APRIL 11, 2012 Postcards To The Pacific–Day Two
6:30 a.m. in the morning. The alarm goes off. The kiddos all finally change out of the jammies that they wore for the last 36 hours. They won’t be able to wear those jammies again until we hit a laundry service. Our hotel comes with a free breakfast, so we all eat in. The Mommi packs up as she likes to keep things organized a certain way.
7:56. We finally exit our hotel room. Why does it take SO long to get everyone in the car???
7:59 Throw my hotel coffee out of the car window. “I’m sorry,” I say to The Hunni, “but I am not going to make it today without a REAL coffee.”
8:01 Pull into a parking space in front of a coffee house. The Hunni buys us a coffee while I take the kiddos down the block to The Corn Palace.
8:03 Turns out it is a good thing we didn’t leave until almost eight o’clock, as the Corn Palace is open. I remember my parents taking me to The Corn Palace when we were heading west one year. The Hunni and I also stopped by on our Honeymoon Drive west. This time we decided to go inside. Amazingly, it is free! Here is some info from The Corn Palace website.
“The Corn Palace serves as a multi-use center for the community and region. The facility hosts stage shows, as well as sports events in its arena. The World’s Only Corn Palace is an outstanding structure which stands as a tribute to the agricultural heritage of South Dakota.
The original Corn Palace, called “The Corn Belt Exposition” was established in 1892. Early settlers displayed the fruits of their harvest on the building exterior in order to prove the fertility of South Dakota soil. The third and present building was completed for it first festival at the present location in 1921.
The exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created each year. The theme is selected by the Corn Palace Festival Committee and murals are designed by a local artist.
Come and experience what the Corn Palace has to offer.”
The Corn Palace serves as a multipurpose community center-what a great idea!! Getting tourist dollars to flow into a community and using those tourist dollars to unite a community.
All the murals are made from corn. Here is a detail.
We stopped by the gift shop as I needed to buy postcards for the kids’ journals. Little Man found some Popcorn on the Cob and tried to eat it.
8: 32 We hit the road again. We have about a three hour drive (210 miles) to get to the Badlands.
8:57 Bible reading over, the journals come out. The spelling is horrible, but the comments are priceless.
Little Man plays with his cars and trucks.
10:11 Potty stop! The Hunni put in a jump rope so that the kiddos could get some exercise at our rest stops.
I tried to jump rope also, but I had to use one hand to hang onto my belt-less jeans and one hand to support the “succumbers to gravity.” Then about 8 jumps in, the bladder called out to me, “Pressure valve about to blow!”, so I visited the Ladies Room for the second time in five minutes and decided to just enjoy the scenery.
I love the w i d e open s p a c e s in South Dakota. I love the wind blowing through the grass lands. I love the emptiness. I love the golden color of the grasses. Some may find the scenery boring, but I find it wild and liberating.
11:30 My stomach growls. It has been a long time since breakfast. LBG (Little Big Guy) states that he is hungry. The other kiddos chorus the same song. I say, “About fifteen more minutes until we get to Cactus Flats. We will eat lunch at the gas station there.”
11:43 We pull off at Cactus Flats–looking forward to lunch, but everything is closed. Thankfully, the pumps are still opened if you pay with a credit card. I remembered the gophers from our stop six? years ago when I was pregnant with Eloise.
I think the gophers still have on their winter coat, as I remember them being a darker color. That and the fact that Cactus Flats (the name of the exit which is a gas station) are closed reminds us that it is still spring here–not tourist season yet.
Little Man loved running around trying to catch a gopher. It was so comical to watch because just as soon as he was out of range, the gophers would pop up again.
11:52 We enter the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site that is just beside the Cactus Flats gas Station and watch a movie about the Cold War.
12:07 Back into the car with no lunch option for another 1 – 2 hours except for the apples and Oreos I packed.
12:14 We enter Badlands National Park. I think this is the most underrated National Park in the U.S. We love this place!! for several reasons. One is it is just stark beauty! Two, they let you climb all over everything–perfect for kiddos. Three, less visited by tourists than most other National Parks. Four, gorgeous emptiness. Five, wildlife. If you have never visited Badlands National Park, I recommend that you STOP by.
There was no one else on the “trail” other than two German tourists. I was just ahead of them on the “trail” and was listening to them. I couldn’t understand a word, until they rounded the corner, then I heard, “AWESOME” followed by a pause, them more German. This is a small glimpse of what we all saw.
The kiddos love climbing all over these rock-clay structures. Although I would love to hear the kiddos talking about the geological origins of the formations or their natural beauty, but the reality is that immediately a War Game started with finger guns, imaginary enemies, and of course a victory. Even The Hunni joined in with the Hiding and Hunting.
LBG had disappeared around and over the structures before I even arrived. Occasionally, I could hear a finger gun going off, so I knew he had survived the first wave of attacks.
As the structures we more clay than rock, falling was “softer” so even Little Man could join in. At some pinnacle this conversation was overheard.
“The Hunni: I think I need to add to the erosion. Scout: That’s disgusting Daddi, go find someplace private. Don’t you know that I am a FEMALE!”
We saw some sheep? I think it is a baby Big Horned Sheep.
Comment overheard while driving through the park.
“The Hunni: You don’t get the same sense of openness in an airplane.”
“Eloise: There’s a cave over there that’s big enough for human beings–except for Mommies and Daddies.”
Now for this Whit’s End Family, no trip to the Badlands is complete without the following photo.
The last time we did this we could see for miles in either direction. We saw a car approaching from a distance–no worry as it was a loooooong way away. The next time we looked the car seemed quite a bit closer. As we watched, we realized that the car was covering distance rather quickly. “I wonder how fast he is traveling,” wondered The Hunni. We decided to clear the road and get into our purple mini van. We soon were passed by a beat up car going probably over 90 m.p.h. And behind him came, one, two, three, four, five, six. . .police cars all spaced out. We were witnessing a high speed chase. The Hunni looked at me and said, “I can’t imagine that there are any more cops in this area.” and then proceeded to drive accordingly. That story happened over six years ago on SD Route 44. This time we took SD Route 240. I recommend both.
1:58 We finally found an Arby’s at exit 60. We had eaten four apples and an entire package of Oreos. We ordered and as we were driving away, The Hunni sang me this song. (Tune of The Farmer in the Dell.)
Arby’s curly, greasy fries.
They add to your thighs.
Heigh-ho the Dairy-O
I now am Super-Size.
I ignored him and enjoyed my fries and sandwich.
2:38 Arrived at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. On previous visits during peak season, we had to park a long ways away. This time we were able to park on the top level. As we walked in, we saw the National Guard practicing emergency procedures. “How SAD,” I thought, “They have to practice for a terrorist attack here, too.”
Quick! Which are the four presidents engraved in Mt. Rushmore? Don’t peek! Think before you scroll down.
Did you guess?
Okay, you probably got them right. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. But which Roosevelt is it? Franklin or Theodore or Alvin or Simon? Enter your answer in the comments section for a prize.
We visited Mt. Rushmore on our Honeymoon Drive out West. Who knew what the 13 years and four kiddos would bring.
We enjoyed looking at the presidents, and ?future? president?
And then it was time to say good-bye. But before I left, I didn’t miss my opportunity to kiss a president.
4:10 We climbed in the car again, but something just didn’t feel right. Something was missing. We realized that it was ice-cream, so before heading out of Rapid City we all got iced coffees. Rapid City has a President’s Walk where all the presidents are in statue on street corners. We never have done The President’s Walk, but it looks fun. We saw several as we drove, parked, and walked to the Coffee Shop.
4:28 Feeling more complete, we climbed in the car again. Once the frappes were finished, the Mommi decreed that it was Journal Writing time again.
Eloise adds much tape! Overheard while enroute.
“Eloise: Daddy, your hair is plugged into your neck!”
We had planned on making it to Cody, Wyoming, but we were running about 2 1/2 hours behind schedule, so we decided to instead drive to Sheridan, Wyoming.
5:48 The frozen coffee drinks hit the spot, but now they are banging on the bladder door begging to be let out. Restrooms are rare and far between in Wyoming, so we opted for a more scenic potty stop.
You know you are in the West when the exit has cattle guards on the off ramp. After releasing the persistently knocking coffee, the kiddos ran off some energy.
Little Man liked the cattle guards.
He wanted to walk across them, but was scared. I joined him and looked down and screamed.
There were two dead baby lambs at the bottom of the cattle guard. Surprisingly, they didn’t stink! As we were walking around some more, we came across a skeleton. We guessed that it was an adult sheep, but we didn’t find the skull.
We had passed a Killdeer (bird) on the exit ramp who had flown off faking a broken wing, so I knew she had a nest nearby. Killdeer build nests in open rocky places that are so disguised they are almost impossible to see. Click here to see a Killdeer nest on a drive way.
So the kiddos ran to the on ramp to see if they could find the nest.
But they got distracted and just goofed off. I looked in the gravel, but couldn’t find her nest. (I am not sure why LBG had his shirt off. I actually didn’t notice until I looked at the photos.)
It was wonderful to stretch our legs. It was wonderful to be in the west. It was wonderful to be out of the car. It was wonderful, but we had several more hours of driving, so we called for the kiddos to get back in the van. They ignored us (I don’t blame them.) So we called again–no one came. Finally, The Daddi started pulling away slowly. . .
. . .in came the kiddos!
Just after 9:00. We arrived in Sheridan. We knew that nothing would be opened, so we ordered pizza to the room. Kiddos bathed while we waited for the pizza to arrive.
10:30 And all the kiddos are in bed.
11:00 The Hunni and I crawl into bed. “What time do we need to set the alarm?” asks The Hunni. “Well, we are about 2 hours behind, so we really need to get up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning to get back on track.” “UGH!” we both moan, and roll over and go to sleep.
Miles: apx. 670
Trip Time: 14 hours
Meal Times: 6:45 a.m. in the morning, 2:30 p.m. , 9:30 p.m.
P.S. Don’t forget to guess which Roosevelt is engraved in Mt. Rushmore–Alvin, Simon, Theodore, or Franklin. Guessing automaticatly enters your name for a Give-Away.