Deer pranced and fed amongst the pines.
But there was more than met their sense of sight. For these hills were once a thriving sea. Helping to sustain life during a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Arnie and Reggie took a closer look. What was below?
Arnie parked the Tesla. Reggie strapped on the camera. They descended a flight of stairs. "Let's take a deeper look," said Ranger Melissa. "Welcome to Jewel Caves National Park."
After channeling his inner Batman, Arnie took to the controls of the Tesla. He tapped the icons on the navigation system and he and his writer were off to their next destination. But en route, they sensed trouble in the world.
"Holy buffalo scat, Arnie!" Reggie said.
"What is it, Reggie?"
"Those trees--hundreds, maybe thousands of pine trees are brown!"
"Yes, Reggie. The Black Hills of South Dakota has experienced a pine beetle infestation," Arnie said. "Once infested, a tree will slowly die. The red trees were infested last year and are now dead. To protect from this epidemic, forest rangers embarked on an extensive thinning program to return the forest to a more sustainable condition."
To date, the National Memorial was protected from the beetles, but will it be in the future?
Arnie and Reggie stayed for the lighting ceremony. The master of ceremonies spoke of liberty--how it was not just a word to be read in a text book, or a word to throw around in debates, but something to show and exercise in daily life. An inspiring video followed, highlighting the character and accomplishments of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Then military veterans in the crowd were invited to the stage to introduce themselves and be honored with applause.
The night was clear. The quarter moon rose. Patriotism filled the cool mountain air.