Seventeen, curving miles later, we pulled in. I hardly recognized the place, the grounds had changed so much since 1978. Thirty years ago, (if memory served me right), there had been only a short dirt driving leading to a ram-shackled visitor's center. The mountain "sculpture" was only a crude cutting of rock, a shaved 90-degree ledge which would eventually become the arm of Crazy Horse pointing towards the distant horizon. This was all I could remember, all there was to see.
Now, as Cote and I drove up the smoothly paved driveway, Crazy Horse mountain was at first blocked from our view. Beautiful buildings of various design, large log-style structures, dotted the landscape. People were milling all over, sipping drinks, looking at pamphlets, wandering the grounds. Besides the new wooden Welcome Center, timber-framed with huge plate glass windows, there was a souvenir-stuffed gift shop, a sit down restaurant, an open-air viewing deck, and a larger than life Native American museum. My excitement level jumped three notches when I realized what all this must mean! The work to bring Crazy Horse to "life" must be over!
I could hardly believe that after 30 years I was going to get to see the finished product. The images from my childhood, tucked away so long ago, would today be replaced with new and sharply detailed pictures of the great monument in full formation. And I would become one of those lucky enough to have witnessed the "before" and "after."