Monday, November 17, 2014

Spring Break 2014—part 3, Yellowstone and Rexburg

The only downer to the whole trip (and not even that major) is that we were about one week early in visiting Yellowstone. Not all the entrances and roads were open, so we weren’t able to see Old Faithful, but we did get to see lots of wildlife and Mammoth Hot Springs. There were so many bison, and at one point, they were crossing the road right in front of our car, that our girls still remember seeing all the “bison bums”. DSC_6484DSC_6487DSC_6491DSC_6506DSC_6492DSC_6500It was freezing cold as we walked down to the hot springs, and the springs smelled awful, which the girls weren’t too fond of. But they thought it looked like a cupcake mountain, so all was well in their world. DSC_6513 DSC_6516 DSC_6525 DSC_6540 DSC_6546 DSC_6553 DSC_6567 DSC_6571IMG_4358 IMG_4359 IMG_4362 DSC_6581

Since there wasn’t much else we could see, we just drove in a little bit into the park then turned around and headed for Idaho. Yes, after living in Utah for 5 years, I could NOW finally check Idaho off my list of states to visit. After this trip, I am down to just 3 that I need to visit—Alaska, Oregon, & North Dakota.


Arriving in Rexburg at dinnertime on a Sunday is not the best time to arrive. The only thing open was a Pizza Hut next to our motel, so we ate there, and we were the only ones we saw there the entire time. Not surprising. After dinner we met up with Hayley and Taylor Larsen, who showed us around the BYU-Idaho campus. I was surprised at how nice it was! I had decided if any of my kids wanted to go there I would be okay with it. :) We also walked around the Rexburg Temple, which is beautiful and in a beautiful location. It was freezing cold and super windy. Not a good combo. We finished off the night with some swimming with the Larsen’s at the motel.DSC_6598  DSC_6613 DSC_6631

The next morning we went to the bookstore, where I saw things that had me rethinking my acceptance to let my kids go there…

IMG_4374And then we were off to Jackson Hole!

Spring Break 2014—part 2, Wall Drug & Mt. Rushmore

After driving through the Badlands we drove to Wall Drug. I’ve seen bumpers stickers for Wall Drug my whole life and never had any idea about what or where it was. Well, now I do! It’s in Wall, South Dakota! It was started by a family way back in the day, and they got their break by offering motorists free ice water, which they still offer today. We got a few things to snack on and walked around the huge, overpriced, tourist trap. There were plenty of mounted jackelopes to be found, as well as every kind of souvenir imaginable. After buying our traditional magnet, we went on our way.

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We left Wall and headed for Mt. Rushmore. Mt. Rushmore is one of those places that every American needs to see at least once in their life. Of course I teared up when I saw it. There was something so reverent and peaceful about the whole place. We could really feel a special spirit about the place, something that seemed to testify that our nation truly was organized under the guidance of God. It was cool. We walked the boardwalk through the base of the monument, where there were individual lookouts that highlighted each president.

DSC_6300 IMG_4333   DSC_6315 DSC_6323 DSC_6336 We saw a few big horn sheep, just grazing right in front of us near the parking lot. It was so cool! They didn’t seem to care that we were just feet away from them. A park ranger passing by told us they will go up to cars and sniff for food. DSC_6354 DSC_6381 DSC_6386 NOTE: if you go, you should know the entire route is NOT stroller friendly! We thought we could do it anyway, but Derrick wound up carrying the stroller up and down LOTS of stairs. Don’t make the same mistake we did! But do walk the boardwalk…very cool. DSC_6396

The Crazy Horse Memorial was just around the corner, so we decided to check that out too. I had been to Mt. Rushmore back in 2000 with my family, and we stopped by Crazy Horse then too. It looks exactly the same as it did 14 years ago. Not much progress. But let me tell you, those Native Americans are tricky suckers. When you turn up the drive to the entrance, there are NO turn arounds and you HAVE to pay to get in. And it’s SO not worth the $25 or whatever it was to go in. Look at these pictures and know there is nothing else to see, unless you are super into Native American art and artifacts. I guess $25 is a small price to pay for giving them small pox and essentially treating them like crap…but seriously, don’t go here.  DSC_6410 DSC_6413 DSC_6423 DSC_6430 At this point it started snowing, and we had to make it to Billings, MT for the night. Not a very fun drive in the snow through the mountains, but we survived (with much praying) and we all slept great that night. IMG_4341Before we left for the trip, I bought some heavy duty spring clamps and brought a huge dark blanket. Everywhere we slept, we set up the pack n play for Tessa, then used the clamps to hang the blanket around it, creating her own little private “room”. I stuck the sound machine in there with here and it worked like a CHAMP. Everyone slept great, and she wasn’t distracted by seeing anyone else or hearing anyone else’s noises at night. I’ll be keeping this trick in my back pocket for future trips for sure.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spring Break 2014—part 1, the Badlands

It happened so that the stars aligned and a few events were all scheduled for the same weekend—a baby blessing, sealing, and Easter—so we headed out to Utah along with all of Derrick’s siblings—something else that doesn’t happen very often!

With now 3 kids in tow, we decided it would be cheaper and more convenient if we drove to Utah—something we’ve never done before. After weeks of planning and researching, we decided to take a few days to get out there and see some sights along the way.

The first day we left just after lunch and just drove. And drove. After about 10 hours, we finally arrives in Kadoka, SD, near the eastern entrance to the Badlands, and stayed in a seedy motel with the absolute worst continental breakfast in America. The girls did great in the car. How hard can it be for a kid to eat as many snacks as they want and use the iPad as much as they want? Real rough.

After finding some real breakfast, we drove through the Badlands. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what they were, or what to even expect. They only thing I knew about the Badlands was it was the location for the opening scene of Jurassic Park, where they were digging up dinosaur bones. But they were SO COOL. Really cool formations, and we even got to see real dinosaur bones. That was the girls’ favorite part, and probably mine too.

We thought it was really cool how the landscape would go from dry jagged peaks to rolling hills with grass and vegetation. It really was its own kind of beautiful--this crazy rocky formation in the middle of flatlands. If you’re ever in the area, it’s definitely worth the drive through.

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