Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Road Trip to Start Summer---

We started out summer vacation with an All-American Road Trip!  We headed west and met up with my parents who were on their way back from Yellowstone National Park.  

First official stop was Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota.  This place is old, established in 1931, and it's like a step back in time!  It's wild, a maze of little shops, random statues and signs, a chapel, and a cafe.  The kids loved it.  I was glad to see it once.  

Audrey with a 'fancy lady.'

The Husband and Audrey posing with a stuffed buffalo.  

The girls thought this Jackalope (jack rabbit/antelope) was hilarious!

When at Wall Drug, one must take advantage of the FREE ICE WATER, that they have prided themselves on since the birth of the store.  And we all agreed, their donuts were pretty fantastic, too!

Next stop was Storybook Island in Rapid City.  Perfect timing on this stop, the kids were ready for a break from being in the car.  Storybook Island is a big park, filled with characters from movies, nursery rhymes, and TV shows.  This stop was definitely worth it!

A great reminder, thoughtfully placed in the park.

When in South Dakota, you have to pan for gold!  

We got a panning lesson from Rattlesnake Randy, then we got to work.

It was serious business.  Everyone was successful at panning, and each child took home their own gold flecks in a bottle.  

Along the road, there are many spots to pull off and admire your surroundings.  Here was a perfect spot to get a profile shot of Mount Rushmore.

We finally make it to our destination, Custer, South Dakota, where we met up with Mimi and Grandpa Bob.  We opted to stay at an old-fashioned motel, called The Rocket Motel (rated #1 on TripAdvisor!).  I wanted the kids to experience something other than a chain hotel.  It was so fun (and extremely clean)! 

We spent many hours driving through Custer State Park!

This matriarch buffalo stood guard as the entire herd crossed between the cars.  

We went in early June, perfect time to see baby buffalo. 

Look at how cute this bitty deer is with her mama.

The prairie dogs were so fun to watch!

There was so much beauty to take in.

Mount Rushmore was impressive.  The kids with what they titled "The Presidents."

I think this may be one of those photos the kids look back on and laugh.  Look at the absolute joy on Nora's face!!!

We spend an afternoon at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park.  Sylvan Lake is considered the "Crown Jewel" of Custer, sitting at the base of Harney Peak, the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains.  

We hiked the trail around the lake and ran into this cavern.

The kids with one of the many buffalo in downtown Custer.


We rode the 1880s Train from Hill City to Keystone.  It was cool to be on a real steam engine, going through the rugged terrain of the Black Hills!!

The 2 hour ride got a little long for Nora---

What a fun vacation.  We were sad to have it end, and not too excited to make the long drive back through South Dakota...

There is something about driving through South Dakota that makes you feel miniscule....you can see for miles in all directions.

We broke up the drive by making a stop in Minneapolis to see Auntie, Grant, and Annie.  Thanks for the great company and delicious cookies!!