heads. Of course they are amazing too, but there was no comparison in size, passion and depth of dream. I could easily paint boldly on their water tower BEST SCULPTURE ON EARTH, when it gets finished that is….

So take me back to the black hills 

The black hills of Dakota 

To the beautiful Indian country

That I love


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