Friday, September 22, 2017

badlands 2017

The very next weekend after our 1880 Train ride, we got in free to something else, Badlands National Park! Terry had found out about the free entrance when he had taken the kids to Main Street Square (where he got the eclipse glasses) while I was working. Nation wide, all the parks were free that Saturday, August 25, 2017, to celebrate the National Parks Service's 101 anniversary.

At just about the same time last year, we had spent our first day in the Badlands for our Staycation and had a fantastic time. This time we remembered not to bring a dog (poor Snap dog is gone this year anyway), but we forgot which exit we had taken off the interstate before. We went way further to Exit 131 at Interior. I liked last year's drive better when we went south at Wall. Since we entered a different way, we found different hikes that we had never been near last year. First we did the Door Trail.

We climbed around on the parking lot side of Badlands outcroppings before we found the actual trail. Ezra had to use his hands to climb up there.

Perhaps this was the "door" in the trail? The path itself was actually behind us but we didn't know it.

We finally came to the boardwalk and followed it down. A nice fellow tourist offered to take our family photo. I had forgot our nice camera, but since it's messed up from the snowball, that's probably okay. No, it still would've taken better pictures than an iPhone I think.

Through another "door"?

The trail followed these yellow stakes out into the middle of nowhere but it was very pretty. We climbed out further onto a higher rock and swapped photos with another couple.

A little closer...

One of daddy's selfies.

And one of mommy's. 

It was beautiful. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was just warm enough not to be cold. Usually it bakes out there so it was a good day to go.

Back at that "door."

I scraped our name in the hard white dirt.

Back at the boardwalk I had the kids climb the nearest rock wall thing. It looked cooler in my mind but I couldn't get high enough to be at their level and get the rocks behind them.

Next we drove to the Visitor Center where they were giving out cake and fresh squeezed lemonade. Yummy. We also filled our camelbacks. From there we drove west just a couple miles to the same Saddle Pass Trail they had done last year without me (because Snap wasn't allowed to go I stayed behind).

Samuel had talked about this trail all year so he was obviously excited to do it again, as was I since I hadn't last year. This photo was from once we got to the top. As the above sign says it's a quarter mile practically straight up and then you emerge onto the plain beyond. There are Terry and the kids making their way to that high rock point.

We had to wait for a turn to get to up to that high point.

This was a pretty narrow place and I kept my hands on Ezra the whole time. 

A little closer...

It was a beautiful view up there.

Looking to the right/west.

Looking left/east where we had climbed up.

Another selfie. 

Heading back down from that high point and you can see the plain I mentioned with some hiking trails criss crossing it - we went out to that X where they meet. This part of the Badlands, and especially this hike, is just like a wall. The rocks sort of stop beyond it.

Before he followed us down, Terry took one more picture looking straight out. That is the parking lot where we started from. You can see the trail on the left maybe...

Back to where we first ascended.

The grass came right up to the rocks. It was pretty.

About to head back down the trail.

Here we are back down again. 

We had a lovely time in the Badlands that day. We drove up the Badlands Loop Road and then took Sage Creek Rim Road down again to Highway 44. It was a lot less scenic than I was hoping for, all there was was terrible wash board gravel and miles and miles of devastating prairie dog towns. The park has let the prairie dogs completely destroy the land. It's ridiculous and sad and infuriating that they've just let them spread, eating up the land. That reminds me, I was going to send them a comment telling them so. Anyway, once back in town we ate at On The Border, just like last year. It's become a tradition!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017 fair

Two days after the eclipse, on Wednesday August 23, we all gathered together yet again for our annual trip to the Central States Fair (I had fun looking over the three previous posts from 2013, 2014, 2016).
Heading to the carnival rides after visiting my mom in the Fine Arts building where she makes and judges baskets. 

All the kids but Noah started in the spinning bears...
Samuel, Sarah, Evie, Grace, and Ezra

Meanwhile Noah and I did the giant swing. I don't know if it was because I had just had lunch or if I'm simply getting old, but I was pretty freaked out. I was sure I was gonna die and kept imagining us flying into the trees or going splat on the asphalt.

Terry doesn't like spinning rides because they make him throw up, so he often went with the little kids so therefore I accompanied Noah. Ezra loved this little roller coaster, probably because it was smaller (and much less awesome) than Grampa's roller coaster

Samuel and Ezra on the tiny jeep ride. 

Sarah pulling some sort of adorable face. What a poser!!

Grace and Evie. 

Terry recorded the kids going down the big slide and I took pictures. We both laughed and laughed at the glimpse of Ezra's terrified face as he went down.

Bahahaha! He went again right away and did not grimace but smiled the entire time. Perhaps it just went faster than he thought it would.

I used to love the spinning ride called The Gravitron that pinned you down onto your mat when I was little, but now, again, it makes me feel like I'm going to die. The centrifugle force pushes down so hard on my chest that it seems like I can't breathe! So Noah went on that ride plus this other spinning gravity bound pink ride here.

Terry and I both did the Super Shot ride, which drops you from probably about a hundred feet up. First he went with Evie, who afterward yet she'd never do it again and then I took Noah, who very begrudgingly complied. He does not like this ride. I like the thrill but just can't even hold back the scream. You can hear it in Terry's video of me, which was better than mine of him.

We all quite enjoyed the Ferris wheel. There was no crying or clutching of necks from Samuel or Ezra, like last year. My boys are growing up! As if I needed more reminding of that fact. Ezra is huge and just hates it when I kiss and hug him. But I just can't help it! I need his snuggles!

Shortly after Evie spun herself into a puddle on the ground here, we left. She did not feel well after she did this.

We were total wimps this year and wanted to leave after only a couple hours. Usually we stay three or four hours! Ezra didn't even want to walk on the way back to the barns so daddy carried him, just like he did up Scout's Lookout in Zion. Perhaps the boy isn't so big after all?

We were all ready to leave until we went into the farm animal barn. Look at that llama and alpaca!! Wait, are they two different ones or not? 

Even a zebra!!! 

So cool. 

The kangaroo was what blew my mind. 

I don't think I'd ever seen a stinking kangaroo!!! 

Grampa bought Grace some food for the animals. 

Nice turtle...uh, tortoise.  

I'm gonna go with alpaca here. You can correct me if I'm wrong because I don't know how to tell the difference.

The baby camel was also awesome. It was unbelievably soft!