Thursday, July 30, 2015

Road Trip!

We took our very first RV road trip as a family!  Our destination was the Black Hills of South Dakota and we made it.  :)  If you know Patrick and I that is quite the accomplishment.  We are not the best at planning things and we tend to wing it a lot.

This was our home away from home.
Initially when we started to plan, we thought we could do 6-9 hour drives so that we could get to our destination that much faster.  Being a blogger, I looked to my blogging community for advice and found a woman who had this plan in mind as well and in hindsight she regretted that decision.  Her advice, don't drive more than four hours at a time.  Our first day we travelled a little over 9 hours and that was tough!  For the rest of our journey we tried to stay under four and it was much, much better.
A co-worker of Patrick's went on and sent him some links to offbeat tourist attractions we might encounter along the way.  Only driving four hours at a time allowed us to be relaxed and visit a few of those attractions.  First up, the Fiberglass Statue Mold Yard where we saw Santa (in July!) and a few more.

The Old Woman wasn't home.

Our first sighting of Mount Rushmore!
On the road again.
My honey and captain, pilot, driver of our big rig.

Road construction!  A necessary evil during the summer road trip.
The road construction was quite nerve wracking at times in the big RV.  My hat goes off to all the semi drivers that drive these highways day in and day out.  Road construction or no.
A few miles down the road we came across the Golden Stripe near Blue Earth, MN.  Also home to the Jolly Green Giant.  We probably would have zoomed past this little stripe had Mike not informed us of it's presence.  Thanks Mike!
Windmills as far as the eye can see.

Into the setting sun.
Yay!  South Dakota!
We probably should have stopped (like the family in the left of the photo) to take a proper picture, but we were getting tired and tired of traveling.
We stopped overnight at Snake Creek Recreational Area in South Dakota.  We pulled in after dark and didn't have a map of the campground readily available.  We ended up driving through the campground about four times with our loud diesel engine sometime around midnight!  Sorry everyone.  It was a great campground, however our site was not the best.  We didn't mind though since it was just a pit stop on our journey.
The next morning after breakfast we broke camp and headed out.  Little did we know this was waiting for us just around the corner.  The Missouri river and Lake Francis Case.


The weather was beautiful and hot!  We could already feel the heat at about 10am.  The sun was shining on us the whole trip.  Made for some squinty photos.
Road trip essentials.  Assorted drinks, sunglasses, ketchup, camera and toothbrush.
The view for miles and miles and miles.

The sight we saw more than any other.

Gas pump graveyard.
"O beautiful for heroes proved, In liberating strife."
~America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates
Badlands National Park

Beauty clinging to the side of the hill.



We really enjoyed the badlands and I could share photo after photo.  Suffice it to say, if you are ever in the area, don't overlook this national park.

Raptors in the Badlands.
I thought of our nephew Josh.  We saw about eight or so of these Ford Raptors pictured above.  Most were covered in dirt.  Don't know where they were coming from or going to, but it looked like fun.
Marketing photo for Jayco? :)
Okay, I just have to post a few more photos.  It seemed as if every turn revealed a different facet of the badlands.  If we ever come through here again, we are definitely camping overnight.  As a little useless fact, I have now seen the badlands from the air and land, in the same year.  Woot, woot.

On to our final destination, the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We camped three nights at Horse Thief Campground and RV resort.  This campground was quiet, beautiful and centrally located.  We enjoyed our stay there and would recommend it to anyone traveling to the area.  In the interest of full disclosure, the pull-through RV sites are right on top of one another!  We were literally less than eight feet from our neighbors.  This would have been a huge downfall, except that we were never there except to eat dinner, have a campfire and sleep.  The back-in and tent sites offered much more space.   
Mount Rushmore.
Patrick and I saw Mount Rushmore together 19 years ago on our honeymoon and both remembered it being smaller then.  :)  We had the pleasure of celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary this year following in the footsteps of our honeymoon.  This time around we are older and wiser, we have four children and a dog, more gray hair (and in Patrick's case, less hair), we are still in love and are looking forward to 19 more years with each other.

The next day we rented a vehicle and drove Needles highway and enjoyed Wildlife Loop Road through Custer State park.  There are vehicle height and width restrictions for Needles highway.  For good reason.  The RV would have never fit through the tunnels let alone travel on the narrow, winding roads.

We could touch the walls on either side of the vehicle. 


Custer State Park

Our first buffalo sighting.

Momma and baby.

Buffalo Xing!

Why hello bearded fellow.  You are large and scary.
What do you do when a large buffalo stops in front of your vehicle?  You wait of course.
The view from the door of Gordon Stockade.
I see you!

One of my favorite's in Custer, SD.
Crazy Horse hasn't changed in the last 30 or so years.  :(

We may be getting a little stir crazy.
On one of our side trips we went to Custer, Deadwood, Lead and Sturgis.  Such fun history in some of these towns.  The kids and I had the pleasure of studying the old west this year in school and it was fun to see some things 'come to life'.
As with all good fun, it must come to an end.  We headed out of the Black Hills by way of Highway 14 in South Dakota.  If you do not enjoy traffic or people, this is the route for you.  You can literally see for miles in any direction and we could count on one hand the amount of cars we passed, or passed us.
The road less traveled.

Good night sun.
One of our stops was the Oahe Dam.  One of the worlds largest rolled earth dam.  Pretty impressive!
Oahe Dam


A little white house we came upon while trying to find the state park.
That my friends, was the sweetened condensed version of our first RV trip.  Will I take another?  You bet!  Am I happy to be home?  You bet.  As Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz has said, "There's no place like home."