Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Road Trip: South Dakota

Ryan and I have wanted to check out Mount Rushmore ever since we moved here to Nebraska. We knew we needed to see it before we left the state because chances are, we wouldn't find ourselves this close to it again. We had a free weekend earlier this month and at the last minute, we decided to hop in the car for a quick trip (8-ish hours each way). Other than Mount Rushmore, we had no idea what South Dakota had to offer. Luckily, my sister-in-law Courtney and her boyfriend drove through SD just weeks before this and hit all the 'hot spots', so we just copied their agenda!

Ready for a road trip. Brady was asleep, we had an audio book playing, and the road was clear. Perfection!

We left Omaha on Friday at noon and got into Rapid City at about 10pm. We took our time getting out there. Ryan had to stop for a conference call and if we saw something that looked interesting, we pulled off to check it out. FYI - if you're driving through SD and you see billboards for the Corn Palace, don't go! No matter how alluring the signs are, it's just an arena...and there was a graduation ceremony going on at the time...seriously, NOTHING to see. The billboards are VERY misleading, they make it sound like some unique attraction.

The funniest thing about the drive are all of the Wall Drug billboards. There are HUNDREDS of them and they start hundreds of miles before you're even close to Wall Drug. Here is a small sampling of some of the billboards:

We stopped there on our way home (how could you NOT?) I'll get to that later. 

We stopped at a Hilton in Rapid City and got a great night's sleep. We had a great breakfast at the hotel in the morning (LOVE Ryan's Hilton points - food/lodging was free) and headed out for our adventure. 

We weren't planning on stopping at the Crazy Horse memorial...I had seen Courtney's pictures of it and figured "eh" there wasn't much to see, but it was only 30 minutes past Rushmore, so we decided to go anyway. In the end, we decided it was a waste of time and $20. But, here are some pictures if you're interested:

peepin' in the teepee

Brady was most excited about the kitty on the property :)

Some day it's going to be Crazy Horse on his horse pointing out to the place where their fathers are buried (I may have that totally wrong), but honestly, I don't think this will EVER be completed. It was started in 1948 and clearly, they have a long way to go. In their defense, it is supposed to be the largest sculpture in the world if it's ever completed, so it's no small project. But they don't have the money to complete it now. 

Once we finished up here, we headed over the Mount Rushmore. I had heard that it's a little disappointing  like you don't get to get up very close or something...but I was super impressed. There is a lookout which is set back a bit for a full view, but there's also a short 1 mile walk that takes you right up to the base of it and gives you closer views of each of the presidents. I LOVED it. 

In order to get Brady to keep up with us on the 1 mile walk,  we pretended like Ryan was running from him. He LOVED it and kept trying to "get daddy", so we didn't have to carry him too much. 

He was more than restless from all the car time...he loved climbing, playing, jumping, exploring, etc. outside. 

and just stopping to lay down ;)

checking the view below

The view is better from up here :)

he would only JUMP down the stairs...and there were a lot of them..

taking a break

After Mount Rushmore, we headed to Bear Country USA, a drive through wildlife park. It was AWESOME!

White wolves

They walked right up towards the car

Notice the sign "move ahead slowly, bears will move". They would pace back and forth along the gate as if guarding/blocking the entry to the next area

as you pulled up to them, the would walk RIGHT up to your car waiting for you to move so they could continue pacing.

These lionesses were cuddling!

After the drive through portion, you walk through Baby Land to see baby animals.

There were 4 cubs and they were wrestling. SO cute!

After Bear Country, we were ready to head back towards home. Badlands National Park was close and  on the way home (only adding about 30 minutes to our trip to drive through, so we took a detour through there. Brady slept through this portion of the trip, so when Ryan and I stopped to look at the view and take pictures, we'd have to take turns so someone was always in the car with Brady. It was not as fun as if we could all get out and explore it together, but Brady was SO tired from the day that we thought it best to let him sleep.

Finally, we stopped at Wall Drug for lunch. It was really nothing special...but I did have a homemade donut and it was quite enjoyable. We headed home and enjoyed listening to Pillars of the Earth the entire way. 

This was a quick trip...we left friday afternoon and were home by saturday night....over 16 hours of driving and lots of sights seen. It was exhausting, but it was worth it. And I'm glad we were able to be home in time for a relaxing mother's day the next day. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad my blog helped you guys with your trip! :-)