Friday, January 1, 2010

Day Nine. South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa

Day Nine Wyoming, South Dakota,Nebraska, Iowa

We woke up refreshed and ready to go. Today was going to be a big day and we were very exciting. Our plans for the day were to see Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower and the Badlands. We were only about an hour from Mt Rushmore so we saw that first! It is just simply amazing.

However; here is a funny story:

I research and call before we go to make sure the weather/roads are good to go and they are. I see that the park is free to enjoy! (Score!) I neglect to see that you do however; have to pay $10 to park your car. No biggie you think except when we go to enter the park we have no cash – again another no biggie- except for such a well known and highly visited national monument they don’t take credit or debit cards to pay for the parking! Even airports have the option to pay with credit card for parking! The lady agrees to let us in and makes us park the farthest away (outside the parking garage deck) and to go into the gift shop to access the ATM and then swing on by and pay. Which we did and come to find out that parking pass is good for a year – who’s going back after we have already seen it? I don’t think they are going to be putting any new presidents up anytime soon since the whole thing took over 13 years to carve!

Ian walks up and is amazed – he keeps saying look at those big heads! And as we walked closer, the heads kept getting bigger. He really enjoyed the binoculars that were kid size and just the perfect size for him to get a better look at the ‘Big Heads.’

We took a ton of pictures! And then off we went. The next major thing we wanted to see was Devil’s Tower. It was off the road quite a bit but we were sure that we could see it while we were driving – which was the case. I was all excited, because I loved the movie The Close Encounter! I saw it, grabbed my camera, focused and had a perfect shot but then we were going around a bend in the road so I had to wait – got it focus again and clicked so very excited I got the shot – hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Jeff especially liked driving through and seeing the Badlands. This is where his favorite president, Roosevelt, initially kicked some butt. It was covered in snow, but still pretty neat to see.

South Dakota is very boring, and flat. Really not much to see. I joked with my friend Kaisa about living out here. I texted her as we were passing her hometown. I even asked her about the World Famous Tractor Museum that we kept seeing signs for. Even a native born and raised didn’t know what on earth I was talking about. Must not be that World Famous then! Haha.
Since SD is so flat and the rest stops are few and far between we thought we found a bigger stop that had food and gas. Well, come to find out it was just a gas station with no food available for 45 miles. At this point the kids are starving and crying for food. As a good mother what did I do? Let them loose and said pick what ever you want to eat for lunch . (At this critical point I was about to have a melt down. The kids rarely get candy and or chips, so this was an exception to make everyone stay happy at this particular point in the trip!) So there lunch was doughnuts, chips and water! Oh so healthy I know – you would have done the same thing!! Haha.

We also passed the hometown of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I grew up on Little House on the Prairie, and Jeff was so lucky we were traveling with the boys because if it was just us two we totally were stopping there and taking a tour and taking tons of pictures…instead we just drove by the exit and I just wondered what it was like to see!

Another funny thing we saw (I think it was in SD) were all these signs for the McNasty Brothers. It was a two person band what looked to be at a jazz joint. That would have been interesting to see if we were kid free.

We ended up in Souix City, Iowa. We just briefly entered Nebraska for a mile and then back into Iowa – but we are counting it as a state!

Next stop: ST Louis!

Miles Traveled:
Lost count… I think we are up to 4000 at this point.
Animals seen:
Birds, horses, cows.

Day 8. Rest of Montana, Wyoming.

Day Eight. Rest of Montana, Wyoming

Montana is a friggin' huge state. Over 600 exits! I thought we would never make it to Wyoming. There were some interesting things in Montana that we noticed. Signs for a Testicle Festival! See the picture for proof.

You make have to click this to get it larger!

We can only wonder what in the world they do at this interesting gathering! Im sure this is a normal thing with a funny name but I can’t imagine anything that isn’t disgusting or terrifying. Also there was a town called Smeltyville which coincidently smelt like onions when we drove by it on the ole' famous I-90 East. Last but not least we passed an exit for Crazy Woman Creek (or something along that lines, can’t really remember) but Jeff said he would gladly drop me off here. After 8 days of close quarters and traveling over 1500 miles together, you can only love that person so much!! Haha.

I really wish I kept up with typing along the way because I would have remembered all the funny stories that happened, but we were so crunched for time or tired or the kids were going wild that I didn’t have time to sit and type every day at the end of the day at the hotel room. I am kicking myself for not doing this.

This was a bad day for the kids. I shouldn’t say bad because they are terrific travelers. We had to stop quite a few times to pee and have lunch early because we ran out of snacks in the car. Our friend Scott that was traveling with us decided to go ahead and not stop because he was feeling good and drive on down to Gillette, WY and find us a nice hotel for the night. After lunch the boys took a long nap and we were able to cruise right on to Gillette. Scott found us a nice and inexpensive hotel for the night. It was a Fairfield Inn (a branch of Marriott). It had everything we needed, a laundry room, King Bed with a Queen pullout sofa in the other room, 2 TVS (this meant we could watch the news and not cartoons!) FREE breakfast in the morning (all the hotels we stayed in provided continental breakfast..the only way to go!) and last but not least a WATERPARK inside the hotel! We actually checked in around 7ish and Jeff went to Applebee’s to get curb side to go (finally a decent place to get a salad!) and I took the boys over to the water park. Ian loved it he was fearless ready to jump in the three foot deep lazy river. I opted to stay on the baby side which was only 1 foot deep. The only problem is Blake HATES showers, and there was water squirting everywhere, and dripping everywhere…very shower like. He hated the water park. He kept telling me to go home. (The boys now refer to home as whatever hotel room we were staying in at the time!)
All the showerlike items in the baby area!

After pool time was over it was time to do some wash…. I went to grab my wallet and grab some quarters….wait where was my wallet it was nowhere to be found! I left it in Missoula, MT!! In the hotel room!! CRAP! I called there and they said I had to wait until morning to talk to the head housekeeper lady that was in charge of all lost and found. I set my alarm, called & verified my wallet and belongings were still in there as well as Jeff’s workout shorts – and they said they would mail it to Alabama for me! Thank goodness. Four loads of laundry and a bedtime of 1145 – we were exhausted. Next stop Iowa!

Miles Traveled:
To many to count! Just A LOT
Animals seen:
Horses, Buffalo, Cows, birds.

Day 7. Washington, Idaho & Montana

Day 7. Washington, Idaho & Montana

We finally got off that god forsaken vessel. Driving off was fine – just waited our turn and off we went. The only bad thing is – the itinerary kept saying we were going to arrive at port at 8am. There was a confusion that the purser behind the desk (read: who didn’t speak much English) was trying to tell us the time we were getting in and we really couldn’t understand because the boat ran on AK time except when in Bellingham….so arrival time, in AK time or WA time? Long story short, we arrived at 1030 – 2.5 hours behind schedule.

Washington sure does have a variety of terrain. One minute there would be snowy mountains and curvy roads, then the next looked like a dessert with shrubs and a dusting of snow.
When we stopped for lunch, we were looking for a BBQ joint, but it turned out to be a gas station BBQ and we opted to skip that because we were trying to limit our bathroom breaks! We found a truck stop/family restaurant that suited just fine. When we pulled in we looked over both of our cars. Scott noticed that he had a metal spike sticking out of his newly bought Blissex Tires! So after we stuffed ourselves full of fatty foods Jeff and Scott changed the tire (read: with NASCAR like quickness) while the boys ran in a grass pasture collecting pine cones and doing who knows what with them. They had fun – and it pooped them out – they slept for a good portion of the trip!

We then drove into Idaho. (entering the state horrible, horrid windey roads !) Nothing much to see, then exiting the state same thing….scary roads. (per Kristin).

We tried to get every state sign that we drove through. But I couldn't get the correct camera functions to take here is Idaho

Montana was snowy on and off. We forgot about the time change, so finally we got checked into the hotel in Missoula at 10pm. All the kids wanted to do was run around the hotel, so when we sat down to eat we had to get it to go – which was fine with us. And our dinner was so awesome. ( I had put scrumptious but Jeff is making fun of me, so I changed it just for him. Haha)


View outside our hotel room in Missoula, MT.