Nothing fancy here, but I will provide a little update here…
1) Thank you so much for well-wishes and prayers. So far our guardian angels and patron saints have been very kind to us on the trip – safe travel so far and no serious injury or death to report, which can be a small miracle with 6 boys 11 and under…
2) Day 1 was a drive day
3) Day 2 was a Laura Ingalls Wilder tour. My two daughters and my wife loved it. The boys enjoyed it to varying degrees. I managed to tolerate it… not exactly my thing. But that’s what you do on vacation as the husband and father. Then, on to our house that we are renting to Piedmont.
4) Beautiful home and location. Love love love it.
5) Day 3 – always enjoy goin to Mass in different places, and always appreciate the universality of the Mass. It’s a wonderful piece of wisdom that the Church has the same readings throughout the world and the same basic Liturgy is celebrated, so that we knew we were still in prayerful union with those from home, as well as everywhere else. I don’t often reflect on that, but when somewhere distant I always remember it. Got a tip from the Priest on a hiking rail in the area, too! Met a nice family with 4 young children who loved seeing our “large” family. I find that having all these kids around us and actually seeming happy is a witness all by itself. After a lazy afternoon at the house, we decided we needed to “do” something, so we went to the nearby Petrified Forest. Not the most spectacular thing in the world, but interesting nonetheless. We are in the Black Hills, and we have hiked to the top of the nearest “mountain.” This is where I thought I’d lose a son or two… lot’s of rocky, cliffy areas and steep slopes. Somehow, we managed to make it back alive. It was also a reminder of my woeful state of physical conditioning.
6) Day 4 – Mount Rushmore. We loved it, but probably don’t have to say much about it. Ice Cream in Keystone (a family rule that cannot be broken: we must eat ice cream every day. It’s my rule. Everyone complies.) We toured a Gold Mine in Keystone and panned for gold.
7) Day 5 – Mammoth site – saw lots of bones. Pretty cool. Went to Wind Cave and explored a cave. Also pretty cool. (Literally- 53 degrees) Ice cream in Hill City.
8) Day 6 – Scenic Drive – Spearfish Canyone. Wonderful scenery. Did some hiking and saw a couple falls. Did lunch in the city of Lead, at Lewie’s. My wife read they had world-famous burgers there, so that’s what we had. Half-pounders. Sweet. I got mine with bacon. I don’t apologize for it. After that we went to Deadwood, which we suspected and then confirmed doesn’t have a whole lot to offer for children. Summary of Deadwood: Gambling, Food, Gambling, Saloons, Gambling, Old People, Gambling, Wild Bill Hickok, Gambling, Bikers, and Gambling. We did manage to find a museum that really wasn’t my thing, but my wife really enjoyed. Also, we had a round of Sarsparillas at the #10 Saloon, and saw a re-enactment of Wild Bill getting shot. This appears to be like the most amzingly historical event in history if all you had to go on was Deadwood. Ice Cream at the house.
9) Day 7 – Today – Badlands. One word: Awesome. We all hiked up in a few spots, saw some mule deer, and just really enjoyed the view. Then we felt obligated to go to the city of Wall and visit – you guessed it – Wall Drug. Yes, we allowed the signs to work. It’s a huge tourist trap and generally too expensive, and has all the elements that would usually lead me to want to put a bullet in my head rather than spend another minute there… but… we actually really enjoyed it! I wouldn’t spend a whole day there or anything, but I appreciated that they had a few things set up for little kids. They had good ice cream that wasn’t outrageous (yes, ice cream in Wall) and we did buy a few touristy things, but it wasn’t too bad. We all agreed that the Badlands/Wall day was a day well spent.
10) Tomorrow is Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse, and National Woodcarving Museum. Saturday is Rapid City, where we will go to Bear Country and a couple other things, and head back for Mass. Sunday we are driving all the way back to Wisconsin and expect to get home at about 1 am Monday morning, so please offer up another 5 second prayer for us.
Assessment at the moment is a thumbs up on SD! We know we are unable to see everything we want to see here, but we’re trying to get a taste of a lot of different things. So far, so good!