Day 1: arrived in Hill City South Dakota, long drive: 10+ hours. Once we finally got there and went to dinner in town, right away. Afterwards we went back to the cabin to relax in the hot tub after settling in.
Day 2: We went to Sylvan lake and hiked halfway around (up and down over rocks and logs, etc. to see a cool (in both senses of the word) waterfall that actually comes out of the lake. The hike took us below lake level without me noticing it. The hike about killed me but I was a bit disappointed that the trail didn't go all the way around. It was beautiful there and I'd really love to go kayaking there. Maybe next year I'll load my kayak, drive there and camp. Miriam sat on a tree stump and got sap all over her butt! Next, we drove to the needles , a cool rock formation you have to see to appreciate. Next, we went to Crazy Horse monument . It was pretty amazing. It's hard to comprehend how huge it is but seeing the tour movie helps. The hole through the mountain is big enough to put a 10 story building in. We ate lunch there, then went to tour the Wind Caves. I asked if we could take the shorter of the tours since I was so worn out from the hike at Sylvan Lake and nobody seemed to mind. I couldn't take any pictures since my camera is just too cheap to take proper pictures in the dark . Anyway, it was really neat there and really interesting to say the least. Finally, back to the cabin for dinner. Too pooped to even hot tub, we went to bed.
Day 3: The next day we got up early to drive through the Nature Loop. Nannette said we should get up really early since that's the best time to see wild life. It was a nice drive and we visited some wild asses who weren't so wild and weren't complete asses. (just kidding! But they were very calm for wild asses, mooching food from tourists.) Next we made our way to the Hot Springs Mammoth Site , which I found pretty fascinating. Unfortunately, my pictures don't do it justice. I don't think Mitchell was impressed with the guided tour, either but go figure. He doesn't like guided tours as a general rule, anyway. Haha! Next we had lunch in town before touring some more. It seems to me we did something else before going to Mt. Rushmore but maybe it was just such a long drive (we spent A LOT of time in that van). We went there toward evening because Angela had hopes of seeing a fireworks show. So, when we got there, everyone rushed to the bathrooms (maybe that's why it's called Rushmore! Heehee!) and we waited for sunset. I found out they didn't offer fireworks that night but we were all satisfied to wait for the monument to be lit up for pictures. Once again my camera was not capable of decent pictures but I was happy to be able to say I saw the monument with my son. So, it was time to head back, hopefully get there in time to jump in the hot tub. On the way out, we saw a parking lot where you can take pictures and view a profile of Rushmore. Of course we stopped for pictures again although AGAIN mine didn't turn out well. So we headed to the cabin and by the time we got back we were once again too tired for the hot tub and even skipped dinner. The decision was made to get up early again to drive through the Badlands
Day 4: We headed off to drive through the Badlands . Very interesting place with really cool formations. Nanette had mentioned to us the possibility of rattlesnakes and to be ware. We drove to Sheep Mountain Table and took pictures. I walked past everyone and was going to take a picture of a flower when something shot through the underbrush (I never even saw it, just the plants moving so fast I didn't know what was happening) stepped on Uncle Manfred's foot before he jumped up terrified! Turns out it was just a rabbit but it startled him so much that he jerked his foot back and cut it, bruising the bone. So he limped quite a lot through the rest of the day. I felt bad even though it wasn't my fault. Well, we continued our drive, stopping at a creepy little town called Scenic before continuing on. Uncle Manfred mentioned the Minuteman Missile museum , which was at the top of the loop we were on so we thought that would be a cool place to visit. Turns out it's only an informational place with a movie explaining the site. It was HILARIOUS! The guy was so intense and serious it was all I could do not to start cracking up. Well, I guess everyone else thought the same but we didn't want to make the guy feel bad so we kept it all quiet. (It was so funny in fact, that on the way home, Mitchell and I stopped there to try to buy a copy of the DVD but it's not for sale. The guy said we might be able to see it online at their website. There are some there but not the one in particular we saw since it was the newest.) So, we continued through the Badlands, passing through creepyville again.
Day 5: On our final day we went to Jewel Cave and took one of the longer tours. By the time we got done and got to Flintstone Park it was closed. But if you ask Miriam it was one of the best stops of the whole week and Mitchell agrees! They got on these silly quarter machines (a horse and a dragon) and laughed uncontrollably as they were bounced up and down and around. I believe they have a clip of it online. Since the park was closed, we knew we couldn't get to the Alpine slide in time so after trying to get a bit of info on a geocache we started back to Hill City with the plan of finding the cache along the way. Unfortunately there was something wrong with the online info, saying the cache was in New Hampshire. I gave up. We opted to go back to the cabin to grill the meat we had marinating, enjoy dinner, get in that hot tub and drink any and all beer available. Dinner turned out better than I expected even though I was nervous cooking for everyone and gladly turned the beef over to Nanette while I grilled salmon. Nanette made bacon wrapped asparagus that was really delicious. We also had fried potatoes and fresh tomatoes. We all had our fill and Uncle Manfred laid down while the rest of us sat in the hot tub and later sat around the table on the deck talking , laughing, and looking at pictures and so on until it was time for bed.
Time to drive home
Day 6: We got up fairly early and loaded up everything. It was a somber morning . Of course, there was one last picture of everyone together and it was time for hugs and good-byes. I was surprised I had to hitch back tears. I was eager to get on the road though so off we went, Uncle Manfred and family going their way and me and Mitchell going ours. The drive home was hot and tedius and we got back at about 8:30 p.m. glad to be back but wishing we were still there.