Mount Rushmore National Memorial Tour

02 Oct 2015 8:20 PM | Deleted user

by Godie Lomotan Valenzuela, UPCN'67, BSN, RN, CNOR

Ecstatic from another well attended convention, 98 UPNAAI members from Classes '61, '63, ’65, '66, '67, '68, '69, '72, '79, and ‘80 joined by spouses, friends and guests boarded two Tour Coach buses on the morning of August 9, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Garden Grove in California. Nati Matitu Mercado, GN'68 led the group in the first bus like a "maestro" conductress of an orchestra. As if in a concert, the rhythm segued into a melody; not a cacophony of sounds but more like a symphony, so sweet and so uplifting to the soul! Every "Hello, I am ......, glad to meet you" introduction to bus mates declared that life is beautiful and we are blessed to embrace it! Norma Arevalo Yabut led the group in the second bus.

After the morning prayer, Mongo our tour guide, played Neil Diamond's "America.” The beat reverberated in the hearts and minds of the lively group. Lyvia Villegas, GN'68 started the ball rolling and set the tone long before we reached the first of seven State Parks and National Memorial. With her repertoire of dance, songs, poetry, and comedy, she entertained with "gusto"and inspired many others to follow .With talents galore right on day one, the drive seemed short!

The first attraction we visited was NEVADA'S VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK. We marveled at this "vanishing sea of red sands laid down about 200 million years ago during the Mesozoic Era. When the sea retreated for the last time the region became a gigantic plain of sand, silt and clay gravel".

On day 2 we were awed by ARCHES NATIONAL PARK in UTAH. It is a landscape of contrasting colors, land forms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, hundreds of soaring pinnacles, fins and giant balanced rocks.” We hiked half a mile uphill to see the famous Double Arch around 2 PM in 100 degree weather! It wasn't easy but what an exhilarating experience!

On August 11, the third day of our journey, the bus followed the COLORADO RIVER TO GLENWOOD CANYON passing through picturesque MOUNTAIN SKI RESORTS like VAIL, wherein some beautiful houses and abundant verdant pine trees evoked sceneries similar to those in Switzerland and Germany.

After passing through EISENHOWER TUNNEL we arrived at RED ROCK PARK, famous for its "Open Air Amphitheater between two giant red rocks.” Shortly thereafter we proceeded to the COORS BREWERY at the foot of the COLORADO ROCKIES, acclaimed as the "largest single site brewery in the world.” We were treated to a sampling of their beer after a tour of the facility. Blue Moon was the ladies' choice. It was mild and refreshing.

On the fourth day (August 12) we reached the CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL, a monument depicting Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota Warrior. It is on private land in the Black Hills of Custer County, South Dakota. "It was started 50 years ago and is still under construction.” We learned about North American Indian at the MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA and CULTURAL CENTER.

The highlight of this trip, MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, in South Dakota, evoked feelings of patriotism as we started to visualize the four faces of the US presidents, etched in granite up high in the mountain. Certainly, sculptor Gutzon Berglum accomplished "the purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation and unification of the UNITED STATES with the statues of WASHINGTON, JEFFERSON, LINCOLN and THEODORE ROOSEVELT.”

After lunch all of us gathered for a group picture at the Hall of Flags with the Rushmore National Memorial in the background. On day 5 (August 13) we got a view of INDEPENDENCE ROCK in Wyoming, a state historic park which name comes from "a party of fur trappers who camped on July 4, 1824. It is a large granite rock 1,900 feet long, 700 feet wide and rises 128 feet.” As an added activity to this day, Mongo and his wife gave us Tai Chi lessons during the morning break. Going back to UTAH we stopped at SALT LAKE CITY for a tour of the TEMPLE OF JESUS CHRIST OF THE LATTER DAY SAINTS. Visitors are welcome to the venue for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but the Church/ Temple itself is for members only.

On day 6 (August 14) we got into BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK. The "hoodoos, fantastic red orange and pink limestone spirals” from SUNSET POINT (8,000 feet elevation) are awesome vistas! This is where we got a brief reprieve from the oppressive summer heat when it rained for a very short time. By the way how did you feel after imbibing that cool spring water from the spigot at the picnic area? Younger, skin devoid of wrinkles, huh?

The end of the tour descended upon us with the appearance of a rainbow while leaving UTAH heading to LAS VEGAS, NEVADA. To some it seemed like a premonition of riches to come— could the pot of gold be near at hand? The symbolism was not lost but it only reinforced the consensus that we all hit the jackpot already! The treasure is right there with us all along— the priceless bounty of friendship, the talents and inspiration vicariously enjoyed all throughout the tour. Not only did we come upon the natural and manmade rock formations but more importantly we witnessed rock solid presentations and personalities in the group!

We salute the following:

Ed presented: "Developing a Research Agenda". He stimulated our brains and validated that Nursing is not a menial job but a "cerebral pursuit.”

For her excellent delivery of her expertise: Conflict and Conflict Resolution. She gave us salient points on how to attain and improve charisma as well as how to "metacommunicate.” She spoke so well that we heard and listened to every word she said!

For her untiring effort to educate us on DIABETES, specifically, the "ROLE OF THE KIDNEY on THE PATHO PHYSIOLOGY OF TYPE 2 DIABETES; EMERGING TREATMENTS
She gave us detailed pointers on how to manage the daily challenges of living with this dreadful condition.

It was a very timely topic not only because of the drought in California but also because we were traveling along the Colorado River during his presentation. Did you know that LA gets all of its water from this river? It measures 1540 miles long and 244square miles.
My take away from his lecture : "drinking 5 glasses of water daily reduces colon cancer by 75%"!

This fellow ,very unassuming in his ways, is the spouse of Consuelo Guevarra, GN'68. He rendered a very inspiring and motivational testimony—"true happiness is giving without expecting anything in return.” To date, the ASA ARCHITECTURAL GROUP FOUNDATION has built a non-profit hospital for Kidney Dialysis and 1,060 Schools (initially 5 in 1993) in Pakistan. The schools with 51% girls are for children without family and money. He also helped in the Himalayas after the devastating earthquake in the construction of 8000 homes with water supply within 110 mile radius of the mountain. His mantra, " It is between you and GOD and He will never let go of you if you hold on to His rope."Shahid is worth emulating and he gives us hope for a better and more peaceful world!

To sum it all: the daily morning prayers; music by Mongo, our guide; the safe and professional driving by George; pro bono tips ,the singing, dancing, poetry, sharing of life /love stories inside the bus transformed it into a rolling library, theater, university, inspirational avenue. It was a profound feeling and I quote Shahid "GOD had a reason why and how we got together for this trip.” This group of nurses, doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, homemakers, and a former nun (Filipino Italian) - melded into one solid rock of humanity for seven happy days! No wonderMongo proclaimed "This is the best group I have ever had in my 20 some years as a Tour Guide!” Atty. Nony Advincula thanked Nati and UPNAAI for accommodating him and his wife Olive, saying "we have toured around the world but this is the best tour EVER!"

Kudos to Nati , Lyvia and everyone who helped made the tour a truly enjoyable one!  |   University of the Philippines Nursing Alumni Association International, Inc.
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