Monday, May 12, 2014

Mt Rushmore Road Trip: Day 1

The kids had Thursday and Friday off of school for testing during the first week of May. I scheduled all their tests Thursday because Scott and I planned a long-weekend road trip to Mt Rushmore, a place Scott and I put on our 'places to visit' list once we moved to Colorado. I snapped a picture of our April calendar. I keep this dry erase board in my kitchen and it's very useful and keeps me from forgetting important things that really shouldn't be forgotten, like our road trip :).

We packed up the van Thursday night, went to bed around 1030 and Friday morning Scott and I got up at 430 (we normally get up at 5 so it wasn't a big deal and I actually got up at 430 without an alarm...the key is going to bed a little earlier; and how do you fall asleep early? You wake up really early, several days I a row which will make you tired :)), we got ready, packed last minute toiletries etc, got the kids up, took them each to the bathroom and got them in the van and we were off a little before 530am.

 We have gone on SO many long road trips now with the kids(previously lived in UT for many years and every summer drove 14 hours to WA; plus we always visited National Parks each summer that were within 6 hours) that I think we've got things down to a pretty good system from best times to travel (early, early morning b/c kids are quiet that early, no traffic leaving big cities, and parents are alert because they've just woken up), to foods to bring(apples are great travelers! As are nuts and seeds and they don't make you feel like trash; and waterbottles for everyone), to how to hand out foods (we do disposable cups labeled with their first initial), to entertainment(we have several people that get car sick easy so audio books are a life saver. and the young girls like their portable dvd player).


All the kids have camelback water bottles which have less messy spills, though I still prefer my Nalgene with the splash guard piece on top. I don't like water bottles with straws because I can't get my water out as fast as I'd like.

 Scott was our driver and he did a mighty fine job!

 The food we packed: the peanut butter pretzels were a huge hit with the kids, as were the apples and fig and clif bars. I brought a protein shake for each day for myself since I knew we'd be eating out a lot and this way I could have one meal a day be a little less heavy than the others.

The drive to Mt Rushmore is about 5 ½ hours. We stayed in Rapid City which is about 30 minutes north of Rushmore. There is so much to see in the Black Hills area of South Dakota and we picked a few that were seemed most appealing to our family and did those. Our first stop was at the Mammoth Site of the city Hot Springs. I had checked the website prior to make sure they were open since we were traveling during the off-season time and I found out they were open and doing tours but what I didn't find out until we got there was that they only do their excavation or fossil digs during a couple of summer months, which was the only reason why we wanted to go there in the first place; so we didn't stay long. We didn't do the tour (wanted to save money for other sites) but just looked around the front lobby for a bit, read some interesting facts, took a picture with the mammoth skeleton they had on display, used their restrooms and took off for Custer.

 We saw quite a few buffalo just hanging out on the side of the road which was fun. We saw a sign that said something like, "buffalo are dangerous" so the kids were not happy when we stopped to take this picture, but in my defense I stayed in the van and we stayed on the

Once in Custer we ate lunch at Black Hills Burger and Bun which had a yummy veggie burger!
Scott mapping out our next stop

 Then went to the Jewel Cave where we did the scenic tour which was over an hour, and about a ½ mile loop. I loved this! If we could go back again I would visit more of the caves, like Rushmore cave and the Wind cave. The jewel cave was beautiful and mysterious, and we love going on walks and hikes so this was just right.

this picture was taken in the visitors center at Jewel Cave


After our cave tour we took the kids to get ice cream at the Purple Pie Place. The ice cream was Bluebell, so nothing really special though they had homemade pies that looked fabulous and quite a few locals came in to get a slice. I was tempted to get a slice of the peanut butter pie but they didn't have any ready and the kids aren't the most patient of customers so we took off for our hotel which was not quite an hour drive. Even though where we stayed is a bit farther out from some of the sites, I'm glad we choose to stay in Rapid City because one, food and things are cheaper since it's a bigger city, and two, there are lots more food options and actual grocery stores. There's not much around the historical sites, they are all very small town. And Mt Rushmore, like I mentioned earlier, was only 30 minutes out so it really wasn't too bad, and we planned to hit the farther ones on the way up to the hotel so it worked out nicely and have us a little break before we got to the hotel.

We always have to plan 'hotel time' on each of our trips because that is always our kids favorite part of any trip: swimming, vending machines, elevators, Disney Channel and movies on tv :). So that's what we did once we arrived; swimming first, showers and then they didn't even want to leave the hotel room to go out to eat so we just got pizza and greek salad from Marcos Pizza across the street and ate in.

This room had a King and a playpen in one room, then 2 queens and a sofa bed in the front room which was perfect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This looked like such a fun trip. I have been terrible at checking your blog!