Mon, July 23 ~ Monday was water park day! After visiting with Mama T in the morning, we headed on over. At first I just thought we were heading to a little splash pad / spray park, but once we got there, I realized it was a full-on water park and I hadn’t even brought my swimsuit. So I ran to Target and got a new one that I really love! Then I was able to get into the 4 ft wading pool with Homer, and ride the kiddie water slides, and it was a ton of fun. I loved snapping some shots of the kids. Here’s one of Winnie!
Tues, July 24 ~ Tuesday was already the last day of visiting with Ma. We sat outside at the picnic tables with Maria and Nilda and Yosi and just chatted for a good long while together, which was nice. And then we said good-bye, which is the downside of any visit with the people we love!
For our afternoon event, we decided to take Homer to Brookfield Zoo. Joe and I had only been there together once before, in 2002, during Thanksgiving week, when it was quite snowy:
I was so excited to take a photo at the same gorilla, with our sweet little guy in there with us this time (I love his little cheetah face!):
That night, we hung out at Nilda’s again, had some dinner, visited with lots of family who gathered there again, and at the end of the night had to say our goodbyes to everyone! It really flew by! It was such a nice visit, and I’m so glad we got to see everyone (minus one nephew who we were able to face time with, but missed seeing in person! We got to meet his daughter, though, which was awesome!).
Wed, July 25 ~ The next morning, we were all packed up and back on the road! We drove to LaCrosse, Wisconsin and stayed the night there. And apparently, I took no photos that day!
Thurs, July 26 ~ The next morning, we passed through Minnesota, and during a random stop we made because we needed a restroom, we unexpectedly came upon The Jolly Green Giant!! (Ho ho ho!) So of course we took a bunch of awesome tourist-y photos with him, and it was amazing!
Afterward, we kept on driving and stopped in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the night. The hotel had the nicest pool yet, with a rope monkey bars type area, and floating foam pads to walk on while you held the ropes, and even water canons to shoot into the pool! Homer and I played around in it for about two and a half hours!! (And managed to do laundry at the same time, as the guest laundry room was right next to the pool.)
Fri, July 27 ~ Friday, we drove through more of South Dakota and stopped in Black Hills for the night. On the way, we saw signs for the Corn Palace, which no one found interesting except me. So I stopped and took a few photos, and then we continued on our way!
Sat, July 28 ~ After staying the night in Black Hills (which I loved the look of! so many gorgeous trees, train tracks, old trains, and a cool Main Street area with awesome little shops), we headed over to see Mt. Rushmore! It was very different than I expected! I thought it would be like, you drive up and you pull over, and just kind of look at it from the road. Instead, we pulled into one of several lanes, paid to get in, parked in a parking lot, took an elevator or stairs to the 3rd/top level, crossed the street, then walked through an arch way, and along a long uphill pathway, through a tunnel of state monuments and flags, all the way to the view point for Mt. Rushmore. It’s so big, you can see it from where you’re about to first cross the road, but the view changes as you get closer. Anyway, it was just one of those fascinating things, and we had a really nice visit, got a few souvenirs, and ate some ice cream and nachos before heading out again.
Right after we were done there, we drove to Wyoming and stopped at Devil’s Tower, our other major goal for our trip. It was so cool we got to see both in the same day!
I really enjoyed seeing Devil’s Tower. It was such an interesting spot, and the rock itself is so fascinating, with a really interesting texture. It was a little over a mile to walk all the way around, and I was tempted to walk it, but we were all feeling really out of it and achey in various ways and it just felt like it was time to go. So after we took our photos, and admired it a while, we headed out. It’s a good thing we left when we did, because JUST as we got back onto the road, a huge storm came in, and hard rain and even hail rained down on us! It was crazy! It didn’t last too long though, and soon it was smooth sailing to our next destination – our hotel in Gilette!
Sun, July 29 ~ Then from Gilette, we drove to Butte, Montana. There was no shortage of “butt” jokes the entire way to Butte, and there was a lot of accompanying giggling. Our favorite sign was “She’s a Butte!” (Yes, we know it’s pronounced “byoot,” but it’s way more fun to pretend it’s pronounced “butt.”) We are goofballs!
Our adventure continues in the next post!