I wanted snow, and then I got snow, and now I’m tired of snow.
I’m ready for summer.
We’ve been planning our upcoming vacation, and reliving last year’s epic trip to Yellowstone and that really got me in the mood for summer.
We went 5,000 miles in twelve days with a pop up camper. It was crazy.
Here were some of the highlights.
These were en route to and around Kansas City. We endured a terrible storm with tornado warnings there. It hit at 11 pm, and we sat it out in a Wal-mart parking lot.
We saw the Truman Presidential Museum, and I got to see the exit leading to Mark Twain’s boyhood home, the setting for Tom Sawyer. Matt got to visit Kauffman Stadium. Too bad it was during the All-Star break.
We saw the original Pony Express headquarters and the house where Jesse James died. We went to the Corn Palace, and drove into Nebraska, even though it was out of the way, just to say we did.
We went through Badlands National Park, which I thought was the most awesome thing I had ever seen until…
we saw the Black Hills and then I decided that I wanted to move to South Dakota. I’m not kidding about that. I don’t think I’d like the winters, so I might just decide on a summer home there. But I would go. Tomorrow.
There are views like this…
Imagine how pretty it would look it I were taking photos with a real camera and not my iPhone!
We stayed at Custer State Park, just outside of Custer, SD. The campsites were large, and the weather during the day was perfect. (It dipped into the low 40’s at night. In July!)
While we were there we would go into town and shop here:
At Lynn’s Dakotamart, there was a nice teenager from Arkansas who asked Matt where was he from, honey, because she heard something familiar in his accent.
Turns out her mom had moved there several months ago and she had held out in Arkansas with her grandmother until her mom told her no more birthday presents unless she came to South Dakota too.
She became a great source of information, letting us in on the fact that “up here they sell ice (southern i) in five pound blocks, not cubes!” And “What do you do with a big block of ice?!” she wanted to know. (We didn’t know, we were looking for cubes). She also told us that “these people are complaining because it is so hot, and it is only 70 degrees!” She said she was “freezing her hind end off!” (We were too).
We took a few smaller trips from Custer. One was to Wind Cave National Park. Let me tell you — if you don’t like small places DO NOT GO INTO THE CAVE. I have been in many different caverns and enjoyed them very much, but I have seen nothing like this.
It’s the third largest cave in the US, after Mammoth Cave and Jewel Cave (which strangely is in a neighboring county). You go down about 160 steps and some of the spaces are so tight you have to turn sideways to fit through. I literally watched my feet instead of looking around because I was so claustrophobic. And I couldn’t go back and get out because there was no room to go two wide to pass the people behind me. Oh, panic. All the way through. I’ve never been so happy to see daylight.
We visited Mt. Rushmore where we had a picnic in the adjacent National Forest. (We had a lot of picnics. We all swore off peanut butter & jelly for many, many weeks after this trip.)
We saw the Crazy Horse Memorial. Hard to imagine how big it is unless you see it in person.
We got to go to the Circle B Ranch Chuckwagon for a good meal and fun on the ranch. That was awesome. Great hospitality, and they throw biscuits to you if you want seconds!
We were excited while we stayed at Custer, because they have herds of bison and we had never seen one. After hours of driving around looking for them, we finally spotted ONE.
We took approximately 479 photos of it and two videos.
It turned out so good, I wanted one too. But Matt had other plans.
I tried again, but he slowed down on purpose. I got a picture of me and a bison butt.
And then he did it again.
Finally! That was one hard-earned buffalo selfie.
hundreds of buffalo on both sides of the road.
Nobody else had to work for a buffalo selfie.
We went further west across Wyoming… and the camper came smack off the hitch in Douglas. Lucky for us, it happened in one of the only three populated areas we passed through across THE ENTIRE STATE. There are no people in Wyoming, y’all. A nice highway department worker sat with our camper while we found an auto parts store and got what we needed for repairs. We ate some more PB&J while Matt worked on the hitch and then we took off again for the Grand Tetons.
Somewhere in Wyoming, we saw the legendary jackalope. Dylan is still feeling sorry for me because I didn’t know it was really real. Eventually we made it across the Continental Divide at the Togwotee Pass and saw them…
Anywhere you look, it’s a postcard. At the Grand Tetons, there are side-by-side lakes: Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake. That has to be some sort of sign. We passed through Jackson Hole, and saw the Snake River. We looked everywhere, but did not get to see the elusive Moose.
We visited Yellowstone and needed a lot more time there. Postcard stuff all over the place, again.
On the trip back, we visited the Eisenhower Presidential Museum, the Lincoln Presidential Museum, and his tomb. We saw preparations for the big rodeo in Cheyenne where Lane Frost died and we saw bunches and bunches of windmills.
By the time we got home, we were tired. But it’s by far the best trip I’ve ever taken. Ever. Ever!
This was my favorite photo from the trip:
It’s a bad iPhone photo taken at dusk from a moving car, but I think it’s the best one of the whole bunch. I was looking to my right. To my left was the Grand Teton Range.
My favorite moment was this:
I still laugh out loud when I look at the pictures, and am immediately transported back there on that day when there was only one buffalo and I desperately needed proof that I had been there with him.
The trip wasn’t without its quibbles. When we were almost home, Wyatt wrote this note to Dylan. We did spend a lot of time in close quarters.
But they were laughing about it after just a few minutes, and that became a good memory too.
Here’s a recap:
More than 5,000 miles
Four National Parks
One State Park
Eight National Forests
One National Grassland
Six State Capitals
Three Presidential Libraries
Two National Monuments
Crazy Horse Memorial
St. Louis Arch
The Jesse James House
Pony Express Museum
And the world’s largest Jackalope!
This year, we’re heading to Maine and Nova Scotia and I can’t wait to see what happens on that trip.
Do they have moose there? Because I’d really like to get a moose selfie someday.
Summer, I’m looking at you. Hurry up and get here!
Where’d you go on your favorite vacation?