Summer Trip 2015
So, it has probably been a year (or more) since I have posted anything to the blog but Malcolm has thankfully taken up the slack. As I sit down tonight in non-air conditioned room that barely has room to walk around, let alone sleep 4, I am trying to relax and let go of the small mistakes I have made on the trip. We have been gone from home for 2 ½ weeks and it has been thoroughly busy but enjoyable. As I look back, I see laughter, smiles and lots of love for my family. We are lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to go on a trip like this and see our family. No little ‘hiccups’ should get in the way of seeing this wonderful opportunity to make memories for both myself and my family. So, though I am not the blogger that Malcolm is, I will try to fill in for him and chronicle some of our trip so far as well as provide some fun photos that we can look back on to remember our summer trip of 2015!
Though the days have been long and we are not even halfway to Oregon, we have already had some good memories. We started off by taking back roads in MN and SD to get to the campground we had reserved in the heart of the Black Hills National Forest. We made sure to stop at the huge Raven statue at the Belgrade Centennial Memorial in MN and the girls had a chance to run off some of their sillies and pose for the first of many ‘classic vacation photos’ to chronicle our journey. It was beautiful memorial for such a small town in the middle rural MN and I had never been there that I recall.
Our goal for the trip is to have a picture to for each state that we drive through so the girls can look back and have proof of which ones they have visited (maybe one day we’ll make an album!) Here are the one we have so far, notice that we were on the dirt backroads of SD/WY when we hit the state line…not such a fancy sign in middle of free range cow pastures!
BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK/Black Hills
This was the one thing so far that I wish I had planned differently. We only got a chance to drive through the badland with a QUICK walk/climb in the park. We were already so late that we had to race through it in order to reach our campground in the middle of the Black Hills. I wish we had planned for time to hike and climb this beautiful landscape. It was absolutely beautiful! Danielle was an absolute daredevil making me squirm as she shot to the top of the rocks barefoot no less! No fear for climbing, I guess, though deep, dark caves….not so much. (more to come!)
Rushing on we made the journey to our campground but we arrived after dark and with a thunderstorm on our tails. It was a very stressful 30 minutes trying to set up the tent in the dark with thunder/lighting sounding ominously in the background. (Not my proudest of parenting times and I am sure not the most exciting of setups for camping the girls will have). However, we got it up and we were in the tent not 10 minutes before first pea-sized hail then downpour rain hit. We were so thankful to have it up in time but realized that it was the first hail storm we had ever camped in! The girls were scared and Danielle spent most of the night at the bottom of the sleeping bag and I spent the next while worried that the tent would blow down and we would end up sopping wet. The reality was that the tent stayed up but the waterproofing I had sprayed after our Texas trip did not hold up to the raging thunderstorm. But we mostly stayed dry…just a couple of damp pillows/clothes but almost everything was still dry…thankfully!
I don’t believe I have ever been to Mount Rushmore before this trip, I was surprised at how commercialized/built up. Multi-level parking garages and the expected hordes of tourists. It reminded me of an amusement park, that is until you see the beauty and wonder of the monument. It is hard to fathom how they could construct it without modern technology with just the vision of a man and dynamite and jackhammers! Super cool. This was the one place that Michaela wanted to see on our trip though I am sure it had a large part to do with recognizing it from school. Though it was not quite as she expected either as she was more under the misconception as I that is was more of a natural area and less of a ‘business/touristy’ feel. Though both girls did think that the monument itself was “awesome!”
Black Hills Cave Tour
I decided buy a ‘groupon’ for a cave tour and we went there after Rushmore. The cave itself was nothing spectacular but provided the girls with enough ‘fear’ that it was exhilarating for them and they enjoyed it. The cave itself was mostly dead due to human pollution of touching and so forth, but it was cool to walk through the caverns and enjoy how nervous the girls were about exploring such a dark space 100s of feet below ground. It seemed such a milestone for them to conquer their fear and continue the tour, though I am sure they will not be volunteering to go down one by themselves anytime soon!
On to Yellowstone
Today, we spent most of the day driving from the Black Hills to Cody, WY but we still had a good day and got to see Devil’s Tower as well, but it was a quick drive by/potty break before heading on. After looking at our picture from here I had to edit it to sepia/black & white because it reminded me so much of the old time portraits where no one smiles! My only defense is that it was REALLY bright!!!
Though one of the funniest parts of the day for me was at the beginning when we used the van’s “Shortest Route” navigation to Cody. Being in the heart of the black hills and 1 hour from the freeway I asked the campground manager about the back way/shortest way to the free heading to Yellowstone. He recommended that we should take it but made us aware that it had quite a bit gravel. After 20 miles our route turned to dirt and we had 6 cows laying in the road....luckily another option existed and we didn't have to backtrack. Malcolm liked it as we were able to stop quickly for birds, including a Townsend's Solitaire just over the WY border. More to come in a few days, we're hoping to find a camping spot in Yellowstone tomorrow....fingers crossed.