So we spent a fair amount of time in South Dakota (a phrase I thought I'd never say) and it was quite lovely.
We (very happily) met up with Pete in Sioux Falls, and later that evening actually went to the real Sioux Falls, which were beautiful.
Our end destination was Hot Springs, SD, but along the way we stopped at the Badlands. It was a really good national park to start, because it was manageable in both size and scope. We did a short hike that involved climbing up (and down) a very steep wooden ladder
|It was hot. Really really hot.|
|Looking for shade.|
|Not us, but people included for size and steepness - we went up and down this ladder.|
and both kids got their first Junior Rangers Badges.
|Being sworn in.|
The National Parks are not kidding around about those things - the kids actually have to do quite a bit of learning and thinking to make it happen. Jax is definitely more into it than Lea is, but she's earned a couple too.
After the Badlands we kept driving until we got to Hot Springs, where we set up camp, I made dinner and the kids hopped into the pool, all in what felt like a 15 minute time span. The KOA we stayed at was lovely, but I feel like we actually barely got to experience it because the next morning we packed up early so that the kids and Pete could make it to a tour of Wind Cave National Park.
I don't like small spaces, so I passed on the cave tour (Lea's first words upon seeing me at the end were "you would have hated that") but the kids and Pete like it, so they went off to have some fun doing that. Apparently the caves were really cool, and had unique features not found in other places.
The rest of the park was pretty as well - we had our first buffalo sighting there!
|Not cows, which we saw plenty of, I promise. Definitely buffalo.|
We left Wind Cave National Park and headed on to Mount Rushmore. We passed Crazy Horse en route, but made the decision to not stop.
|Look carefully. There's his face.|
|Yes, we look photoshopped. No, we're not.|
We stayed long enough for Jax to fly thought a Junior Ranger program and get his badge, and then we were back in the car.
Originally we were supposed to go all the way to Greybull, WY that evening, but, thankfully, I realized a couple of days before that at the pace we were averaging getting all the way to Greybull would have been far more hours in the car than we wanted to spend, so we made reservations at a KOA in Sheridan, WY instead (about 100 miles shorter) which was a VERY good choice. As it was, we pulled in at about 9pm, set up camp and went to bed.
We had a lazy morning, which was very much needed, and then moved along to Yellowstone, which will be another post entirely.
The short is that South Dakota actually has a lot of cool stuff to offer, it's just very far apart. I do feel comfortable saying, though, that South Dakota feels like Times Square compared to the emptiness that is Wyoming.
|Wyoming, where they love their cowboys.|
Up next: Yellowstone.