One of my favorite things to do with my kids is to go on vacation. It almost does not matter where we go. We are going to have fun. We always bring home fantastic memories.
The photo to the left is my kids in Hot Springs, South Dakota. This trip was Kohl's idea for his birthday present this summer. He said: "I want to go to Mt. Rushmore for my Birthday."
On July 3rd,Thursday night after work, we left our home near Salt Lake City and drove all night.
We had ample room in our van for everyone's stuff, and everyone to have a seat. We brought food treats, and books on CD to listen to on the long journey. The books I brought to listen to I felt were ones that would grab our attention and keep our minds occupied to pass the time. Two of these books were ones that we all enjoyed.
Sierra and Kohler did fall asleep for awhile. Dylan managed to stay up with me most of the night. I always had at least one kid up with me.
At 5AM it was Sierra that rode by my side. That last hour of the journey Sierra's excitement was palpable. We were driving the back way through Custer State Park and we saw a herd of antelope. This was the first time that Sierra had ever seen antelope and it really was exciting.
When we drove around one corner suddenly off in the distance you could see it. Our goal was in-sight. To see Mt. Rushmore at sunrise was a treat.
With Dylan and Kohler still asleep Sierra and I left the car to explore. It was a cold morning. Walking around was invigorating. My mind was loopy from the long drive and being awake all night. Walking to the edge of the trees and viewing Mt. Rushmore on the other side of the valley was enough to clear my mind.
We drove up to the gate of the park an hour before the park opened so we drove a little further and parked. We ate some breakfast and had some time to take a few photos. Kohler and Sierra had a blast pretending that they were in the 2nd National Treasure movie.
Finally we were in the park and we could see the mountain in it's full glory.
We toured every inch of the park. Kohler was still certain that we could get to the parts of the mountain that he had seen in the National Treasure movie. He was dedicated to finding a path that would lead us to the top of the mountain. He was not satisfied that the back of the mountain was off limits until we found a fully uniformed park ranger and asked him.
Later that day we drove to our hotel. We took a nap and ate dinner. That night we played games outside until the sun went down and the Independence Day fireworks began.
We were tired. It took some energy from all of us NOT to be grouchy... We had shared some magical moments together and ultimately we grew closer.
The following day we drove to the other side of Custer State Park until we found a herd of bison. Kohl was NOT excited to be driving through the State Park to see bison. He didn't care about bison. He wanted to go swimming. We we finally saw the heard of bison he quickly changed his mind. They herd was nearly three hundred meters away. Even that far away these animals were impressive. They were massive. We were in their home and they WERE wild.
Kohler did finally get to go swimming. There was a hot-spring pool in the town we were staying at. The pool was gianormous and was constantly flowing with fresh warm spring water. There were waterslides and other things that occupied our time for 5 hours. After half a day swimming we were very worn out. and it was easy to talk the kids into going back to the hotel to watch a movie.
We spend the next day driving home. It was a tremendous weekend. Recently I was talking to the kids about going back to Washington for Thanksgiving. They asked if we would fly or drive. When I said that we would probably drive they became very excited. For some reason the road-trip is part of the adventure with these kids. I am so glad.
Maybe we will drive to South America someday!