Below are my journal entries of the trip with a selection of photos
Wright Park, Lincoln, NE (46,382) - 7 PM departure.
Lake Minatare, NE - We camped here last night, arriving just after midnight. 6:30 I awakened the kiddoes and they're now dressing.
We hope to break camp and head over to Chimney Rock soon.
Asleep beside Lake Minatare
7:08 AM (46,851) - Stopped to see Courthouse + Jail Rocks. Alas, we could not find a way across the cornfields to go climb upon them.
Alora at Courthouse + Jail Rocks
10 AM - We stopped at Scotts Bluff on a whim and we were rewarded with a funtacular morn. We drove to the summit and then took the trail down along the edges of the cliffs to the visitor's center. Along the way the kids picked out ash and limestone layers interspersed in the sandstone. We also saw beetles, yucca plants and many flowers. Zara caught a grasshopper and Maxwell held Brittan's hand tight when we were near cliffs. We're now watching a movie about the Oregon Trail in the visitor's center. We're definitely coming back here with Cara someday. She's home working on organic chemistry.
Examining the strata on Scott's Bluff
12:21 PM - on 85 in eastern Wyoming - The odometer is at 47,000; the kids are all asleep; and there's no AT&T cell service. Quiet
times. Pretty rock formations though!
Alora, overlooking the valley of Salt Creek
Devil's Tower, WY - We arrived around 3PM to camp for the night. My right eye is still a bit off. After the girls set up the tent we're going to hike up to the visitor's center.
Zara approaches the Devil's Tower through fields of her beloved prairie dogs.
The kids are playing in the Belle Fourche River behind the campsite. All told we've hiked about 6 miles today after our
circumnavigation of the Devil's Tower. I'm pretty beat. It's 6:30 and at 7 they're going to watch a Cheyenne indian flute dance while
I make dinner. Then we're planning to make some s'mores!
I ran out for ice and found the KOA store just outside the park not only had ice, but also cool Devil's Tower shotglasses and a Roadside Geology of South Dakota book with a whole section on the Black Hills. The maps even extend to the tertiary vulcanism of Devil's Tower! A+B are doing crafties in the tent while M+Z climb trees and carve them with their pocketknives. The sun has just gone behind the hills (8:15) and it's really become quite nice.
7 AM - Last night was very COLD. Now I'm preparing bacon for the kiddles when they wake up.
Wind Cave, SD - We left the general, the 2 naturalists and the tyrant on their rock and headed down the road to the next large granite sculpture: Crazy Horse. It is $27 to get in and the thing isn't even complete yet! We opted to head on down the road to Wind Cave instead. Here we've already seen buffalo and more prairie dogs, much to the kids delight.
We got tickets for a cave tour (Fairgrounds) but it's not for an hour so the kids are exploring a prairie dog field. Zara loves to chase them, however futile the effort might be.
I think this was Brittan. No flash on the iPhone.
The tour was a lot of fun for the kiddles, but not really any stalagtites or stalagmites. Then we headed down to Hot Springs to see the mammoth site - 58 mammoths found so far: 55 Columbian mammoths + 3 wooly mammoths. 40 species total.
Brittans make a good bear snack
Badlands, SD (10:34 PM) - Well, nothing goes according to plan on a road trip! The Angostura Reservoir campground we were planning to use was full, so we took a vote + decided to head up toward the Badlands and find a campsite on the way. All the way up 79 to interstate 90 there was none. We zipped down 90 and didn't see a campsite until we were almost to the Wall exit. Ergo we decided to just drive into the Badlands and camp there, but the campsite is 24 miles from the Wall entrance . . . at 35 MPH. At least we got here before they closed the gate. Zara had peed in her carseat (she fell asleep), which led to crying until I got her into dry clothes. Then Brittan got a nasty sliver of tent pole fiberglass stuck through her skin between her thumb and forefinger. This led to screaming and crying until I got it out. Now that the kids are bedded down I'm planning to read some more SD geology . . .
Badlands, SD (47,500) - 8AM - It rained from ~2:30AM til ~7AM with powerfully windy thunderstorms. Now we've breakfasted and are headed for a hike. Apparently every time we come to the desert it rains - even without Cara here!
Fat man of the Badlands (pic courtesy of Zara)
We walked around Cliff Shelf and then drove over to hike up Saddle Pass and across the plain to the fossil dig. I ran back for the
car while the kids finished the hike.
Somehow there's gum all over Alora's seat. We know it wasn't Alora though, because she was the only kid who didn't have gum. I have declared a moratorium on gum for the rest of the trip. We are leaving the park at about noon. We're heading in the direction of home, with Brittan alone hoping we make it today. She still refuses to eat sandwiches.