Our Western Adventure – South Dakota

We recently got back from a 9 day adventure, which ultimately ended up in Yellowstone National Park.

This picture was taken in 2012 in the Badlands. We attempted to recreate this picture again this year.

This picture was taken in 2012 in the Badlands. We attempted to recreate this picture again this year.

Day 1

We left just after 8 am on a Friday morning. Leaving only 15 minutes later than our goal was pretty good for 7 people headed halfway across the country. We drove from MN to South Dakota. The kids were really good for the long trip! It was a little cramped, as we now have 4 teenagers and a 10 year old, and there was almost no complaining. We had 4 tablets, each with movies downloaded onto them, and a Kindle Fire, plus cell phones and an ipod. We let them watch/play on them for much of the drive out.

This is the recreation attempt in the Badlands this year. Hard to believe how much the kids have grown in the past 3 years!

This is the recreation attempt in the Badlands this year. Hard to believe how much the kids have grown in the past 3 years!

Our first stop was the Badlands. We got out, and explored at a few of the sites. We noticed things were much greener this year, than when we were last there 3 years ago. Michael and I explored a trail that I didn’t remember being there when we last went. It took us out over the tops of the hills, and to an awesome overlook! We also climbed a different rock formation, and came to another awesome view. Jason and the rest of the crew explored another area while we were doing our little hike.

Once we were done in the Badlands, we went to Sleepy Hollow, our campground in Wall, SD. We were about a block from Wall Drug, but didn’t go there. The campground was fine, nothing spectacular. We were only there to sleep.

Day 2

 

Many days, we stopped at picnic sites such as this, or ate picnic lunches in the car. This site was in Custer.

Many days, we stopped at picnic sites such as this, or ate picnic lunches in the car. This site was in Custer.

Saturday morning, we got up and headed to Custer State Park. On the way, we stopped at the Minuteman Missile Museum. The museum is brand new, and not quite complete. It will be a cool stop for people when it’s done. We didn’t see the actual missile outdoors as shown on the website. This was probably due to the fact that we got there right before they closed.

Shortly after entering Custer, we came across the buffalo herd. They were very close to the road, and I was surprised at how brave the bikers were. There was one HUGE male right next to our car. Seriously, I could have probably reached out and touched him! He was sniffing the rear of the buffalo in front of him (which the kids thought was hilarious). Then, he turned his head, and started sniffing towards our car. His head was bigger than my window… I started panicking a bit (which the kids also thought was quite funny). We couldn’t really move the car, due to stopped traffic… I was definitely ready to move on. Darn imagination, picturing him ramming right through my car door!

Baby buffalo taking a drink from its mama!

Baby buffalo taking a drink from its mama!

As we continued our drive, we stopped to pet and feed the donkeys. They are “wild animals”, but they are actually pretty tame. The kids fed pears to the donkeys, and thought it was pretty cool that they ate them right out of their hands. We also saw some antelope hanging out in the same pasture.

After leaving the wildlife loop, we drove through the Needles Highway. This was a bit nerve-wracking, as we were pulling the pop up camper. We were heading through at the end of Sturgis, so there were motorcycles everywhere. They weren’t exactly staying in their lanes during the hairpin turns, and we were sure we were going to end up hitting one. No, we didn’t, but a few got close. The tunnels were especially frustrating. There are 3 tunnels, all one lane. We honked upon entering the longest one, and there was no response. As we got right to the entrance, a whole group of motorcycles went through, followed by several others. We did our best to back up, but with a line of vehicles behind us, it was very difficult. Luckily, a motorcyclist behind us went ahead to the other side, and asked them to hold off so we could get through. We were thankful she did. This was probably the most stressful part of the trip. I don’t think we’ll drive that again with a camper behind us!

Grace, pretending to hold up Devils Tower at our campground.

Grace, pretending to hold up Devils Tower at our campground.

We wrapped up the day by heading to our campground at the KOA at the base of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. They have a nightly showing of Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. Unfortunately, we got there late enough in the evening, that we were still setting up camp, and did not get to watch. We ate dinner at the campground. Prices were a bit high for the quality of the food, but we were hungry, and didn’t care. The camp ground was nice, though the bathrooms were stinky! At the KOA, I threw in the laundry we had created so far. While the laundry was going, the kids played Exploding Kittens, and I sat in the laundry room reading. It was a peaceful night!

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