So this year, finally I took my 6 children on their first vacation ever! We went toRapid City, South Dakota. We had been looking forward to this trip for a long time. I was a bit nauseous when thinking about it as I have never taken my kids so far away from everyone we know. And I was doing this as a single mom. EEEEK a bit scary for me.
I felt so ill the morning we were to leave that my two youngest children, 10 and 12, loaded all the sleeping bags and backpacks and supplies into the suburban by themselves at 5 am in the morning!!! They were so excited. They got the cat and guinea pig fed, a big thank you to my friend Renee for watching them by the way!! They packed the lunch bags, and loaded it, helped get their disabled brother ready, and finally I had my stomach under control and we loaded up to go and get the other kiddos.
I was an hour late picking them up, but they were excited, they packed their stuff in quickly, and off we went. We ran by our local Caseys, topped off the gas, filled the ice chest with ice, tossed in the lunch food, grabbed a few bottles of juice for the road and headed north. Until we passed Salina, Ks, which we visit frequently as our pediatrician is there, it felt kinda normal. However when we passed Salina, I quoted Sam from Lord of the Rings, "If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest from away from home I've ever been." Which actually isn't true. I am originally from California, but with all my kiddos and myself in the car and me being responsible for it all, it WAS true! LOL.
Our first stop was in Beloit, Kansas although technically it wasn't a stop we just turned around to get a picture of the Happy Barn, LOL. We felt we truly needed a photo of this barn in order for our journey to continue on correctly. So we turned around went back and got our Happy Barn picture.
Next we stopped at Cawker City, Ks and the worlds biggest ball of twine. I didn't even know it was there until we were driving past and we were like " HEY WE NEED A PICTURE OF THAT!" So I swung on into the parking lot and we piled out and got our picture. Word of warning, ummmmm pay attention to your dogs when you go to take a photo near here. I didn't notice until it was too late. Our innocent looking Ashley Wilkes piddled on the worlds biggest ball of twine in Cawker City, Ks. Oppps.. "Uhh time to leave, quickly into the car now." "Uhhhh, no one saw that right?" LOL
We of course had to stop and take a picture the moment we were in another state. While my kiddos lived in Tennessee for a brief period of time, it was so long ago and they were quite little. So for them it was a big deal. Ashley Wilkes piddled on this sign too. I didn't feel too bad as I figure coyotes have probably piddled all over the thing.
We stopped at Caseys in Holdrege, Ne. Time to stretch our legs, I topped off the tank, everyone went to the bathroom, including Ashley Wilkes although why he needed to still go is beyond me, LOL. It was good to move around a bit. Of course every stop with 6 kids and a dog, takes like 300 hours. Okay, so maybe I am exaggerating, but it had to be close to an hour, LOL. We packed back up and we were on our way. Somewhere on Hwy 80 my daughter made sandwiches for everyone for lunch so we avoided having to stop for that! YAY! LOL.
This was our journey through Nebraska, LOL. We didn't stop much although we did stop briefly in Ogallala for, yup you guessed it a bathroom break. We then turned off on to Hwy 26 and skirted around Lake McConaughy, didn't see Matthew anywhere, so we kept going. ;) LOL.
We stopped in Oshkosh, Ne for a bathroom break and drinks and of course my boys quickly spotted the Cramalot Inn, self storage, and went closer to get a picture. I grabbed one while they were walking back. We continued on and enjoyed the scenery along Hwy 26. There really are some lovely things to see. There are a variety of small town and I could have posted @ 200 pictures that we took on the first day, just traveling up there. At Bridgeport, Ne, we turned onto Hwy 385 and headed north.
Just south of Alliance, Ne, we saw a large train yard. We had been seeing trains all afternoon hauling coal. I guess I did not realize that we still haul that much coal by train. But being from a family who loves their trains, going back several generations, I snapped a couple of shots of the train yard as I thought it was pretty cool. We stopped briefly in Alliance for drinks, restroom break and to top off the tank again. Wait, I think I am beginning to see why we had to stop to use the bathroom so much! LOL. I have typed the word drinks quite a few times, LOL.
So we finally got loaded up and headed north again but with the intended slight detour to Carhenge. The kiddos thought this was pretty cool. Ashley Wilkes left his calling card, oh yes he did again. And we hopped back into the car. LOL. We actually made some pretty good progress on this next leg. We drove through the Chadron State Park, which is lovely and green. We then stopped for way too long at a gas station in Chadron, LOL. There was a bus stopped there and there was a line for the bathrooms.
We headed west for a bit on Hwy 385/20 and then swung north on Hwy 385. Sadly there was not a North Dakota sign up, I am assuming because there was road construction going on, and it looked as if they were making the road wider.
My kiddos first glimpse of the Black Hills. No, they are not huge mountains, but for kiddos who have mostly only experienced the fairly flat land of Kansas, these were amazing. What am I saying? I think the Black Hills are amazing. Absolutely beautiful. They oohed and ahh'd all the way to Rapid City! Who am I kidding? So did I. The scenery is so lovely. Despite all the stops we actually made it while it was pretty early and still light, LOL. Pssst, someone forgot that we gained an hour, LOL. In my defense, I had my phone off except when I turned it on to check in with my mom to let her know where we were, so my phone did not adjust. Someone was really anxious that we were going to be really late and no one would be at the office of the Happy Holiday Resort when we got there, LOL.
We are here!!! We made it!! We actually made it to our destination on our very first vacation ever!! I chose these cabins as they are a step up from camping. We love to camp, but I did not want to camp on this trip. The bathroom was 10 feet from our door, the showers were maybe 50. We had bunks for 8, although there were only 7 of us, a campfire ring and picnic table right out front. The place was great. For 5 dollars they would deliver a large bundle of firewood to your cabin porch. They had laundry facilities, game room, small grocery store, and a pool. They also offer camping, RV spots, and a small hotel. It is located on Hwy 16 which heads right into Rapid City, as well as Keystone and right up to Mount Rushmore. It is also right across from Reptile gardens. We will stay here again as we do plan on going back to Rapid City after a few years. We unpacked, thankfully the kiddos were still excited and very hungry, so that went fast. We ran into Rapid City, grabbed pizza for dinner and then settled in for our first night!