Sunday, September 5, 2010

Our road trip

For years I have wanted to pack up the kiddos and take a road trip to Mount Rushmore and I have wanted to take them through Custer State Park to see the landscapes and buffalo. This is our last weekend before we all head back to school, so we jumped in the car and began our 9 hour adventure to Rapid City, South Dakota. Erik was not able to join us because he was at the PAX conference in Seattle Washington. We made a few stops along the way...
In Mitchell, South Dakota is the corn palace. We did not visit it at the right time, because they were already getting ready for next year. It was interesting, but kind-of anti-climatic. All along Interstate 90 there are signs for Wall Drug. We had fun reading them...things like "Free ice-water at Wall Drug" or "Homemade Pie at Wall Drug." Of course we stopped and played around at Wall drug. Both stops were great chances to get out of the car and stretch our legs.
We loved our hotel in Rapid city. It had an 8 story water fall, glass elevators and served the most incredible waffles for breakfast. Of course it had a pool and hot tub. As soon as we checked in, we put on our swim suits and swam. The kids loved jumping into the hot tub and then jumping into the pool. It was a great energy release.

The next day, after the yummy waffles, we got back into the car and headed south to Custer State Park. We were driving along and saw a family of four buffalo out in the distance. I thought..I hope that is not going to be the highlight of our animal viewing experience. We stopped at a visitor's center to make sure we were on the right track. The ranger said we were on the right road and that soon we would be in the beggin' burros area. He assured us we would understand what he meant as soon as we saw them. We were intrigued and continued on our way. We found the burros..They soon became our favorite part of the park. The kids got to feed them carrots and crackers. They were hilarious. If you took to long to get out of your parked car, they would stick their heads in the car. If you took to long to get the crackers out of the bag, they would bud into you (I get budded three times). I took the burro eye picture while sitting in the driver's seat...I wanted you to be able to see just how close they would get. While feeding the burros, the kids kept telling me how bad they wanted a burro for Christmas...and how they wanted to drop a trail of crackers behind our car so the burros could follow us home. This plan did not work. As we continued on our way we did get to see huge amounts of bison, prairie dogs, and prong horn deer. The landscape was incredible. We continued driving around and the kids kept beggin' to go back to the burros. So I turned the car around and went back to see the burros on our way to Mt. Rushmore. The drive between Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore is beautiful. The highway winds through the black hills and there are cool stone tunnels to drive through. Every now and then we got a peek of Mount Rushmore in the distance. We took the audio tour and walked around the presidential trail. We learned about how the artist chose this spot (because of how the sun hit the mountain) and we learned about how they made the monument. We also got to learn a little about each president. For example, we learned that one of the biggest things that George Washington did for our country was actually something he didn't do...that was become a King or Emperor of our land. I would highly recommend taking the audio tour. Along the path we got to see Mt. Rushmore from different angles. We also got to see the artist studio and the different tools they used to make the monument. I am so glad that I got to finally go and see this place and share it with my kiddos.

The next morning it was time to get ready to come home. After eating another breakfast of yummy waffles, we swam one last time. Before leaving Rapid City, we stopped at Old MacDonald's petting farm. This was the cleanest petting farm I have EVER seen. There were plenty of staff cleaning up after the animals which was really nice. We got to feed the goats-who soon joined the ranks of the burros as one of our favorite animals. We also fed the fish, pigs and sheep. Emily got to ride on Bright Eyes the pony and Andrew got to ride on Chief. We also watched a pig race..which was funny and fast.

To break up the drive home we stopped at the 1880's village that is conveniently located right along Interstate 90. The kiddos rented western costumes and we explored the town. We saw the hotel, the black smith, the saloon, the church, the jail, rang the fire house bell and even saw the gallows. Of course, the boys loved the guns and boots. Emily looked cute in her dress and feather headband. In the Hotel was a family of kitties which we really enjoyed playing with and, yes, I was asked about 100 times.. "Can we keep one?"
*I will be honest and admit that I would have been really tempted to bring one home if there was a "free" sign out for them. Luckily there was no sign. Marlin our cat would not have been pleased.
We went to the music/comedy show in the saloon. Ryan got invited onto stage to help play one of the instruments. Every time the guy with the long beard said "now" Ryan was supposed to honk the horn. Then the little girl would ring the cow bell and another boy would hit the drum. The beard guy said now about a million times before the song started...and of course Ry honked the horn each time. Andrew thought that it was so funny and giggled away during the whole thing. Ryan really looked like he had fun up on the stage and tapped his toe through the entire song.

We listen to Harry Potter CDs the entire way home which made the car ride go fast. We are on book 3.
It was so cool to do something new with the kiddos...something that I was experiencing for the first time too. We are ready for our next adventure...where ever it may be : )


Julie W said...

Brave woman to take a trip with the kids and no Erik. We visited Mt Rushmore on our way to MN a few years ago. I want to do it again. I would recommend staying for the nightly lighting program. We didn't get to do the hike or Custer State Park. We went to storybookland in Rapid City. We stayed at a KOA "resort" not far from Mt Rushmore that I would also recommend if you ever go again. We had fun at Wall Drug too. Lot's of funny and silly photo ops in the "backyard."

Jean said...

Cathy, you are the BEST MOM. You are so brave to do a road trip without your hubby. I love the photos, especially the one of the kiddos with the MT behind them. They also looked pretty good in their western duds. Have a good semester.

Lauren said...

I LOVE this post! I have some great pictures of my cousins (Montana cousins) and I in front of Mt. Rushmore... also the burrito picture of Andrew is classic :) miss you guys!