Last Wednesday, Apr 23, I picked up my little brother from the airport. I rented a minivan, got my children and luggage, and hit the road. Our ultimate destination was Minnesota. We made a few stops in between.
We first stopped in Wyoming. We stayed overnight at my sister's house. She had some Domino's Pizza waiting for us. She was kind enough to get me a gluten pizza. The next morning, April 24, my children, my brother, my sister and my nephew got in the van and started heading further east.
It seemed like we drove for hours and hours without making much progress. When we reached the area that we had to really start deciding if we wanted to make the turn toward Mount Rushmore or keep heading toward our final destination, we decided to take the side trip up the mountain to Mount Rushmore. My brother was the only person in the vehicle that had ever been there. This was my first trip into South Dakota. As I drove the windy, mountain road up to the National Monument, I felt excitement that I was finally going to see it.
Upon entering Mount Rushmore, we are supposed to pay $11 to park. We waited for an attendant at the security gate, but no one came and the gate had been propped open. We figured that meant that we could just go in. The car that entered before us had come to the same conclusion. No one said anything to us so I am not sure if that is common but we did park.
When we entered the walkway at Mount Rushmore, we were greeted by wild mountain goats. My toddler announced, "It's bunnies." On the way out of the park, my six year-old suggested that we "take the llamas." In the photo below, the white things in the grass behind my daughter are the mountain goats, aka bunnies and llamas.
We proceeded into the National Monument area. It was absolutely majestic. I don't really know the history or how long it took to create Mount Rushmore, but it is something to behold. My sister took some pictures of my children and I in front of the Monument. I was thankful that she had a phone with a camera because I forgot my camera at home.
I am pretty sure that my toddler will not remember that trip. I am not sure if my six year-old will remember or not. I am quite sure that my two older children will remember going to Mount Rushmore. They added South Dakota to the states they have been to at the same time I did.
We continued on that evening and made it to Oacoma, South Dakota, where we found a hotel room. Although there were eight of us, I let the desk clerk know that we would share a room as long as there were two beds. The children could sleep on the floor, in an effort to save money. I was the only driver, because it was a rental vehicle and it would have cost $100 to add another driver for the time we were renting the vehicle. I didn't want to add that to the cost of our trip.
The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast. They offered a nice continental breakfast, which everyone enjoyed. I was able to eat the omelets. The hardest thing about being gluten free is trying to find things to eat when I am not the one cooking it. After eating, we all got in the vehicle to continue our journey to Minnesota. It was now Friday, April 25. My sister that lives in Minnesota would be getting married the next day.
I had bought lunch meat, cheese, crackers, carrots, peanut butter, rice cakes, and some treats for the trip. We stopped at a rest area and had some peanut butter sandwiches or peanut butter on rice cakes. At the rest area, there were some Thirteen Striped Ground Squirrels. My sister saw it first and was pointing it out to me, asking what it was. I told her it was some kind of lizard, it looked like the bearded dragon my brother once owned. From the angle I was at, it looked like it had scaly skin instead of fur. As it ran into its hole, the sun hit it at an angle where I could see that it was fur. My sister thought I was nuts to think it was a lizard of some sort, because she was at an angle where she could tell it was fur. We got a good laugh out of it, and she said she now knew why my kids thought the mountain goats were bunnies or llamas.
We arrived in Woodbury, Minnesota, at about 5 pm. My sister and her fiance were waiting at our hotel for us to get there. My parents, my brother and sister-in-law arrived about 1 1/2 hours later. We then went over to the Old Country Buffet. It was so wonderful to be together again! We were only missing my older brother (as far as siblings go), who arrived on Saturday. We missed many nieces and nephews and in-laws that were not able to make the trip.
Saturday would be the big day for my sister. It was a very busy day. I will end this post here and write about Saturday in the next one :)