Friday Favorites-- Vacation Week

We had a wonderful week on vacation exploring Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa!  Well, truthfully as you read this we have yet to get to reach our destination in Nebraska and Iowa but should be on our way.  I'll wrap up those days with next week's favorites and promise to have lots and lots more vacation posts coming soon!


Saturday we woke around 4:30/5:00 to head out on vacation.  We had an early morning flight direct to Denver, Colorado.  Our flight wasn't full so all 6 of us got to sit together!  That rarely happens with Southwest airlines where there is no assigned seating.  After a little snafu (and an extremely long wait time) for our rental car we headed north out of Colorado and spent the night in Cheyenne Wyoming.  We marveled at the snow on the mountains, the wide flat open plains, the oil derricks, and all the animals on the side of the road.




After a nice breakfast at our hotel Sunday morning, we headed north through Wyoming and into South Dakota.  We saw lots more of the plains and even spotted pronghorn, buffalo, and prairie dogs. Once in South Dakota we stopped at the Mammoth Dig Site and Evan's Plunge (a mineral hot springs).  Then we continued on to the house we rented for the week and ended our day with dinner and grocery shopping.





With a two hour time difference working in our favor we were up bright and early on Monday morning and we were eager to explore.  After a bit of debate (and breakfast) we headed out to Custer State park to drive the wildlife loop trail.  We also ended up driving through Needles Highway before heading over to Mount Rushmore (which was sadly under construction!- thankfully the monument was still visible even if most of the grounds were closed).  We tried some of President Jefferson's vanilla ice cream recipe and then headed out to tour a gold mine and pan for some gold and gems.  By that time we were all starving and headed back to the house where Alec, my husband, and my mother in law made dinner for us all.



The needles



The road is filled with hairpin turns and switchbacks!
 






Having covered so much in one day we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do on Tuesday.  We had planned so many hiking trips for our vacation but temperatures had been holding steady in the low 90's/ upper 80's and so we had to change up our plans.  We finally settled on renting kayaks and kayaking around Sheridan Lake.  I don't have any photos of that since I forgot my waterproof phone case at home.  After kayaking we headed to the Reptile Gardens and spent a few hours checking out the reptiles, beautiful gardens, watching the snake show, the bird show, and the alligator feedings.  We then went back to the house for a late lunch/early dinner combo.  My husband, mother in law, and myself decided to head out hiking around 4 since it was cooling off-- we managed to make it to the views but were completely soaked by the time we made it back to the car as a HUGE thunderstorm moved quickly into the area.







We had hoped to tour Jewel caves while we were in the area but found out that they were closed until May of 2020 due to a problem with their elevator system so we decided to head back toward Hot Springs and tour the Wind Caves instead... only they too were closed due to an elevator problem!  There are some struggles with vacationing in the off season! Since it was much cooler we spent Wednesday hiking.  We hiked the Sylvan lake & Sunday Gulch trails back at Custer State park.  It was not an easy hike by any means and took us just over 2 hours to complete.  The boys just loved climbing over all the rocks (and there were lots of them to climb over!).  After hiking we headed into Keystone and had some lunch, did some shopping, and enjoyed the quaint looking western town.  On our way back to the house we decided to stop and re-hike last night's trail all the way to the summit.  We read all the markers and discovered why it was called the Strattobowl rim trail; in 1934 -5 it was home to a stratospheric balloon launch site!











We decided to change up our plans slightly mid- week & check out of our house rental a day early.  Thursday found us heading out towards the Badlands and continuing on to our added stop in Mitchell, South Dakota for the night. Originally we had an 8 hour driving day planned for Friday and thought it would be better to break it up into two 4 hour days instead.  You can not drive to the Badlands without stopping at Wall Drug (a very popular roadside attraction in South Dakota); it was such a cute store.  Once arriving at the Badlands we drove straight to the visitor's center and watched a movie about the area.  We walked around the museum like set up inside and then headed out to drive the loop trail and take a couple quick hikes.  I just can't capture the sheer size!  It seemed to go on forever.  We piled in the car and drove over 3 hours to the hotel; the younger two elected to go swimming while Ian headed out shopping with his dad.










Comments

  1. Yay! What a wonderful vacation. Looks so fun.

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  2. What a fun post! We love the Black Hills area and enjoyed a family vacation there this summer too. Looks like you all are having such a fun and memorable trip!!

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  3. What an exciting adventure! So much of this great land I haven't yet seen.

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    1. It was an adventure for sure. I was so tired from all that travel though and so very glad to arrive back home.

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  4. We did just about this same trip! We started here in KC and went to Omaha first, then SD with stops at the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore and of course Wall Drugs, and then down through Cheyenne to Denver! Then we headed back to KS. It looks like you're having a great time, besides the closings for the off season!

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  5. Wow! You wrap up a lot in one post. I'm sorry that Mt. Rushmore was under construction when you were there. They had one trail closed when I was there. It's always a bummer when you go so far and something is closed. There were so many trails closed at Zion the week we were there due to rock fall, but we still managed to find trails to hike.

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    1. It was so hot that we didn't want to do much hiking anyway so while we were a tad disappointed we couldn't see more of Rushmore we did enjoy what was open and we did LOVE Custer state park so much.

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  6. WOW! What a wonderful trip. You are giving your children such wonderful experiences.
    Blessings, Dawn

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    1. Thank you! I sure do try... we're already talking about what we want to do on our "next" trip.

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  7. We just did this trip (well, most of it) a month ago! Loved it. I was disappointed too that much of Mount Rushmore was closed, but we still really enjoyed the tour and walking the trail. We spent a couple nights in Custer State park and loved that too. Driving through the Needles wasn't as fun, though; I'm afraid of heights and some of those roads were too tight for my liking. :)

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    1. I am not a fan of heights either and was so glad that my husband was driving (so I could close my eyes at needed!)… I had such a tight grip on the door handle; as if that helped!

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  8. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too!

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    1. Thanks so much for hosting, pinning, and sharing each week. I can't wait to come back and link up more of our vacation posts!

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