Tuesday, June 21, 2011

46 Hours of Driving, 8 States, 4 National Parks, 2 Adults, 2 Future American Park Rangers

Our Route (click to enlarge)
We've been planning this vacation for about six months and it has finally come....and gone.  We had a blast touring this great country.  As you can see in the map above, we started in IL and drove across IA for a lunch break.  We spent our first night in the Badlands of South Dakota.  The sun was just setting and the view of the plateaus and mountains was just breathtaking.  The best part of the trip was seeing the faces of my son and the hubster's god-daughter light up as they discovered something new.  I also enjoy hearing their questions and being able to answer them.

Just finished eating smores!
Tired after 13 hours of driving...or riding, LOL!
I was also amazed that I had taken this trip (the SD portion) 18 years prior as a school field trip.  We came all the way from Kansas City to view the same sites that I was going through with my family; that really made me feel good.  SD, surprisingly, has a lot to offer.  We toured the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park,Wall DrugCrazy Horse, and the famous Jewel Cave.  The caves were the kids favorite part of the entire trip! 

Bison playfully fighting

After our SD adventures, it was time to head even further west across Wyoming.  We finally ended up right on the border of WY and Montana where we could spend some time trekking through Yellowstone National Park.  Anybody remember Yogi Bear or Smokey the Bear???  

We saw plenty of bison, elk, and deer.  We had our eyes peeled for those bears, but didn't see not a one.  Bummer!  I guess that means, we'll have to go back soon.  Did you know that Yellowstone is pretty much a big volcano??!??!?  They have about 2,500 earthquakes there a year, but most of them are too small to actually feel.  This is how we got Old Faithful; I never knew that!  Talk about anticipation as we waited for Old Faithful to erupt with water as the magma heated up underground.

Yellowstone pretty much ended the camping portion of our trip, and from then it was just heading back home.  We stopped in Bismarck, ND, just to sleep, and then we made a stop at the Mall of America (MOA).  MOA wasn't much, in my opinion, but the kids had a wonderful time at Nickelodeon Universe in the mall.  I think this was their favorite part of the trip, but it won't be what they remember 18 years from now when they're my age.  

Just sworn in as Junior Rangers of Mt. Rushmore

On this trip, the kids became Junior Rangers at three National Parks!  Let me tell you, they take it very seriously.  They chastised me for throwing out an apple core in the park.  What happens in Yellowstone, stays in Yellowstone.  I felt horrible, but more on that tomorrow!

Anywho...we had a blast, and I would do it again if the opportunity arose.  All I could think about each time we saw something breathtakingly beautiful was: "Wow, I serve a very creative God!  He did all of this for my amazement"  You know how when you have a little baby or toddler and you make your voice high pitched, and talk silly, and make ridiculous faces???  Well, God's creations are like that, but on a much larger scale!  He did this for our enjoyment!
Crazy Horse
What do you do when bison are in your way?
Grand Canyon at Yellowstone National Park
What are your family vacation plans this year?

1 comment:

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