Yesterday was our first day at work. We started by doing all the paperwork one does when starting a new job. We then took a tour of the facility and saw the movie in the visitors center. We then met our supervisors and were assigned to our "trainers for the day". Rudee works in the gift shop which is located in the main building adjacent to the visitors center, museum, restaurant etc.
I am working at the ticket gate which is a line of booths halfway up the main entrance drive. I exchange the visitors "dead presidents" for entrance tickets. The entrance fee is $10 per person or $27 for a car load, motorcycles and bicycles/walkers get a break of $5 per person. There are several "discounts" for Military (both active and veterans), boy scouts in uniform, Native Americans etc.
I had several people feel like the fees were too high and we try to explain there is a lot more to see then just a big rock being carved. There is an impressive museum with thousands of artifacts as well as Native American vendors selling their hand made wares. They have Native American dancers entertaining several times a day. You can even get free coffee and a free rock (with authenticity) that was blown off the mountain. We were very impressed with the facility and could spend 2-3 hours looking over everything. For an additional fee ($4) you can take a tour to the bottom of the mountain for a closer view of the carving and every night there is a laser light show on the side of the mountain. You end up getting a lot for your $10 admission (in my opinion) plus you can get a "pass out" and return for free anytime in the next three days.
I enjoy talking to the folks driving in, even though it is brief. I had a small motorhome pull up with Indiana plates and talked to them as they were deciding whether to pay or turn around. I told them how I was impressed with the facility and they decided to give it a try. A couple of hours later they came back out and stopped near our booths and motioned me over. I thought they just had a question so walked over to help. They were all wide eyed and thanked me for talking them into going in! They said it was the best place they had stopped in the Black Hills and had to drag their teenage daughter away from the place. They also said they got a return pass and were coming back tomorrow. I had a big smile on my face and it sure was nice of them to take the time to stop and thank me, it made my day!
Rudee and I both liked our first day and our co-workers. I think we are going to have some fun here. One thing is a little odd, the wife of the original sculptor is very much involved in the day to day operations. She is 87 years old and some of the rules are a little "quirky". I met her yesterday and she is such a sweetheart. She makes the final schedule and it is not posted until late in the day so you really don't know exactly what shift you will be working tomorrow until it is almost time to go home today. That's a little weird but we have been told we will have the same days off together and they will be consistent from week to week. She also lives on site in the original cabin her and her husband built when he first started the carving. Her cabin is attached to the museum and you even go through part of it that they still use for family gatherings. When I met her (and one of her daughters) they welcomed me to their "home", that was kinda cool and their attitude is that we are all a big family not just employees. :-)
Rudee works the day shift today and I go in at 1pm and work until close (around 9:30 for us shack dwellers LOL). The atmosphere at work is laid back, fun and upbeat. Just what we wanted after such a bad experience last year at the KOA. I'll keep you posted.