Friday, October 23, 2015

Road Trip - Part 2

On the second day we headed out for Yellowstone. The goal was to get through to the west gate by the end of the day. It's a full day's drive to Yellowstone, plus another 1-2 hours to get to the far side, depending on how often you stopped.

The scenery out of Mt. Rushmore was amazing. I was driving so we don't have any scenic pictures. There aren't a lot of places to pull over and stop and by the time I realized a spot was coming up it was too late. Womp. Womp.

Maddie had been looking forward to driving in Wyoming and Montana because we had heard there were possibly no speed limits or that they were very high.

Well, there are speed limits but in this stretch of Wyoming it was 80mph. She thought that was kind of fun. Actually, we all enjoyed it. But driving 65 afterward was like crawling.

We went through a couple national forests along this route. The scenery was something we definitely aren't used to in Minnesota!

Maddie and Jake were our panoramic shot experts throughout this trip. They each got some interesting shots. So - though the pictures say I took these - I didn't. I was just too lazy to make a new digital stamp.

We did pull over to stop on the drive through the Black Hill National Forest. I saw and heard a river or stream down the hill and we decided to check it out. It was a bit of a climb down but as the rest of the trip proved, we were all more than ready to climb around and investigate!

It was quite a creek bed with tons of rocks to climb over and jump on!

We headed back up and continued our drive through to Yellowstone. It wasn't the sunniest of days and had been getting chilly when we would stop for sightseeing. This was our entrance to Yellowstone - accompanied by small hail:

We were greeted right away by the welcome committee:

We took some time driving through to the West Gate and did stop to pull over a few times. The scenery was really pretty - even on the dismal weather day this one had turned out to be.

Let me tell you - the west side of Yellowstone doesn't consist of much - and it doesn't stay open late. By the time we got to our hotel (in the furthest part of the town that didn't boast a ton of confidence) it was late and we barely found a place to eat. But we went to bed early because the next day was going to be all sight-seeing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

2015 Road Trip: Part 1

Hello again!

I'm just going to jump right in and ignore the fact that I haven't updated anything in ages.

At the end of summer we decided to head out on an 11 day road trip. The itinerary was going to take us through several National Parks up through Canada and back home.

I'll try to keep the talking limited and let the pictures say everything. FYI: That's really hard for me.

Our first main goal was to get to Mount Rushmore by the closing ceremonies on our first day of driving. We had a couple friends over for dinner before leaving and they told us we couldn't possibly go to Mt. Rushmore without passing through and seeing the Corn Palace. So we didn't.

The Corn Palace is decorated each year with soybeans. Kidding...corn. Duh. The art is really amazing. We walked around and after reading all the history we decided that while interesting, it definitely would have been much cooler to see the first buildings (in the 1800s) which were not brick with panels of decorations, but instead were made of a LOT of corn.

One thing you should know: I would desperately like to take a "Tacky Statue" tour. I've begged, threatened and constantly bombarded my family with suggestions of such a road trip all to no avail. So, on this trip I took every opportunity to get my/our pictures taken with tacky statues.

We really weren't here too long and were off to Wall Drug. Again...we heard this was a MUST stop. Not necessarily because there was anything amazing to see...but it's just one of those things everyone stops at.

Maddie had been told by a lady at church that she should definitely get her picture taken with a bear. Safety was really no concern - a bear MUST be found. We found one...mission accomplished on Day 1 - and everyone lived to tell the tale.

Tacky statue alert:

Then we really were on our way. I will say though - if ever passing through - there is some "Old West" town along the way. We would have loved to stay, but it would have cut our timing too close. And it was about $60 to get through for all of us, but it did look really cool.

We headed through the Badlands. It was 95 degrees here.

We did a lot of climbing and then we decided that we were done. Did I mention it was 95 degrees?

After awhile we all realized...things looked kind of the same. I guess that's downplaying the scenery. It was really neat. But, it also reminded me a lot of Arizona...except it wasn't necessarily as flat as the parts of Arizona I saw. But, the southwest just, overall, doesn't really float my boat in terms of scenery. Turns out no one else in our crew was excited to see more which was opposite of what a few others had told us before leaving. So, eventually we just stopped stopping and rolled on through.

I should note: before leaving Maddie BEGGED us to get a selfie stick. Mike had a work trip the week before we left and came home with a gift from a vendor: a selfie stick. We took more family photos in these 11 days than we have in three years.

Our first goal was accomplished and we made it to Mount Rushmore with enough time to walk around a bit before heading to the seats for the closing ceremonies that take place each night.

I love the first picture.

I may have gotten a little carried away with my zoom lens...

Really, what most impressed me about these carvings were the eyes. They are ridiculously detailed. Roosevelt's glasses too...really amazing.

The closing ceremony is very neat and gives a good history of the presidents represented and a brief history of the time this was built and America during each term.

At the end of the ceremony all veterans are invited to come down to the stage and take part in lowering the flag.

It was very neat seeing this sea of people head down to the stage. Mike was down among the crowd as well.

With that, we headed to dinner where we were trapped due to a massive rain/hail storm.

We recapped our day and knew we had to leave early the next morning to make our next hotel in time, but we think we would have opted to spend a longer day at Mt. Rushmore. We really didn't have any time to see any of the museums or read more of anything at Mt. Rushmore. But, we saw what we came for and had an excellent start to our trip.

Up next: Wyoming and Yellowstone!