School has ended and what better way to celebrate than a road trip!!! We followed my brother Dave, his fiance Jonie and their three kids, Alexis, Trace and Parker to South Dakota. We met up with my other brother Mike, his wife Amy and their two kids, Charles and Roark and my parents.
It was SO MUCH FUN!!! I had no idea there was so much to do in such a little area. So, here's a recap of our trip. If you want more, I'll be scrapbooking about 350+ pictures... feel free to come on over...
Part of our group went to Jewel Cave. Since I am claustrophobic and hate heights, I chose to sit this adventure out. But, those that went, said it was very beautiful and worth the walk. (I guess there were a lot of stairs...)
We stayed at The Flintstones Campgound in Bedrock City. Of course we had to go into the Theme Park. I did have to "prep" the kids before the trip with some video rentals from Netflix. They did not know who or what the Flintstones were, but they do now...
Four Mile Old West Town. This was a very fun and yet strange little place. We thought it was just an old ghost town. Turns out, the owners recreated an old ghost town. The strange part was, they had a TON of old antiques flooding the place and yet none of the building seemed finished... and you got the feeling that everything was just going to rot away in front of your eyes. The cool part of this place was that, you could walk in and out of all the buildings (although for safety reasons we probably shouldn't have) and you could touch everything. Unlike a museum that shines a light on something and says "this is important, look at me", you could explore and use all your senses to find what was important to you at this place. Very cool, and yet, there were nails sticking out and broken glass all over that made the mama bear in me freak out a little.
South Dakota Air and Space Museum (not to be confused with the Aaron Space Museum which is where I thought Papa Echo was taking me to over the years...) Lots of big planes. What more could the kids/Papa Echo want?
The kids LOVED. THIS. PLACE.
I did not. (but it's not about me, so....)
But, how often do you get to pet a baby alligator/crocodile? (I guess I wasn't listening during the presentation because I still can't tell the difference between the two.)
The thing I didn't like about this place? The snakes. Yuck/shiver/yuckie/ewwwww. Blech.
Cosmos Mystery Area
The kids were impressed with the optical illusions... Okay, okay, I was impressed also. I'm still trying to get Papa Echo to tell me how they did some of the tricks. And I'm not believing the "mystical forces" reason that our Cosmos guide gave.
Mt. Rushmore. of course....
While in Keystone (an old gold mining town) the kids went down the Alpine Slide. This was a big moment for me because I let the kids go up the chairlift by themselves and then down the slide without me or Papa Echo hovering. Eeeek!! My little babies are growing up!
The Berlin Wall Exhibit.
What a great teaching moment!! I figured that the kids would be learning about the cold war and the Berlin Wall in school. NOPE. So, we had many discussions trying to explain why the wall went up and eventually why it came down.
Very, very cool!! We went on a self-guided tour around the forest. LOVED it!!
We couldn't go into a gold mining district without stopping by a mine. Luckily for us The Homestake Mine was nearby. We went there and then tried a little gold panning for ourselves. All three kids panned with Papa Echo and, yes, there is still gold in them thar' hills.
As if we hadn't scared the kids enough with the Berlin Wall Exhibit, we decided to take them to one of the Minuteman Missile Silo Control Centers. We made it to one of the underground tours and saw how our military lived (and still live at active sites) and what they would have to do to "engage" one of the missiles. I was so glad we took the kids to this. A family behind us had a teenage daughter that while waiting for our turn to go in, whined, "but why do I have to see this? It's sooooo boring.... Why can't we see something important like civil war sites and revolutionary war stuff....?" Hopefully my kids won't ever say that, or I'll become a crochety old lady, saying, "back when I was a kid, we had bomb shelters and we would practice what to do if......."
It's good for us to see what a very "silent" part of our military has to deal with so there is peace for the rest of us.
We drove through The Badlands of South Dakota. (Very pretty and not so bad if you ask me....)
Of course after the Badlands we had to stop at Wall Drug, home of the "free ice water". I'm all for stopping for something free. :) And along with free ice water comes a photo op with a jack-a-lope of course.
At the first of the trip, we stayed in cabins and a big 'ol tent. By the end, the "fun" of camping had worn off me and we stayed in hotels that had a swimming pool (and a hot tub).
Our last "hurrah" of the trip was going to be Devil's Tower in Northern Wyoming. It was very, very cold when we drove past and looked like it might rain. So, we took a picture and figured we would hike around it next time.
It was still mesmerizing even from a distance.
And that's about it for the trip. A good time was had by all!!